I was happy to be asked by Erin Reel to be a guest on her blog, The Lit Coach. Ms. Reel is a former literary agent with almost ten years in the publishing industry. She “found” me on Twitter and after visiting my blog, invited me to do a guest post.
My post, “The Color of a Voice,” is online today. Here’s an excerpt:
My soon-to-be released book, The Red Kimono (Spring 2013, University of Arkansas Press) is a multicultural historical. The point of view characters are Japanese-American and African-American. I didn’t have much trouble creating Sachiko Kimura, the nine-year old Japanese-American girl, because I am from the same culture. But creating Sachi’s seventeen-year old brother, Nobu, and his African-American friend, Terrence, was much more difficult.
While creating Terrence, I was challenged time and again to develop not only a realistic Black voice, but also the voice of a teenage boy. Each week, I read five pages for my critique group and often came away frustrated by comments such as, “He still doesn’t sound Black,” or “All of your characters sound the same.” These comments triggered my question, “How does one outside of a culture develop realistic introspection and intonation without crossing the line of being offensive to those within the culture?”
I began to wonder if writing from the point of view of a young African-American boy in the 1940’s was too far a stretch. Yet, my self-doubt was tempered by Terrence’s determination to tell his story. Through all of my self-doubt, he continued to talk to me and I continued to write.
I’d love for you to visit The Lit Coach and let us know your thoughts on whether or not an author should attempt to write outside of her culture or gender.