DIVERSITY IN LITERATURE: THERE ISN'T A STORY YOU CAN'T TELL
Meg Collett wrote: "Hey Ksenia! Fellow indie here. I wanted to know your take on culture appropriation and diversity within literature, i.e., if there are some stories that we simply cannot tell because they do not belong to us. I would love to know your thoughts or if you've already put them into a blog that I might have missed. Love what you do and how you do it. High fives to you lady."
Hey Meg! Thank you for this wonderful question. I did blog on diversity once, and it yanked me out of my ignorance and sparked a heated conversation, which was a good blow to my head to realize the sordid state of acceptance in America, regardless of your gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, disability, and so on. It tore the pink glasses off my face. You see, I came to America believing I have escaped a cesspool of human misery, but I was wrong. Our misery is everywhere, in every country.
The bubble burst when I understood that I was protected by my white privilege, my pretty looks, and my small circle of friends and acquaintances, mostly Russian. It's when I started writing that I saw what lay beyond this little world I lived in. My first reaction was, disbelief. My second reaction was, rebel (which you see in this post). My third reaction now is, add to the voice of change by staying true to my art. I do it by writing what moves me, and not because I try to make my books diverse—what moves me might not be accepted by majority. For example, JANNA (or ZHENYA, if I decide to change the title) has a black protagonist. I'm white. I got some early backlash about this on Twitter from some black writers, telling me they've had enough pain, and that I shouldn't add to their pain by writing about a mad serial killer who is a black woman. I hear their pain, but I will still write that book because it will help me understand what it's like to wear a black skin in America and relate to that pain, though I will never fully know it. I can only hope to come close. The same way someone black and born in America will never know what it was like growing up as a Russian girl in Soviet Union, but I would love it if they wrote a book about it and tried to come close. This is what humanity is about, wearing each others shoes. (By the way, I'm making JANNA, or ZHENYA, come from Soviet Union to America for this reason, you'll see.)