The dim moon barely lit up the night sky; the air was fragranced with the smell of plumeria. Lit torches surrounded us as shadows danced along the tables. The mumble of voices and the stirring of bodies shifting like the waves of the ocean were but a dull sound as the drums sounded off in erratic composition. … The sounds of voices, hands slapping, and pounding feet permeated the air with visions of a distant past; a distant place where people danced to tell a story….
I have always wanted to tell this story. I dreamt of a world filled with wonders very similar to ours an alien race that was just as diverse and culturally rich as the peoples that populate our earth. Many nights were spent on developing my alien race. My biggest allies were research and experience. When I first started developing my aliens I thought about the different areas in which they would live on the planet.
I knew from the start that I wanted to include a group of aliens that lived on islands and my inspiration was Polynesian culture. Most of my research was actually self-lived I lived in Hawaii for three years and worked inside a small shop that sold Polynesian handicrafts and souvenirs. It was daily routine for me to educate customers on the history of the handicrafts that we sold. I took hours each night reading about Samoa, Fiji, and Hawaii (to a name a few).
Along with doing research on Polynesian culture I also talked with people who were from different Polynesian islands. Getting to know these people are some of my most cherished experiences. I not only learned a lot from them, but they were more than willing to talk to me about their traditions. I do want to stop right here real quick though. I want everyone to realize that while I did question and even wore the traditional dress of Samoa I did this all with respect (and an okay from a best friend; I had to make sure it was cool that I was rockin the lava lava on a daily basis). I was curious yes and wanted to know more, but not once did I do this without respect for all the individuals involved.
I think it is important as we delve into our writing of a multicultural story that we approach the subject with a thirst for knowledge and experience, but also genuine respect for the cultures’ differences. My story may involve aliens yes, with a hint of being almost like their human counterparts of course. They are similar to us, yet so different and just as beautiful.
When I research I find the positive aspects that are there within our worlds many cultures and many races. I never see the skin color and I also don’t make assumptions about how a whole set of peoples are. We as people categorize and it is not always positive (we then get those ugly stereotypes that need to be tossed on the wayside). I have come to the conclusion if we put fear aside and just go for it we can achieve so much with our writing.
Now not everyone is going to be able to go to Hawaii or Fiji. I realize this and I wanted to say while you may not be able to do what I was able to do while I lived in Hawaii. You can still take in the information for your research just like I did. If your character is from Japan or Africa, or New Zealand; trust me when I say you can find a way to get yourself experiencing.
Try some food from there if there is a restaurant in your area. Watch a movie, do a craft and see if you can’t talk to someone who is from that area you are inspired by. You could even be as crazy as I am and buy an outfit that is part of the regions traditional dress and wear it around the house (or in public if you dare). Most of all enjoy and trust in your research and your writing.
I am a strong believer that I can successfully portray my alien race without causing harm to my chosen inspirations. What are your thoughts readers?
Current Project: “The Black Sands” (Sci Fi/ Fantasy Novel)
Bio: (oh always the hardest thing!)
I am an army wife, freelance artist and writer. I am originally from Arizona. My husband and I have known each other since the sixth grade. I guess you could say I am a novice writer and am working towards completing my first novel. Most of my time is spent creating art, writing or making jewelry (add some crocheting in there too). I enjoy cooking and gardening. I also have a great furry friend named Lilioukalani ( Lils for short- she is my “Hawaii” cat) who is my biggest fan-seriously she follows me everywhere!