Now that my novel Wind Follower is published and I've created a Native-Americanish Asianish hero to fall in love with my dark-skinned character, I'm working on my new WIP, presently called Inheritance where another new guy falls in love with yet another dark-skinned character. Yeah, I've got issues.
Truth to tell: I've got this hankering for flesh. White flesh. It's kind of vampiric, I know. It shows up in my love for a good -- I repeat "good" -- cowboy flick. If the main character isn't a cowboy, then it's got to be some homespun cornfed type. For my own sanity and self-respect, I'd like to think that this particular issue isn't peculiar to me. I suspect that black girls, Asian girls, Native American girls all have this love for cowboys, the mythic great American ideal. After all, they hook into our testosterone. They ride a horse well. (uh...really well.) And although we've all been subjected to all those old movies where the blonde squinty-eyed Stenson-hatted guy always chose the blonde haired preacher's daughter over the raven-haired but fallen saloon gal...we pretty well knew that we weren't in his rodeo, his range, or mountain...brokeback or otherwise. It's kinda like what Cher (of Sonny and Cher fame) once said in an interview...how she liked Snow White because Snow White was the only black-haired Disney animated character. So yeah, there probably are all these dark-haired women wanting the cowboy to pick the dark-haired girl.
Well, It's a rejection issue. A societal rejection issue. Not that we always wanted the guy, but as minority gals we were more than aware that the homespun guy in all those American flicks just didn't want us. Heck, he wouldn't see any beauty in us. And if he did, he certainly wouldn't marry any of us. It's a rejection issue that any ethnic woman writer has to adapt to. And I mean "adaptation" literally.
My movie life has been spent saying two things.
The first: "Sure the main character's cute but, he'd be prejudiced in real life."
The second: "Okay, that was a nice movie...but what if the main character was black?" Yes, let me see... What would the film "Single White Female" be like with emphasis on the "white"? I could go on. But you get the picture.
So, there I was working on my new novel when who should present himself? A homespun type. A guy named Danny who is neither slender nor stocky but with a body --well you know-- made for sin. Could I do it? Could I create the love story that would challenge all those Janet Oke Lifetime movie love stories I'd fed on?
Nah. Within three months of thinking about this character, he had turned ethnic on me. Part Chinese and part Native American. But he was still homespun. From an upstate New York farm community no less. He was also politically incorrect. Very. Almost...well, almost...racist.
Of course I wasn't really surprised at this. I'm always trying to create an all-American cowboy and no matter what the Black Gang -- as Bujold calls the muse-- rears its serious little head and twist things about. Lord knows why. Maybe I still don't think a cowboy would want me...uh, my character? Maybe I've outgrown that part of me that wanted them...the way they were. Either way, the Black Gang is reluctant to do it. Again, I feel the need to sound saner that I probably am so I'll just restate that I've noticed this kind of thing in stories by other women writers of color. The girl is mother of the woman, as they say. And adaptation seems to be the best choice for a reluctant adult woman writer who used to daydream about cowboys who would have nothing to do with her. Making the guy ethnic, I can have my beefcake and eat it too.
Engrossing, perceptive, earthy, and provocative, Carole McDonnell's debut novel, Wind Follower is a soulful, mythic epic of race, class, and cultural divisions that speaks volumes to the important questions of our day. Her lead characters, Satha and Loic, are vividly depicted, fully realized in this magical world. She can write scenes that plug completely into all of the key emotions of the reader, alternately spellbinding and disturbingly masterful.Robert Fleming, author of Havoc After Dark and Fever In The Blood
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