Thursday, January 30, 2014

Author Spotlight: Flaunting My Diversity: Wynde by Tricia Barr

 

 

 

Wynde-Final-Cover 

 

Happy Thursday Everyone!! I’m so happy to have this post by Author Tricia Barr today. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my desire for Publishers to showcase the diverse characters in their stories. Tricia wanted to share with me her journey with the characters in Wynde. Enjoy!! 

 

Flaunting My Diversity: Wynde

When Kai posted her piece Publishers, Flaunt Your Diversity, it hit on a topic that is near and dear

to my heart as a storyteller. I have talked about diversity in storytelling over at my blog FANgirl for

several years now. While my main focus for FANgirl is to promote equality for women in fiction and as

storytellers, diversity means balance in portrayal of race, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation too.

People are unique and different. If stories are supposed to reflect our reality, and more importantly if

science fiction projects potential futures, then diversity is something that cannot be ignored.

 

At the turn of the new year I published my novel Wynde. As I wrote, I took time with each character

to make sure I wasn’t just drawing from my baseline comfort zone. I was raised in a heteronormative

white Catholic family. My father worked, my mom stayed at home with my sister and I. As a writer,

I am very aware that I grew up in a family environment that is considered normal in storytelling.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t known people or families who were different than mine, though. A good

friend growing up was half-Japanese, half-Filipino; her mother was a doctor, her father stayed at

home to raise the kids. I have been lucky enough to travel the world and experience many cultures,

meet people of all types, and embrace their individuality. I’ve also seen horribly oppressive mindsets.

As a woman I have experienced harassment and biases against my gender. For me, the two most

important things a writer can keep in mind are a self-awareness of her own biases and a recognition of

how other people’s biases are formed and affect their world view. From there, storytelling can open up

infinite possibilities when creating characters and the stories that involve them.

 

In my epic space opera Wynde, the fictional world of Prime has parallels to Earth in a similar way

that Panem in The Hunger Games can be easily related to the United States. With that said, Prime

and Earth are not the same place; for where I wanted to take the story, I needed to create a fictional

setting. That meant I couldn’t portray racial diversity by referring to a character as Asian, Indian,

or African or by mentioning a country of origin; I had to consider other ways to identify characters

as diverse. One method is to mention skin tones. In Wynde many different people of color work

side by side as equals. I wanted to show this because that’s what I would like our future to aspire

to. Still, diversity issues are real and relatable, and I wanted to address that in my story. I created

four unique cultures on Prime based on affinities for different gods. For example, people living near

volcanoes revere Aladare, the god associated with fire, farming societies worship Tarah, the goddess

of the land, and so on. Like national and racial diversity in the real world, Prime’s cultural differences

breed specific biases. Through the course of the story, the Primeans must overcome these differences

to stop an alien invasion. The world government on Prime is united, led by a Prime Minister. In

his cabinet, one minister is tasked with diplomacy between cultures. My heroine’s mother, Utara

Fireheart, holds that position. Her last name hints at Utara’s cultural affinity – fire. I never discuss her

race in the first book of the Fireheart Series, though, for storytelling reasons that will be revealed in

later books. Through Utara’s point of view we see many people of color working in the upper echelons

of government.

For my childhood friend, her Japanese and Filipino heritage combined with her life as an American

immigrant to certainly affect her life experiences, sometimes making them broader, other times

hindering her. This was a dynamic I very much wanted to portray in Wynde. In fact, it helped form

an image of my heroine’s father, Daemyn Wynde. His last name indicates he comes from a different

culture than his wife Utara; he is a Faytan, who worships the goddess of air. He is also, in my mind’s

eye, a character who would be played by an actor of Asian descent. So not only are the main family’s

children blended culturally, they are blended racially. The cultural differences reveal themselves

more so in the prose, but I have always envisioned my fictional universe as a transmedia story. In

the coming months, I will be working with an artist to showcase the characters’ diversity in a visual

medium. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. I am excited for readers to see the diverse

cast as well as read about them.

Diversity isn’t just something on the outside; it can come from within too. While I was writing about

what is considered a traditional family historically, I didn’t let that limit how other characters were

portrayed. Vespa is Wynde’s lead protagonist. Her best friend Gemini serves as my secondary female

protagonist. In a heroine’s journey, the central character needs to grow. In my experience, good

friends help that process. From that mindset, Gemini became the heroic rock of the story. She is

unwavering and kind and heroic in ways most can’t possibly be. Through this foundational character,

I present an alternative look at family; she is the daughter of two doting fathers. Additionally, I had

an opportunity with two heroines to show not only that searching for happiness within a romantic

relationship is possible, but also that the alternative, going it alone, is also a healthy and respectable

choice for a young woman to make. Which character makes what choice, I will leave for you to

discover.

One of my top goals for Wynde was to make it accessible to anyone, to create a world where many

different types of people could find themselves. If you’re looking for a diverse tale, check the book out

and let me know what you think.

A bold flying maneuver won Vespa’s team the Airspar Championships during her first

year at Kedu Academy. Two years later some, like her father, still say her choice was

rash and reckless.

While Vespa is vacationing on the Kavil moon to celebrate her graduation, alien terrorists

attack. Her impulsive decision to fight back helps thwart the initial Orkan assault, but

also strains the previously deep bond with her father. Vespa must bear the consequences

of her actions while the government of her home planet, Prime, struggles to comprehend

the implications of the strike. Relations with their longtime trade partners are further

challenged by the arrival of a military task force from the Protectorate—human colonists

who had left Prime centuries ago and who bring a far different perspective on the Orkan’s

intentions.

Vespa enlists into an elite military unit training spaceblade pilots to defend her planet.

But she can’t do it alone—success will take teamwork. With the lives of her family and

friends at stake, she must sort allies from enemies and repair her relationship with her

father before it is too late. When outright war erupts on the Kavil moon, another fateful

choice may be inevitable.

Wynde combines contemporary themes, military science fiction, fantasy, and romance

into a sweeping space epic that launches the adventures of the next great heroine.

 

Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre

storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star

Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s

science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine. For excerpts and tales

of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.

Follow Tricia at @FANgirlcantina on Twitter or like FANgirl Zone on Facebook.

 

Purchase Wynde HERE

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