A lot of people can tell you about diversity and why it’s important. There’s easy ways to explain it. Everyone likes to see a reflection of people that look like they do, love like they do, or share similar experiences and challenges. And when you show only a narrow cross section of people, the consequence is erasure of whole segments of that population. But it goes beyond even that.
Stories are important. They carry our vision for how we see the world, not only as it is, but how it could be. We dream of what could be accomplished, what could go wrong, and who would fight the good fight. We want that good guys to drive back the monsters, the aliens, the demons that are trying to claim us. We want to imagine a world where good can win—and that even if the heroes and heroines do lose, they go down valiantly.
Over the years we have seen movies and television shows slowly begin to change their ideas about writing and casting roles. In the literary world, one of the last corners of genre fiction to reflect diversity has been the paranormal, urban fantasy, and dystopian categories.
In the 1990’s, there was a slew of female kick ass heroines. Buffy, anyone? I loved La Femme Nikita and its television re-imaginings, Nikita and Alias. It’s worth mentioning that a reboot of the television show Nikita came out in the 2000’s starring Asian American actress Maggie Q.
Other than Maggie, most of these action femmes were white. Any women of color who appeared on television in these shows didn’t have a very long shelf life. If they lasted maybe two episodes, you considered yourself and the actress both lucky to have had a chance to even see a woman of color in the role.
Inspired by these stories, I set out to create my own heroine, and a world of characters for her to live with. My story is centered on a young black teenaged girl named Marradith Ryder. She has the power to hunt and kill monsters because of her complicated bloodline. Drawn into the Sojourners for her own protection, she soon finds out that working for the good guys comes with strings. There is action and romance, and bad things to be killed. But at its heart, Hunting in Closed Spaces is about family, those we’re born from and those we make our own through shared experiences and loyalty. The Sojourners are made up of people of all kinds, but they work together to accomplish their goals.
My story is peopled with vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters. I also endeavored to make these characters look like us: Black, White, Latino, and Asian. I wanted to create a story with people who looked like the ones I grew up with in Los Angeles.
Sigils and Spells is a collection of stories which features diverse characters. Our goal of course is to entertain you. And while we do it, we hope to show you stories which contain all kinds of people. We want you to dream big, and to see some part of your experience reflected in the pages of these stories.
It’s both an honor and a pleasure to have my book included with my colleagues in this collection. I hope you’ll pick up a copy, and that we can give you new worlds to explore for a while.