I fell in love with New Adult because it allowed me to write about the most exciting time in my life. It was my first time living away from my parents. The first time I was responsible for paying, or not being able to pay, my own rent. Which inevitably led to me learning that splurging with my shiny new credit card would come back to bite me in the…assets.
Those years were a time of exploration and growth. It was also the first time I had a place to call my hometown.
As a military brat, I moved with my family every two years. I learned how to assimilate into a new environment like a Star Trek New Generation Borg, instinctually adopting the accents and mannerisms of people residing in the new city or country. When you’re the new kid in town, it’s hard to fit in if you don’t know the customs of the people you’re trying to befriend. And it’s easy to accidentally insult someone out of ignorance.
To this day, I still pick up accents or speech patterns of whomever I’m speaking to without even realizing it. Even those yammering characters in my head, demanding that I write their stories, have their own unique voices. It’s getting those voices onto the page that can be tricky.
Traveling provided me with the opportunity to learn about cultures that I never would have been able to interact with otherwise. It taught me to embrace diversity. And I learned that we are all human beings regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation.
There are positive and negative elements in all cultures, but what one culture considers to be offensive isn’t necessarily seen the same way in another. It’s all in the perspective. My goal is to do my best to be non-judgmental and open to listening to another person’s point-of-view.
I’m sharing this so you’ll understand why I have a multicultural cast of characters in my debut NA Southern Gothic, DARK PARADISE. I write from my worldview, which evolves with each new person and new experience. As an African American woman of Louisiana Creole heritage, I want the world I create in my imagination to be reflective of the world I see outside my window. I want my biracial children to see characters in my novels who mirror themselves and their parents.
I strive to bring each of my characters to life on the page as individuals. Their cultural identity is a part of who the character is, but doesn’t define them. Just as it is a huge part of who I am, but doesn’t define me. I am made up of more than my culture, but my culture and experiences are the lenses through which I interpret the world.
Other people will view the world through the lenses of their own cultures and personal experiences. This is why having books available that focus on diversity is so important. For some, books are the only way they will ever have the opportunity to learn about another culture. And education is the key to overcoming ignorance. It is far easier to hate what you don’t understand.
There are many New Adult authors, traditional and indie, who are writing diverse characters because these are the characters who spoke to them. These authors share the same fears and hopes for acceptance of their novels as I do. I feel each person’s experiences are valid and should be respected. Respect doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them, especially if their opinion stems from lack of knowledge. It’s about having the ability to see through another person’s eyes without judgment and being open to change. Writing authentic multicultural characters is like not being able to catch all of your own typos. Sometimes you’re too close to the story to see where you need some assistance in cultural sensitivity. You need other people to read and interpret what you're writing.
I have seven beta readers, from a variety of cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, who slap me upside the head when I go wrong. I’m not perfect. Or an expert. I won’t always “get it right,” but I do my best to grow as an author with each book I write, because I won’t give up the journey. I’ll learn from it.
About the Author:
Angie Sandro was born at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Within six weeks, she began the first of eleven relocations throughout the United States, Spain, and Guam before the age of eighteen.
Friends were left behind. The only constants in her life were her family and the books she shipped wherever she went. Traveling the world inspired her imagination and allowed her to create her own imaginary friends. Visits to her father's family in Louisiana inspired this story.
Angie now lives in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an overweight Labrador