The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 139 – Does Race & Gender REALLY Matter in Fantasy?
Dominic asked a question in our Patreon group and we answered with this episode! Does race and gender really matter in fantasy?
We take a look at the history of fantasy up through modern trends, looking at how fantasy has changed and is still changing. This simple question leads to an outcome that surprises Jesper... how important do you think race, gender, and sexuality are in fiction?
And a big thank you to Dominic for the question! We really appreciate having you with us on Patreon. ❤️
Tune in for new episodes EVERY single Monday.
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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
You're listening to The Am Writing Fantasy Podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need in literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than in 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.
Hello, I'm Jesper.
And I'm Autumn
This is episode 139 of the am writing fantasy podcast and a while back at, well, to be honest, this is, yeah, Quite some time ago, we received the question from one of the patrons supporters. Dominic asked if race sex like male and female and sexuality matters and is relevant to think about when writing fantasy fiction. And that is what we aim to answer today. Or at least you have some thoughts on that because we noticed how the same topic actually came up a few times in The Am Writing Fantasy Facebook group. So it's apparently something and above author's are wondering about,
Autumn (1m 16s):
Oh, I'm looking forward to this one. And actually in a couple of books I've read recently, you kind of prepared me for this one. So I think will have some stuff to discuss, but first, so how were things going in Denmark? Good.
Jesper (1m 34s):
Well, it's going fine. I actually started a kayaking course. So the other day. Yeah. Well, I, I S I think I emailed you a bit about it, but we never got to talk about how we went
Autumn (1m 51s):
In curious. So yeah, you're out in the ocean and Denmark. This it is August, so that's okay.
Jesper (2m 1s):
Yeah. It's okay. I mean, of course you, you have all the gear on and so on. And so it was that because it's called, but there was, and we went out on Tuesday. So a couple of days ago at the point of recording this and that there was a lot of waves and a lot of wind. So it was, and so they do like a five to six weeks course where you sort of learned all the techniques in how to save yourself if you fall into the water and all that kind. So you, you, you do a lot of practicing over like five or six weeks, and then once you're done, you are sort of released, not that you can't just go out as you please, even, I think even after that, but you, you can go out with some other people in and, and so on, but at, on Tuesday than I was out for the first time, and we were to post to sort of first just sale a bit, but there was way too many waves.
Jesper (2m 57s):
So it's like the instructor said, no, lets just go back closer to the, to the shore because this is way too much waive here. Ah, so we, we did that and the, all my way back I fell in for the first time, which was not on purpose. Oh
Autumn (3m 14s):
No, it's a good practice though.
Jesper (3m 16s):
Oh. And then we got back and then yeah. And at that point we haven't even practiced how to save ourselves. So anything so, but it was very shallow water 'cause we were trying to keep close to the beach, but because of all the wave's, so if I could just, you know, stand on there on the bottom of Maya. So we, it was not so bad. And then when you were supposed to Trane saving ourselves, so he set, like we needed to tip over on purpose M two times each. Oh. And then, you know, gate get out of the kayak while you were basically upside down. So underneath water, get out of the kayak and get up and turn it around.
Jesper (3m 57s):
And then he showed some techniques on how to climb on, on board again, which is pretty difficult. I have to say, because you were out in the water, in the kayak, his shaking and not very sturdy either. And you had to climb on border with that if that's not easy, but M but he showed some techniques to do that. A and so I think the first time I try it, I actually got up on the kayak and the knot plumped into the water on the other side of, if I was just back in the water.
Autumn (4m 28s):
Oh, that's great. I wish I had a recording of that. Oh, well you make me miss my to practice things. Yeah, yeah.
Jesper (4m 41s):
Yes. And then I did my two practice, a, you know, tipping over on purpose. And then he said like the Indian, he said, okay, I think that's it w we will stop for today. Let's say go back. And then we, we were sailing back and then I, I accidentally tipped over again. So I ended up in the water for the fifth time then. Well,
Autumn (4m 60s):
You got you're dunking in that. That's great. Oh, oh, you definitely making me. When I, before I met my husband, like I had done whitewater kayaking and there was never a particularly good at the roles, but, you know, I was used to going down rapids. I was doing all that kind of stuff. And we got to me, it was in, it was a lot of lakes. What we both got CK at kayaks and they had a 17 foot sea kayak, but it had a rudder on the back. So yeah. Some of those techniques on how to get into it and I'm like, oh, you don't want to watch out for the rudder. But yeah, I would, we left, I sold mine. He still has his cause it's a fiberglass one in, and it's gorgeous.
Autumn (5m 40s):
It's so much later than mine, but I miss the times we've had on the water, you know, me, I've had sailboats like KX, we'd still have canoes. So I like the water. That sounds like a lot of that. Oh
Jesper (5m 54s):
No, I like it at two one. And, and you, you can, you can sell some really, you know, some of you are very nice trips, right? You that you can do on the sale down on some very nice like streams where you can go and watch some nature in while we were sailing as if it's very nice. I think that like it, but I have to say Tuesday evening when I came back and I had taking my shower and I was back in the couch, I had a bit of soul muscles study. But if it's a good way to get some exercise in as well,
Autumn (6m 25s):
There it is. You making me miss it. And you will do this. One of these times, there is actually a trail call the Maine coastal kayak trail in main. And I forget, I guess too, like 200 different Highlands. You go to an island every night and you camp and you just keep going down the trail. So you and your wife and your kids, you're going to have to come over and we're going to have to do it because its been my goal to do that. Ever since I moved to Maine was deleted part of the Maine kayak trial. So I think that this might work out a lot of these days it could be really fun. So that would be cool. Okay. Well we get to the gut plans,
Jesper (7m 0s):
But I'm like,
Autumn (7m 2s):
Oh well I'm, I'm solitary again. As my husband's off, back up in Maine guiding people on moose, watching tours, canoe watching canoe in whitewater rafting. So if I'm getting all these gorgeous pictures of Lake's in the sunsets and moose and I'm sitting in our little cabin and very dry Vermont working on in graphic design thinking to get myself back up to me and as soon as I can, so we're starting to figure that out so that maybe he'll have less of a commute when he goes to work. Instead of being seven hours away, we, we could maybe be a couple of hours away from home. That'd be nice, but otherwise good doing some fun designs.
Autumn (7m 43s):
And we're actually in the middle. I dunno if you can hear the rain, but if anyone hears in the thunder, interesting sounds we're in the middle of the end of a tropical system. So we've had this height. It's like not hot the humidity, but its high humidity in damp and its just been raining like the rainforest all day. It's its very nice, but its also very stinky. So I'm, I'm expecting you to the tree to fall over or some thing again. Oh I know. And a bear coming to the cabinet or something. Hopefully not because I don't really want the dog and the bear to say too much.
Autumn (8m 24s):
Usually every time we dealt with bears, I almost always had the dog like some of our high. So I was never that worried except for one time, literally in this property we were walking to the main house and I saw this creature moving through the field next door in, running into the woods, like running towards us. It was going across our path and I've just looked at me. I'm like, damn, what is there a Shetland pony rules? And then I realized it wasn't a Shetland pony. It was one of the biggest black bears I have seen outside of a Labrador in, I mean I've seen some there seeing a huge, even in a grizzly while we are in dead horse, Alaska, what? This was like at least 300 pounds, he was massive.
Autumn (9m 4s):
And we had the dog with us and he was ahead of us. And he was well-trained if you dropped out and you kind of throw your arms open and you call for him and he's like, oh, so he turns around and comes running for me. And I'm just focusing in on our dog while there is massive black bear runs right behind them. I'm just like, holy, oh, like I said, I had a little fizzy gig. This was a man. He wasn't even on the size of this thing, but it was really cool to get the sealer bear. What I saw that I mostly saw it blurry behind the dogs come back to the, for a cookie.
Jesper (9m 46s):
Well, at, at at least that dog is very quick. I mean, I mean even if the, even if the bear wanted to attack it, I guess that the doc had run away. I mean, I think unless it's the stupid enough to fight back,
Autumn (9m 58s):
Oh, he's a terrier. So we might get an in his head that I can take it out. But
Jesper (10m 5s):
Tell him, I said that you want to fight me.
Autumn (10m 8s):
Oh, do you have food as there at the end of this? Because there's are no food. It's not worth it
Narrator (10m 22s):
Writing Fantasy Podcast.
Jesper (10m 26s):
So Autumn, I thought I would bring something slightly different for this section. Oh,
Autumn (10m 31s):
Okay. I liked do you know? I like changes what's up.
Jesper (10m 36s):
Yeah. I actually found an app that helps to improve your habits and getting rid of bad habits. It's basically like gave me five habits.
Autumn (10m 50s):
That sounds kind of cool. This, this thing.
Jesper (10m 56s):
So yeah, it was because doing the you and your summer holidays, as I was sort of thinking, you know, I do a lot of what is cardio exercising, you know, running and stuff like that, but I don't do very much. So in terms of, of, I don't even know what it is called, like, but do you know like bodies, strength, exercise, and kind of, you know, like core so strange. I don't know how much of that. I, I just mostly do. Oh yeah. I mostly just do running and I thought I should be doing more of a muscle strength than, and body strength and stuff like that, but I've always found that kind of exercise and quite boring.
Jesper (11m 37s):
So I never get around to do it because it's like, ah, nah, I don't want to. So during the summer holidays I started, I, I must find a way where I can sort of motivate myself to do this stuff that I don't want to do. And then I found this app or this app you afford. So especially in, just for the phone that you just downloaded from the app store, but in his called habit RPG. So already from the name, you can hear that it's, it's a game basically.
Autumn (12m 5s):
But if it's
Jesper (12m 6s):
It's pretty cool. Oh yeah, because it's pretty cool because you basically create a character like it's a role-playing game, but so you create a character and you as sort of M you leveling up your characters, so you put it in your own habits. Ah, you can either put it in habits that you want to do. Or you can put that in habits that you wanted to not do right in. I don't want you, if you decide you put it in yourself and then you set your own schedule for like, it could be that I want to do on, I want to not do this thing every day for whatever it may be all. And you can put it in several as well. And you define if it's difficult or easy and so on. And then the more difficult it is, the most experienced point that your character will get from completing it.
Jesper (12m 51s):
And so basically every time that you've done to have that you wanted to do you do you click in the app and you say, okay done. And then your character gets experienced points and he levels up and you can buy equipment for him and all of weapons. And you can go on question and fight boss's in all kinds of stuff. So there's fighting. Like you don't need to sit down and press anything. You just, you just say, I want to fight this boss. And then if you complete enough of your habits, then you'll the feet, the bar. So it's oh, that's awesome. It's pretty in, in a sense it's pretty primitive, right? It is a way to just game-ify your getting good habits. So I showed it to my sons and they've downloaded this as well.
Jesper (13m 33s):
And they, they, they put it in all kinds of habits that they want, they needed to do like a, we need to read more. So they put it in like, and I have to read 10 pages every day and stuff like that. So they put that stuff in, into their habit RPG. And so it's, I think it's pretty cool. So I, I thought I would share that 'cause some people might find something like we got useful.
Autumn (13m 53s):
Oh, I think that sounds really useful. I'm always trying to get myself off of it, the computer in, out the door Morris. So that could be a good one. Usually, you know, the dog encourages me, but he's not exactly high M running or anything. Exercise. He can only go so far being so small. So that would be kind of, I might have to look into it too.
Jesper (14m 15s):
Yeah. It's, it's actually quite cool. Especially for those people who, who like role-playing games and stuff like that, you know, it, this, this will be write down there early and the once you get to the level 10, you can choose. If you want to be a major or a warrior or a range, you're all kinds of this guy. It's
Autumn (14m 32s):
Pretty cool. It is. I could see this totally transforming someone's writing. You can, you know, you're leveling up your role playing game while getting your writing done. So yeah. You can
Jesper (14m 42s):
Put it in. Yeah. Oh yeah. You could put it in your writing sprints, if you want to, like, I want to write 500 words per day. You could put that in to you and say, OK. And then I put that in and every time you do what you press that you've done it. I like it.
Autumn (14m 60s):
Anything else? Oh, oh, I don't think I have anything exciting to announce. I should probably check out stuff, but like, it's been a little hectic. I will have to put that into my role playing habit game.
Jesper (15m 15s):
Oh, wow. Yeah. Okay. So it'd be at, let's move on
Narrator (15m 20s):
And on to today's topic. So,
Jesper (15m 24s):
So race, sex, and sexuality in fantasy. And well, to be honest, Autumn, I'm not sure that in terms of its relevance, that it's any more or less relevant than in fantasy than it is in any other or do you think
Autumn (15m 43s):
I would say it's probably, I agree. It's probably just as important in every genre, but maybe fantasy because of its own history in where it stems from has its own hiccups and problems to overcome might be a way of putting it in what way? That, like, if we say that fantasy started with token, which I agree with, most of the fantasy is a genre did start with him. But fantasy, as a type of storytelling has been going on since, you know, go back to ancient Greece, even prior to that, story's a fantastical nature in a magical beast.
Autumn (16m 25s):
And the incredible powers have been along for around for a long, long time. But if you start with Tolkin and you do read the actual, oh, Lord of the rings, there's very few female characters or absolutely no sex. And there is a lot of instances that if you say this is what our traditions, what were based on, and you looked at what modern readers, like there is a lot to overcome.
Jesper (16m 58s):
Yeah. Especially in now that would just have some the holidays. You know, I have been reading a lot of work over the summer holidays and at least if we were talking about like the sex scenes and stuff like that, not that this erotic erotica bud, but in fences, you novels, like just the fact that you spent almost any time at all talking about what the characters are doing, you know, in a bedroom kind of things there it's, it is very, very limited what there is in it's actually quite rare. I would almost say that in a fantasy book that there
Autumn (17m 33s):
Is anything I like that. Yeah. I would say unless you're getting into fantasy romance, there's some babies in some dark fantasy. And I think that there might be a little bit more, but yeah, you're getting into specific sub genres, but if you're in sort of the and epic or high, I think there's a lot less though. Again, it depends on if it's leaning towards Y a or if it's leaning towards adults.
Jesper (18m 2s):
Yeah. But even the stuff that is written for adults, like epic fantasy novels for adults it's there was almost none of it in, in, in those books. And, and I also think that most readers would expect there not to be stuff like that. So to some extent that I think it is important to consider what reader expectations are and, and think about that. But at the same time, I don't see why this, why you couldn't do it like a bit more of this sexy stuff in the book, if you wanted it to.
Autumn (18m 38s):
I agree. I think there's a definitely room for there's some room for so much. I mean, up until a two books I read recently, I would have said that gender has become almost normalized. There was a time like in the eighties, it was always like the token female you had. I'm all the guys in the question and one token, female, and that's all, there was an almost, I would say almost every book I've picked, picked up since, you know, the digital age of eBooks and E reading, that there was always been a nice cadre of women that were well-developed. But then I read two books in the summer and they are horrible for the portrayals of women.
Autumn (19m 20s):
They were noticeable that all the characters were men or that there's a only bit part's for the women are, they were never point of view characters from the women. And I, in one case, the woman in the story, we were one of the two types. They were either mousy in, quiet, in a little insane, or hard-ass brittle cold and possibly an assassin. And that's it. Those were the only type of woman. And I was like, wow, how did we backslide here? I've heard other authors at her, got male authors say, I don't know how to write women. I've been like, there are people, right? People M you know, everyone's a different, it's not that hard, but then I read these two books.
Autumn (19m 60s):
So I'm like, wow. Some people really don't know how to write the opposite gender. And then I have to admit, I read a different one. What, actually, one of those, the mail point of view character was so strongly was being in the guy's head in a way that most fantasy books I had never been into the house. If I ever needed the description of what it was like to get kicked in the groin for a guy, oh, this book has several really good passages. So I was like, oh, I have never considered that. And so think about it. I've never read that in a fantasy story before either. That's fascinating. Why don't we hear more about this effect and say, oh, I've been in a male's head, you know, the male night for, in male majors for ages.
Autumn (20m 43s):
They've never gotten kicked in the groin. Huh?
Jesper (20m 49s):
Well, yeah, to be fair. I think that's the part that would be difficult to write about the other JIEDDO or if, I mean, that, that, that's going to be difficult to imagine what that feels like. Yes.
Autumn (21m 1s):
I don't expect a guy to under S to write about what it's like the nurse, a child, but they could probably try to make up something. And, you know, at this point I could always refer back to this book if I ever need to write about a guy getting kicked in the groin because very good descriptions, but those are some of the new, so, yeah.
Jesper (21m 22s):
Yeah. But I think apart from like the sexuality stuff that if we also touching or talking about racist, because I think the nice thing about fantasy is that it sort of offers us this freedom as author's too, where we imagine new resources, we create new cultures, but we can use those things as tools too, like examine maybe the sexual biases or gender biases or stuff like that. And Macy may use it as a vehicle to, to make the reader well, could we say like reconsider his or her on her own cultural assumptions to some degree.
Jesper (22m 4s):
So I think that that's what fences, you probably does better than most other genres or Spotify as well. Of course, if you could put that in the same category here, but anything that has to do with like our, the kinds of raises in humans and other kinds of people in cultures where you can start playing with these things and maybe show a different perspective as something that makes the Rita thing a bit of like, huh, oh, I guess, I guess you could look at it like that. You know, because it becomes less dangerous is the wrong word, but it becomes less like confrontational when it's an elf and a dwarf rather than, you know, two humans of, of different skin color or whatever.
Autumn (22m 49s):
I was going to say the same thing that you are differences in skin color become so much less when you're talking about ELs vs door's versus giants versus cognisent dragons are set in and dragons. So sitting at the trees we have, as you know, so there are, I think I agree fantasy, and sci-fi, you have managed to broaden the differentiation of the different races, but also, you know, there's still a lot of subjectivism that there's still a lot of us versus them, you know, human versus, or especially elves, elves are always Hottie. You know, they don't like the other races or dwarves or always in other ways.
Autumn (23m 33s):
So there's always those portrayals. And I think it's exciting when we get into something that has different, that kind of, you even breaks those moles and starts making me question why certain species are like this. It's why I do like fantasy that comes up with new, new creatures and characters and races, because it's fun to see something different. And it was a, and it's also, sometimes I know some of the newer fantasy is much more nuanced. I just finished a book, which I didn't even tell you. I finished my first one that we were currently reading. And it was interesting because it actually kind of talked about religion and some of like, it kind of tied up some Judaism, Muslims sort of like this that they had.
Autumn (24m 20s):
This is one God that has the skin, especially woman's flesh, its just like, oh my goodness. So my you don't cover them head to toe. Don't even talk about like they say the problem of writing along in sex, when you came, you used the word sex is, but it was interesting to look at, it had to have that pulled apart and it was literally, it wasn't even a different race. So they just stuck with humans for the whole book. And I'm like, this is really interesting. I think I have a much better understanding of this mindset and when it's being forced on other people in why other people are trying to force it on other people, I really thought the book was well written in that way. And if it was nice because it was a fantasy world somewhere totally different, it didn't use, you use the totally different God just to kind of pull that out elements at if you were paying attention and you're like, oh, oh this is the sort of probably what inspired them.
Autumn (25m 14s):
And that is so interesting to read.
Jesper (25m 22s):
Yeah. I think that either, if it's like very deep, world-building where it really has nothing to do with like cultures or races or whatever you want to call it here on earth, but it's just so well developed that you can actually understand Y you know, a certain made of raises behaving the way that they do and how they act toward the other genders or if it's really, really deeply built. I really enjoyed at all. I also enjoy. Or if it's, if it's actually to show that you can almost, you, you can sort of recognize that this is probably built on, on, on this, this kind of this culture or this religion or something from, from real life.
Jesper (26m 12s):
But then it just starts to sort of explore the, some different viewpoints on it. Or maybe it makes you sort of understand maybe where these people are coming from me. Not necessarily that, that do you agree from it, from reading it, but at least you can sort of, you start seeing their perspective and you can translate that perspective into real life in some ways, I guess, okay. I, I can sign, they kind of see ware in their culture of this makes sense of something. But I kind of like that if, if it's either, oh, I think the stuff just sort of told a plumber's in the middle where it's just this machine thing and it may be based off some reality, but it doesn't quite either as it's, it's almost not well-built enough either that you can sort of map any of the two sides together.
Jesper (26m 60s):
So I think those are the things that I like the, the least, but it's of course on all of the matter of taste, bud, but I just like, if there is a bit of intention behind it,
Autumn (27m 12s):
Yes. I think the intention is always the importance and it is interesting to watch an author grow because I always, that was told you, I just let red many of lay BARDA goes M novel's. So the growth of stories, and I thought her world building was not top of the notch. You know, if you could obviously tell which parts were from where, what of this world that she was drawing from, you know, Russia Nazis, there was some neat ones. It was sort of like Africa wild west. I'm like, oh, that was kind of a cool thing to lump together, but it was not really original, but it, as a story grow, we grew and the world's grew more in depth than she explored. The more I became more authentic too, where she was when you stopped seeing what it was based on.
Autumn (27m 58s):
And I thought that was good, but it definitely, it took the first trilogy to get there. But what she was incredible, one of the best authors I've read about was her characters in her dynamics and actually in another aspect, she was so good when I mentioned she's really good at plot twists, but she's good at character twist, like looking at race's. So she talked, she had transgender or transsexual homosexual, every bisexual EV I think there was one that might've been more asexual. And so almost every diversity that his modern and his really out there with specially with the younger readers, this as a white book, and yet she covers all of these gender and stereotypic topics so well, and every character is, is unique.
Autumn (28m 43s):
And it's not even that, it's not like when I was reading books as a kid that might deal with homosexuals or asexuals or something, it was always kinda like, you know, if that was so controversial in her world, no, it just is. It's just, just the way it is an accepted. I'm like, this is nice. It's nice to get into that mindset where this is not something you need to bring up and tear her apart and explain it as just like, oh no, that's fine. That's fine till you're a woman, but you would rather be a man. Okay. We're good. Just like this, this wonderful. This is perfect. So that was one thing that you said in her character, his and how they relate it to the world in related to each other.
Autumn (29m 26s):
I see why she's doing as well as she is, because she's very brilliant in now that her world is getting deeper. Its really good. But yeah, if when you get a chance to read her, as you're going to have to take a little breath every once in a while, because there's definitely parts of the world, you'd be like, oh good, have done more to it. But I think she's a great example of looking at genders and the stereotypes and characters and you know, again, she doesn't have different races. She doesn't have elves and dwarves in all of those things that keeps with humans. And I think that's becoming a lot more of a trend. I'm seeing, you know, some of the high fantasy books going that way, but there's a lot of books that are coming out there.
Autumn (30m 8s):
It's just people just humans' and just exploring the topic and be in religion or gender, why they were mean to each other, what are the cultural differences? Why are we fighting? And those are all of a hidden Subutex. And it's like, wow, this is, this is different. And I kind of think that's so special in its own way,
Jesper (30m 31s):
But that was also a bit of what I meant when I said that I'm in my fantasy in this regard and makes you reflect a bit about that, your own opinions to people who are of a different sexual orientation than yourself. If you know, reading a hundred thousand words about these people or however long the book is, but, but you are spending a considerable amount of time in the head of these characters and you start to understand or at least see how they live their life and, and what it means to them. And, and that's where I think it really matters a lot of these kinds of things because it helps us become better people basically.
Jesper (31m 15s):
'cause we start to understand that. I mean that this is what reading dusty people in my view, like we, we become better. People, stories heal people because you, you, you, you become more in empathic towards others because you start understanding how they feel and so on. And so I think that that is all very good. But at the end of the day, I'm also thinking now that we're talking about it, that if we are talking about a topic like sex or race or sexuality and stuff like that in, in books, what it really comes down to at the end of the day is just a conversation about characters actually. You know, because with you, it is just the matter of these characters.
Jesper (32m 0s):
They are who they are and their experiences through the life that they live influence who they are. So the person and they influence their surroundings, but they aren't just people.
Autumn (32m 14s):
No, that's so true. And it is also, you have characters who, you know, they overcome, they get to be friends with people they might not have thought of before. And so maybe you start seeing that other side, it's really, it's up to authors. And again, you could be maybe a very narrow mindset author where something is right, and something is wrong. And that's what you want to put in your story. But to be authentic to that, you should understand the other side as well. But I would say a lot of fantasy authors have at least the ones that I read are a very liberal and they were trying to make you see, people are people and life is living. You know, whether it's a sentiment tree or a dragon or your next door neighbor who you really just can't stand, but there are a person than they have feelings.
Autumn (33m 1s):
And so if that comes out in fantasy, that we do our best to understand it. And in your right, the science, there is a bit of actually quite a few studies about readers and reading. And it shows that people who read a lot of books actually have more empathy and they understand we live a hundred, you know, a thousand different lives, but through the stories. So we understand people in can transport ourselves into someone else's head so much easier as a reader. I haven't seen the studies as authors, but I would assume it probably carries over 'cause we really, as an author, you really spend time in heads. I've whether it's a villain or like you always bring up that politician that I just could not get into his head.
Autumn (33m 45s):
I am not meant for politics. Did you learn something about the strengths and weaknesses of other people by putting yourself in their heads and writing a hundred thousand words in there? Point of view. And I've always said my FA my favorite character is the one who's point of view I'm writing in it at this moment. I don't care if they were the worst character in the room were the best character in the room. But they're my favorite one, because I am going to tell the story to the best of my ability to tell their story the best way I can. And so when you do that, you do transform yourself and you open yourself up to other possibilities. And that is the power of story is to be able to maybe bring some understanding the world in I've said before, it's changed fantasy change.
Autumn (34m 34s):
The reading I did as a teenager changed who I became because I grew up in a very conservative, very small minded community and I was reading it. It wasn't even dragon Lance Mercedes Lackey. I was totally the one in who I read some things about, you know, a woman. I still remember the scene, a woman who was selling a was a prostitute and they were writing buy in the one person it's like, oh, well that is so low of her. And I was like, she has nothing else to sell, but herself, she isn't that bad of shape in that out of poverty. And it kinda like, this is a slap in the face. I'm like, so yeah, this isn't like, it's a moral choice. She has no other choice. And it made me start questioning things from a very young age and wondering about the stuff I was being taught and whether it was right and how I wanted to view the world.
Jesper (35m 27s):
Yeah. I think that's, you, you, you were saying a lot of true things too, because essentially, and like you say, if the character, they didn't have any choice, if you, that the fact that the customer didn't have any choice, then that gives you a new perspective. But on the flip side, have that, for example, we've, we've been doing a lot of, or still are doing a lot of research about pirate history and stuff like that, because we want to write a, some stories about pirates in the future. And with regard to all that research as well, we both watch the Netflix show is the pirate kingdom. Oh yeah. I'm and there are, for example, it really rocked me the wrong way.
Jesper (36m 12s):
That's how they protect, portray and Bonny in that series. There 'cause, if you have like, like you were ex just explaining that from that book, if you understand why to coat it is in that situation. And they act that way because maybe they don't have any choice or maybe they have chosen this because it made sense or it aligns with their motivations or whatever, then it is fine. But in the Netflix show, for example, I really, I must say I really enjoyed the show, so I, I'm not putting the showdown because it is, I think it's really informative and a very good show. If you like pirates, then go and watch it. But the one thing that I did not like what was the on Bonnie pot, because they basically portray her.
Jesper (36m 55s):
Like, she's just as a kind of prostitute that just runs around and does the, you know, prostitute thing in quotation marks here. Yeah. But, but if they don't give her any sort of motivation or explain anything, so afterwards during the summer holidays hear I got a bit of annoyed with it. So I actually went and I found a nonfiction book about Anne Bonny and her life. And then I bought that and read it. And my God, she
Autumn (37m 21s):
Is so fascinating. It's so fascinating,
Jesper (37m 25s):
But they just did not get that across at all. And that a Netflix show, which was the shame, but the, the whole point that I was just trying to make here is that it doesn't really matter if a character is of a certain sexuality, or if there are in a certain situation whereby they are doing things that normally would be frowned upon. But if you can make sure that it is clear why day in the situation and why, what they're doing is aligned with maybe their motivation is just to me, I need to do this to get out of this situation. Or, you know, long-term, I, I, if I can just earn enough money, I can buy my ticket out of here or whatever it may be. But as long as it's clear, why are they doing what they're doing?
Jesper (38m 9s):
You can easily have characters who are doing things or are acting certain ways, or maybe that's just the way that AI on the personality. But if, if the Rita at least understand, don't, don't necessarily agree with it. But if they at least understand why, then you can get away with all of these things. And then at the same time, you will make the reader start, think a bit about, well, maybe these kinds of people who does this thing that I don't like, whatever that may be, that maybe they're not too bad, all of them. Right. And, and thus, you, you will start healing the world that bit.
Autumn (38m 45s):
So just a bit, I hope. And I do you think to play on me to add to that is that I think a lot of traditional fantasy up until possibly recently, the people who are different we're changing or leaving there society because they we're like the cultural as normal. And so they were going to find a group where they're accepted. I think that's something a lot of us feel, but I have noticed a shift where there's a lot more stories where no, they want to speak up for the other people in their society who feel the same way, who are also put it down. They don't want to just, if it's not the classic tropes is like, like I said, this, the token female, she's the only one who wants to be your hero.
Autumn (39m 29s):
And she is the only one who wants to go carry a sword. Well, no, now she's speaking up for her best friend and the sisters that are out there who are, they should be given the choice. And I've noticed that a lot on several, the books that I've read recently. And so I see that as a cultural shift where it's like, people don't want to be the only one. They know that there's enough other people in the planet, even if its a fantasy world there or not, the only one and they want to help everyone. And I think that's also exciting. And again, I think it's interesting. Like if I was studying this in school, you could actually track the difference, the society and the different generations and how we're trying to make things better and save for a lot of different people.
Autumn (40m 12s):
And it shows and our fiction. And if that is the importance of why it is in there, that's why when society goes crazy, they start outlawing and then burning books. That's why I wasn't Plato who said, you know, basically books are one of the things. If you wanna have a controlled society, you don't let people read because as soon as they start reading, they start understanding each other's so much better. So yeah, they might be fantasy, but it's incredibly powerful literature and it'll change people's minds.
Jesper (40m 46s):
Yeah. Oh, well it still happens today in some parts of the world where you're not allowed to read whatever you want. Exactly. And yeah, it's not even that foreign. Yeah.
Autumn (40m 54s):
It's not, unfortunately, I mean there is, we were just talking about other current cultural things going on in, you know, there is a lot of societies where women are not allowed to read or the different people are not taught to read and it's to control them. Once you give people the ability to read, they start questioning and they start learning and they might learn something that you can't control. And I think that's, that's why reading and literacy is so important. And that's why as authors, it's also important that the things we put into our stories, it's one thing to tell the tale, I'm all for a really good story. But I, even if it's not an overt a thing I put into the plot, I think my world view of who is of, of accepting people in protecting life, in caring for people just comes through because those tend to me, the characters I create, or I tend to push all the characters that way eventually.
Autumn (41m 51s):
And the other ones just get tossed off
Jesper (41m 58s):
This entire conversation. Just got a lot deeper than I thought,
Autumn (42m 4s):
Oh, well I think that we can blame Dominic. It is all your fault. Thank you for asking this question. But yeah. So I guess it was an easy question to answer. Does it make a difference? What gender sex, race, ethnicity, or whatever you want to call you or your characters? Is it a big deal to have those in your fantasy? It's possibly the biggest deal if you want to change the world.
Jesper (42m 31s):
Yeah. Well, yeah. And it's about creating characters and what race and sex and sexuality they are, that that's part of my being. And so it is very important. And to me, it's, it's not something you just pick at random, you know, trying to think a bit about it when you create your characters and see if you can incorporate something that, and now that you need to force any of it into the, in the story, if it doesn't belong there, but if it would make sense or if it would give a different perspective to some of the storytelling and basically enhance the story, then why not use it. And also during your world building, I think it would be good to think about some things and think about how would it influence society.
Jesper (43m 12s):
How would it influence other characters? If this couch is very different from everybody else, how, how would that influence relationship's and so on? And how do you society view of this group of people or this particular race or whatever it may be. You know, all those sorts of things are very important to think about. So does it matter? Yes. I think it matters a lot. I agree.
Autumn (43m 35s):
I think we can wrap it up there that this is, this is important and I agree, especially world-building in should come from there. You should not just pick because diversity is a good buzz word. And because you want to be popular around among the Gentiles, you're going to have someone who's transgender, don't do it to be popular or to get the sales, do it because you are care about the topic you've researched it, you understand it, it fits the character and it's the world you want to create. Don't just do it to try to, you know, fit in for the other readers. Do your homework readers will know. They'll know what the difference.
Jesper (44m 12s):
Yeah. The story is king. As we like to say some times
Autumn (44m 17s):
Jesper (44m 18s):
Well next Monday I have an excellent interview lined up for you. I'm talking to Jane Friedman about traditional publishing contracts.
Narrator (44m 25s):
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