POCs = People of Color
So rather generally I just wanted to discuss writing POCs in NA fiction!
When writing a book it is very important to know your characters. If you don’t know them and try to make them do things or be things they aren’t readers can tell that something is off. That it doesn’t feel right. The same goes for writing POCs. In The Space Between, one of my leads is a Korean male who was adopted into a Caucasian family. That’s the way I saw him from the beginning. That’s who he was just as much as his heroine is biracial (black/white) with a Caucasian best friend. These characters organically formed in my head that way. I didn’t make them that way they just were.
Cassandra Clare of the Mortal Instruments series also discusses this in regards to her biracial (Asian/Caucasian) character Magnus as well as author Rainbow Rowell about her biracial (Asian/Caucasian) character Park from Eleanor and Park.
Characters are who they are and can’t be forced to be a certain race otherwise they will read foreign in the writing.
I tend to get asked a lot why there are not more POCs in NA fiction. In general, POCs are hard to come by in any category of fiction. NA, YA, MG, etc., and there are many reasons for this. Here are a couple I've seen pop up the most. Many authors are very afraid of playing upon stereotypes of a certain race when writing a POC, and others feel if they write a person of color that the issue of race has to be the main focus of the work.
Authors do not necessarily have to be the same race of their characters to share their experiences. Just like a female author can write a male POV without herself being male. Sharing the experiences of other races and genders can be done without having to share that same characteristic of a written character. Same goes for writing about people with different political affiliations and religious beliefs. That is what is so nice about writing. As authors, we can touch upon topics and issues that we may never have experienced before. It only helps us grow as individuals to research and explore the many different people around us.
Also, race definitely does not have to be the main focus of the writing when writing POCs at all. I’ve written manuscripts where it is and it isn’t, as well as read books featuring both.
So now, I bring you the quick version of this post for the skimmers :P
Writing a POC? Make sure that’s who they are not who you’re forcing them to be.
Why are there not many POCs in NA fiction? Some authors don’t feel comfortable sharing the experiences of a POC since they themselves may not be one, but don’t be afraid! Create the story that you feel is right.
Does race have to be the main issue in books featuring POCs? Absolutely not! So write what you want and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise :D
Have any questions about POCs in fiction? Ask away and I’ll answer in the comments below!