Why do I ask authors about discrimination?
A few comments over on Tanya Huff’s Livejournal brought something to my mind. Some of her fans seemed concerned with the types of questions I asked her in our recent interview, mainly those dealing with whether Ms. Huff has experienced discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, both of herself and her characters. These are questions I have posed to every author I’ve interviewed so far, either based around race, gender, or orientation.
Why do I ask such prying questions? Why don’t I stick to the fan favorite questions about writing, storytelling, and their beloved characters? For one thing, many of these authors have been interviewed at least a few times before, so the answers to those tried and true questions are already out there. I do try to cover some of those bases in my interviews, because I find those topics interesting myself. However, as fascinating as I find the writing process of any author and as much as I enjoy talking about it with these great writers, what my blog is focused on is feminism, anti-racism, and LGBT issues. So yes, I do ask questions related to those topics, because that’s what I, and my readers, are interested in.
I’ve written before that there are still large prejudices contained within the Speculative Fiction genre. You can read my thoughts on this in my “Speculative Fiction is Still for Children” article. It was basically my call to action for lovers of great and diverse fiction. I can’t not respond to my own rallying call. If I ask uncomfortable questions, it’s because there are sometimes uncomfortable truths that people don’t like to talk about. So far, most of my questions on discrimination have been answered in the negative. Ms. Huff, for instance, did not feel that her gender and sexuality, and those of her characters, made it difficult for her to get published. She has enjoyed a very long and successful career as a writer.
And I could not be happier. I’m ecstatic that some of my favorite authors found it (relatively speaking) painless getting published. It has not always been so. There are real reasons why some of spec fic’s first female authors worked under male-sounding pseudonyms. There are still very few well known authors of color within the genre, and still few characters of color in published stories. It’s a treasure to find LGBT characters within a science fiction or fantasy story, because they are still so rare.
I ask because I want to know, and I ask because I think it’s important for well-known public figures to be seen talking about these topics. Enough people have come to the blog for just the interviews that I know I’m reaching people I haven’t before. If even one or two of them starts thinking about things in a way they never have before, it’s worth it to me, even if I make some people uncomfortable. I give the authors every opportunity to not answer my questions, and it makes me very happy that every one so far has been willing to discuss these difficult subjects.
If my questions make you uncomfortable, or my topics make you squeamish, maybe you should examine your own thoughts on these subjects. I’m not out to prove anything, negatively or positively, but I am out to bring the situation to others’ attention. That’s important to me, and it’s the point of my blog. I’m out to make people think and examine their own feelings. That’s why I ask these questions.