Instead of my usual rant or ramble, this blog post is a request. Makes for a nice change of pace, I suppose…
In October last year, I published Spider Circus, the first novel in a YA world-hopping fantasy series. While I’m really pleased with how it turned out, there are a few changes that need to be made – correcting a few typos, improving a few clunky phrases, nothing major or Lucas-esque. I’ve decided to take full advantage of this opportunity and publish a sort of ‘deluxe edition’, with additional short stories and other material that wasn’t in the original publication.
It has occurred to me that this is also a really good time for me to improve the portrayal of my POC characters. As I noted in this blog, the fact that I’m white means that I am inevitably going to make mistakes when I write characters who aren’t. I tried to follow the advice in these articles, and have done my best to see past my white privilege, but I’m certain that I could still do better.
When I finished Spider Circus, I thought about putting out a call for POC beta readers, but I felt awkward about doing this – it’s no-one else’s responsibility to check my work. However, I think I need to get over this awkwardness to avoid the far more awkward situation of possibly having accidentally written something blinkered or racist, which might end up hurting people.
If there are any POC out there who would be happy to beta-read my novel (is it still beta-reading when it’s already been published once?), I would be hugely grateful. I’m particularly looking for black British readers, as my heroine Lizzie is black and British. I can’t offer any payment, as I’m a dirt-poor student, but anyone who beta-reads will get a mention in the acknowledgements of the new edition, and a free copy of the final thing.
(I would also be hugely gratefully to be called out if I’ve said anything problematic in this call for beta readers, if anyone is willing to do so. White privilege is one hell of a set of blinkers).
And, on a different note, I’d love to hear any suggestions anyone has for what characters my Circus-related short stories could focus on. I’ve already got Wild Horses, about Maria and Lizzie, and another story planned that just features Lizzie – who else do you want to see?