I always wondered why most sci-fi and fantasy books were so…white. Reality is not white. It’s a beautiful mix of color, ethnicity, culture, and diversity. As a white writer, I obviously identify most closely with characters that look like me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t include a colorful cast in my novels.
When I began writing my urban fantasy romance, INHALE, the heroine’s best friend Adriene appeared in my mind as a Black whale biologist. I never pictured her as anything different. I had been following a real-life whale researcher named, who studied the impact of ship strikes on critically endangered North Atlantic right whales in New England. Her work is so important to the survival of an entire species, and the fact that she’s an African-American woman working in a white-dominated field made me respect her even more. In a roundabout way, Dr. Campbell-Malone inspired my vision of the character of Adriene in the JUST BREATHE trilogy.
Other multi-ethnic characters round out my JUST BREATHE trilogy cast. There’s Yileen, the Aboriginal Australian mentor to our hero, Gavin. The leader of the Sentinel Council, Yileen took Gavin under his wing years ago. Age is catching up with him, and he knows his time on Planet Earth is running short. More than just a mentor, he’s like a father to Gavin. There may be cultural differences between them, but they’re irrelevant. Gavin and Yileen share a mutual respect that transcends the typical working relationship. They have history. And most importantly, Yileen believes in Gavin when nobody else does.
Two other Sentinel Council members include an Aboriginal named Camira, and Kai, who has a Hawaiian background. I introduce a couple of Maori characters in book 2, EXHALE. And the Tongans…can’t forget those guys! They’re three badass Wæter Elemental brothers who command respect. The mere mention of these guys sends Fyre Elementals into a tailspin.
I included all of these races not because I was trying to be politically correct, but because it seemed natural to. The trilogy takes place in Australia where many people of Pacific descent live. It only made sense to present an accurate depiction of the existing society in the Land Down Under. I probably didn’t do the multicultural characters justice, but I did research to find out more about their customs, the way they talk, and their beliefs. I made an effort to portray them as accurately as possible, and I hope the respect I feel for the various groups I featured shows through in my writing.
INHALE, the first book in the JUST BREATHE trilogy is available in paperback and Kindle formats. ALL profits from sales of the trilogy will be donated to programs that educate people about whales and the challenges they face. In particular, I have my sights set on creating a scholarship program for minority girls to attend programs like Whale Camp. I’ll let you know how it goes!
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