05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Night Owl Reviews’ – The Melting Pot by C. Morgan Kennedy

Highlighting Diverse Books 
Let me begin by thanking the ladies at Romancing the Genres for asking me to guest post about my book review column. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart: DIVERSITY.

Two years ago, I had lunch with Tammie King – the tour de force behind Night Owl Reviews. At some point during lunch, she asked me if I would like to take over the diversity column for her free monthly e-magazine. The original column was focused on diverse romance and was almost exclusively African-American-centric romance – which was fabulous. My only ‘problem’ was that, even though I am a romance author working towards publication, my taste in books extended beyond romance.

Tammie and I had some conversations about how I wanted to expand the scope of the column, change the name, and focus on a broader definition of diversity….and thus, The Melting Pot: Stories with Diversity and Multiculturalism was born.

My column has showcased books that feature Cuban, Mexican, African-American, LGBTQ, plus size, Asian, interracial, and other-abled characters. Note that I am focusing on characters and diverse stories… the authors aren’t necessarily members of minority populations. We live in a diverse world and I would like to see more stories that reflect that diversity. I want to see authors move beyond the stereotypes and tell stories that include a rich tapestry of characters with depth and emotion. Yes, I read for an escape, but I also enjoy learning more about new perspectives and hidden histories.

No matter the genre (I read just about everything), I’m always on the hunt for well written stories with amazing casts of characters. Every December, I post a selection of diverse children’s books, too. If you have any recommendations of great authors or books, please leave a comment or reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter, or my website / email. I’d love to hear from you.

About C. Morgan Kennedy:
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.

Steampunker, futurist, blerd, artist, contemporary author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.

Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website:


Judith Ashley said...

C. Morgan, We've a couple of Genre-istas who write great multi-cultural books B.A. Binns, Marcia King-Gamble, Michelle Monkou and one of our alumni Kris Tualla does also. Diversity is a main focus of the Blog Queens (Sarah and Judith) so thank you for shining another bright light on this important topic. I'm looking forward to the day when posts like this aren't necessary because diversity in all its many forms will be an integral part of our daily lives.

Maggie Lynch said...

What a great name for a column--The Melting Pot--and indicative of the world we live in. I have to admit this is a difficult question I've asked myself several times. Why don't I/can't I write books that reflect that diversity of characters?

About four years ago, a long-time author friend of mine in Canada, who is Chinese, asked me why I don't include other cultures as my heroes or heroines--particularly in my romances. I told her I just don't think of it, and because I write from an emotional side I write what I know. I'm white of Irish/Scottish descent and so is my husband. I do have two siblings who married into different cultures--one Mexican and the other Indian. However, because they don't live near me, I'm not a part of their bicultural life. I know bits an pieces that are different from my experienes but not enough to create a full realized character. My author friend tends to write Chinese heroines, but often includes a hero who is not Chinese. This reflects her own romantic relationship experience. Her husband is black, French Canadian. Or perhaps it's just a Canadian thing, where cultural diversity is more the norm.

I've tried to work through her question or suggestion that I diversify and I think it's a combination of not living in a very integrated environment and I think I'm afraid of offending people by getting the culture wrong or by not including enough of the cultural aspects of daily life. And if I ignore culture--writing people as people--then I'm afraid of tokenism. I think this thinking comes from entering adulthood in the 60's and 70's and all the mixed, and often angry, messages I heard about white folks not being able to write African-American, Latino, or Native American characters because they couldn't know that life.

In my SF I don't have a problem with this. I think somehow it's easier to believe there will be a time in the future when that true melting pot of cultures exists. In my SF stories I don't feel the need to represent a culture--instead representing people as people.

It seems to me that this separateness is what has brought about specific lines like Kiman. I read multicultural books by other authors reflecting their own culture, but I don't find many books where multi-culturalism is present in book. Do you have any good examples of that?

I'd love to hear your take on this, Morgan. Do you find it easy to write novels with cultural diversity beyond your own experience? If so, how did you get over the hump of getting it right/wrong or tokenism?

Sarah Raplee said...

I highly recommend B.A. Binns' online class that takes you through the process of creating diverse characters step-by-step. I'll as k her when she's offering this class again.

C. Morgan Kennedy said...

Judith - thank you for the author suggestions! I will be sure to add them to my 'must explore' list!

Maggie - I, too, am primarily a SF / paranormal fan. Here are some author suggestions for you: 1) Daniel Jose "DJ" Older - his 'Bone Street Rumba' series is populated by Cuban, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, African-American, Caucasian, and several other ethnic groups / communities. As Americans, we often just say 'Latin' or 'Latin-American' - his novels depict how all the individual cultures interact within their communities. Well written and extremely fascinating.... 2) Max Gladstone's 'Three Parts Dead' features one of my all time favorite characters - Tara Abernathy. Deemed 'Cyberpunk Fantasy' his six book Craft Series takes place in a world where gods are machines that power cities, monks are their mechanics / engineers that keep them running via maintenance and prayers, and legal contracts are magic draw up by lawyers who practice 'craft.' There's a rich mix of cultures and histories. 3) Beverly Jenkins - LOVE, LOVE, LOVED her book 'Forbidden' - seriously, check out Ms. Jenkins. Her historical romances are ON POINT.

As for me and my writing, I recognize that I am in a unique situation. As a mechanical engineer and MBA I've spent my entire professional career as the only or one of a few black women in my industry circles. My minor in school was Asian Studies with a focus on China and I've traveled extensively internationally for both work and play. When I do travel, I've been blessed to meet really cool people who treat me more like a peer and local than a tourist. So I often have adventures that most 'tourists' wouldn't get to experience. (There is nothing like visiting Mexico City with someone who grew up there!) I am fortunate that I have friends from a variety of cultures and as an engineer I'm almost exclusively surrounded by Caucasian and European men. Because my world is diverse, my stories are diverse... but my default setting is to have Dim Sum for brunch and paella for dinner with a lovely Chilean red wine. *snort* Plus, my day job's international duties require me to be perhaps more culturally sensitive than most people. I'm weird...I know...

We should meet for coffee to discuss this topic further!