Hello! – June 16th

I haven’t updated my blog recently…mainly due to the heartbreaking events that have been happening over the past few weeks. It didn’t feel right to post novel updates or do character collages. I felt that it was better to amplify the voices that needed to be heard at the time.

These events also made me reflect on my work, and how I can use my platform (although it isn’t very big), to educate people on the importance of diversity in the media.

I have been complaining about the lack thereof, for a couple of years now and before the tragic death of George Floyd I had been writing and planning post regarding diversity in books. I noticed that within my older work, despite having mainly white leads, there have been themes of injustice, not feeling like one fits in, prejudice and racism. Topics that I unintentionally included, and was writing about as a teenager…that I never thought to reflect on until becoming an adult. I think that in the back of my mind, as a visible minority in my community, and being mixed race, these were things that were constantly happening to or around me, that instead of speaking about them openly, I ended up expressing them through my art. A lot of my older stories explore things that I sometimes struggled to understand…emotions that perhaps at the time I didn’t know how to work through.

Do I put myself into my stories? No…I don’t think so. However, I cannot deny the correlation between things happening in the world around me and themes that appear in my books.

Injustice and racism play a huge role in my debut novel…along with discussions of police brutality. I wrote this when I was in high school. I have cops in my family…however, I am a POC. I am fully aware of how people view black people. I have had family members racially profiled. When I started this novel, I was being bullied at school and called all kinds of derogatory names. I brushed it off, but it still hurt…and somehow those emotions manifested in a place of creativity. It actually made me realize how deeply racism affected me growing up.

At seventeen I unintentionally wrote a series where one of my main characters is a visible minority, who is profiled and mistreated because of he’s different. He is forced to change himself to fit into someone else’s standards in order to “protect” himself, and has to act a certain way so people don’t “fear” him.

This series has definitely grown up with me in many ways…but I can’t deny that this character and his experiences are a reflection of how I felt at the time, when I was made to feel…different because of my hair, and my skin. Things that I couldn’t change or control. I understood and related to his frustrations while writing because it was something myself and many other people of colour have and continue to go through.

Realizing this…makes it a bit painful to write. I’ve been working on another novel while my debut is off with my editor, but everything in this series seems so much heavier than I initially thought…I had no intention of writing a story like this…but it seems I’ve been telling stories of injustice and cruelty my entire life. Somehow…pain seeped into my space of creativity and transformed itself through fiction into something that I could handle. In a way…it’s almost a blessing that I’ve been able to use my creativity to express these types of emotions…despite being fully aware of it.

The world is definitely changing…and I think this change will be good. I don’t want my children to have to bury those feelings of frustration and pain so deep that…years later they realize it manifested in their art.

On a less…depressing note…I’ve been working on some really fun voice over projects lately, and I’m really enjoying myself. I’m also finally able to buy makeup, which I haven’t done in…wow…I have work, so I actually want to use some concealer and what not. I’ve liked taking a break from wearing makeup, however, I also miss playing with all the beautiful colours and seeing what types of looks I can create. Honestly, I think Valentines day was the last time I did my makeup. My skin was really clear at the time, so I only used a bit of concealer. Being single on Valentines Day was so fun. I’ve been single every Valentines Day…so far though? I don’t mind honestly. Most of the time I was either in school or working, and I just like the holiday because I have an excuse to wear lots of red (like Christmas).

I’m rambling now, but I really just wanted to end my blog post with something a little less gloomy. I’ve been on and off social media as well because I’m finding it’s been taking a bit of a toll on my mental health, and because my job requires me to be very energetic, I don’t like to feel sad before I get in the booth.

Please remember to take care of yourself, stay safe, wash you hands, and be kind to yourself and others.

Book Talk Episode 2: Relationships and Growing Up.

Relationships do play a big role in my debut novel. I’m a big fan of Io Sakisaka not only for her gorgeous artwork, but how she continues to explore the different aspects of love and relationships in her stories.

Futaba, Ao Haru Ride

In one of her series she perfectly illustrations how our feelings and thoughts about relationships change as we grow. When writing my series I wanted to capture those moments of surprise and revelation, that she does so well in her work. Two of my main characters are introduced years after their relationship came to an end. Now and then one of them will recall how they grew together, and went from friends to lovers to not being able to stand one another. The emotions that come while they are in these moments of recollection are some that I feel really resonate throughout. A lot of the time the question in their mind is, “Why?” or “What if?” but neither of them has the courage to try and answer that question for themselves. Growing up, you go through so many different experiences and emotions and a lot of them you face with your friends and family. So many hours of the day is spent (in normal circumstances of course…and not during a pandemic) in school, and many people attend school with the same group of people most of their academic lives.

Little boys watching baseball

I often think about the wonderful friendship my parents have had since their days in elementary school. I’m a little envious, because I switched schools a few times when we moved but I thankfully have managed to keep in contact with people from my elementary and high school days. Still, I often ask myself the same question my characters ask themselves throughout the series, “Why did this happen?” or “What if I did this differently” when recalling certain situations or feelings from those days. I’m not very old, but I think every year you wonder about more and more…and you realize that you know less and less.

Girls looking up at the sky

Our relationships really do shape us, and even if they are for a season, teach us not only about others but about ourselves. How to we react in certain situations, how to we cooperate and interact with other people? Are we capable of jealously? Are we capable of compassion? These are all things that we encounter as we grow, and things that I admire about Io’s work that I want to present in my own. I find that characters who think and feel so fully…are characters that we are drawn to. You don’t even have to like them. The character could be an awful person, but if they are fleshed out well, that really resonates throughout the work.

Kou and Futaba, Ao Haru Ride

I hope to get to a point where my characters thoughts, reactions and emotions come to me so naturally, that it is like they’re an old friend. I love watching them take shape, and discover things about themselves as I write. It’s a unique experience…and it really does resemble growing up.