You probably didn’t stop by today for political commentary and, in general, I prefer to make my arguments in fiction (and fantasy at that . . .), but this is also a historic moment. A turning point that will go down in history.
Or, at least, that’s what we need it to be. What we need to make of it.
There’s a lot of wrong in the world. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, to lose hope, to say it has always been broken and will always be broken. To try to find stability and comfort and safety each in our little corner and ignore the fires raging outside.
But we’re all fantasy readers here. We’ve spent years reading our fairytales and dystopias and urban or gothic or paranormal or supernatural or science fantasies.
And, in all our beloved stories of resistance and revolution, there’s that pivotal moment.
It’s not the moment the bomb goes off or the assassin shoots or the capitol burns. It’s not a grand set piece of clashing armies or duelling generals, of kings losing their heads or thrones tumbling, of corrupt regimes imploding or the great nameless evil erased once and for all.
It’s that quiet moment between one heartbeat and the next that a decision is made, once and for all: no more.
That’s the birth of power. Magic. The force to turn the tidal wave and put an end to the darkness. That’s where the protagonist of her or his story steps up and commits to the challenge that will either destroy them or change the world.
So, here’s the question before each one of us: what’s your pivotal moment?
What’s going to be (or has been) your “hero origin story,” the turning point where you chose to take action and work to set things right?
You’re probably not going to rally an army (uh, I hope . . .) or unlock ancient powers or wield lost artifacts of magic, and you probably won’t even be at the center of the action when it comes right down to it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a role to play in changing the world.
On that topic, there are far more insightful, educated, and valuable voices than mine you should be listening to right now when it comes to what to do and how to help. Here are a few I’ve come across:
A Twitter thread on good ways to help right now and going forward
The Toronto Star on Anti-Racism training
Stratagem on what anti-Black habits
. . . and just in case you’re getting fired up about being Katniss in the Hunger Games, a timely reminder that, while we need to change the world, we need to do so without causing more harm to the most vulnerable: a thread on revolutions
I want to live in a world where we get all the amazing stories and hear all the beautiful, challenging, original voices without a filter of race, sex, or privilege. That world is more interesting, more fun, and more equitable. It’s also better for us.
But until that world is ours, and for the record because apparently it still needs to be said: Black Lives Matter, and so do Black Stories.
I’m highlighting Dhonielle Clayton’s stunning YA Dystopian Fantasy The Belles in particular today, because yes, we need stories with both real life and fantasy, lived experience and imagined, interrogation and extrapolation and, at times, just straight up escapism in speculative fiction. And sometimes an author wants or needs to write about race in a contemporary or historical setting, but that should never be demanded or expected of them. (a.k.a. give us more Black fantasy!)
Anyway, this book (series) in particular stood out to me because Dhonielle told a gripping story of stunning beauty and devastating dystopian horror and I’ve very rarely seen glitter and misery combined with such excellence.
I’ll be incorporating regular titles by Black authors (trad & indie) into future editions of this newsletter, as well as highlighting indigenous and POC stories.
And if you’re a writer of YA or teen-friendly speculative fiction and Black, indigenous, or otherwise POC, please reach out with a link to one of your books so I can share it with everyone. 💖