Today, I want to welcome Tiffany Rose to Read Diverse Books. Her debut novel, Hello World, will officially release February 21st, 2017. That’s tomorrow!
If you haven’t heard about Hello World, this post will introduce you not only to the book, but also to the author and her thoughts on in-text representation of marginalized identities.
by Tiffany Rose Follow @FromPawnToQueen
I don’t know how many times I’ve told someone about a character and they were equal parts surprised and delighted about the label. Often there is a follow up question. “So, wait, are they confirmed canon, with words, or just, you know, commonly accepted as such.”
Fandoms and queer theory both breed very thoughtful interpretations of diversity that is missing from media on a whole. Most head canons are not fans running amok, they are people who see themselves in how things are written.
Word of God confirmations stand in direct conflict with the theory of Death of the Author, and both show the complicated dynamic of things that are not explicitly stated. But there’s a grey area of that I don’t think gets enough thought. I call it Post-It Representation.
I define it as the following: Representation that is loosely tacked onto a character and therefore doesn’t have enough sticking power without members of the fandom telling others about the confirmed label.
With the various attempts, pushes for diversity, and campaigns over recent years I’ve seen a lot of characters fall into this category.
JK Rowling says Dumbledore is gay in a random interview? Post-It Representation
Cassandra Clare tweets that Raphael Santiago is aro ace? Post-It Representation
Jughead is aro ace in the comics, but not in Riverdale?
(Please be this type of harmless vandal when you see problematic media. #AroAceJugheadOrBust)
I could go on listing more examples as a consumer of media, but also being an author gives me another point of view on the matter. My debut novel Hello World, has a bi ace protagonist, but the story isn’t about asexuality at all. For a good while I debated how I wanted to go about saying that. Or if I wanted to at all. Authors are told to show and not tell. So how could I even go about showing, when there’s people who don’t even understand there is a word for that identity in the first place?
That’s when I decided I’d be selling myself short if I went around re-sticking the label on my character after the fact. There are plenty of words in a novel, surely one of them could be asexual. Not only for myself, but for anyone who didn’t even know that was a word a person could have.
But the question of how authors should go about labeling is beyond just me and my stories. If a character is labeled in a tweet and no one sees was representation given? Does it do a community good if they must search to prove such things? Do the makers of content have a responsibility to the very real people who could get hurt in fights over what little ends up being ambiguously given.
The answers likely range from character to character and fandom to fandom, but it definitely does not raise awareness much, if at all, if it’s not in text or on screen. Writers are literally capable of creating universes, and I believe that comes with a responsibility. Post-It style representation turns identity into an Easter egg only for the devout fan. We mustn’t treat diversity as a reward, when it’s reality. I believe there is moral imperative for authors to not only include, but to label with a lasting power.
About Hello World
Scott’s skills as a surveillance expert come in pretty handy when he’s breaking down firewalls. But hacktivism isn’t enough; he’s going after the holy grail—UltSyn’s Human Information Drives, human assets implanted with cerebral microchips. While plenty of hackers are trying to save the world these days, all Scott wants is to find his sister.
After following the clues to London, he makes a plan to kidnap the technical marvel heading into town. When this Human Information Drive turns out to be someone unexpected his nerve waivers. The HID, who calls herself Sonia, would be priceless on the market, but born out of joint self-preservation the two team up.
With her contacts, they travel across Europe in the search of personal secrets and leave a trail of industrial espionage all for the sake of misdirection. As the unlikely pair digs deeper into restricted databases, Scott discovers that those who enlist with UltSyn get far more than they bargained for. Not only is this secret HID program is much bigger than he had imagined, students are lining up for a future they only think this biotech wonder company can provide. Even worse, these leads are getting him nowhere closer to his own goals.
Plunged into a world of human trafficking, Scott is determined to find his sister no matter the cost, which tests Sonia’s fragile friendship with him. But when the information reveals the people closest to Scott have been working for UltSyn all along, he has to find them—before UltSyn finds him.
About the authors:
Tiffany Rose is still waiting for her Starfleet uniform to arrive, but isn’t so picky about color. Until then she spends her time writing about magical girls, the morally grey, and articles that would warrant the title of cyberpunk beatnik since the themes are unabashedly focused on queer theory in the information age. Any extra time would ideally be spent looking out for plot bunnies and serendipity, but in reality, likely used on refreshing twitter.
Alexandra Tauber spends much of her time cuddling her cat and putting off any adult responsibilities. Love of science fiction, comic books, and video games fed into her creativity since her youth and drove her to take part in many online roleplaying communities, and formed her aspirations to write novels. Her point of focus is inclusive writing that honors the struggles of more than the carbon copy white knight figure.
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