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Colouring our voices: An exploration of ethnic diversity in genre fiction

By Lynette Leong


Research problem: This study investigated the reading, writing, and publishing experiences of ethnically diverse writers of diverse popular fiction (romance and speculative fiction), and the role libraries played for writers in learning to write and build their career in Western publishing. In exploring the difficulties and supporting factors writers experienced, it sought to understand how libraries could play a part in encouraging more diversity in popular fiction. Methodology: Research adopted a Critical Race Methodology in conducting problem-centred qualitative interviews with 12 authors via Skype/face-to-face/email. Data was analysed using thematic analysis with an inductive, latent, essentialist/realist approach. Results: Major themes identified were: It’s more than just a story; What we talk about when we talk about ‘diverse’ stories; Diverse stories are invisible/‘too’ visible; The same… but more; Libraries become invisible/opaque; Libraries as gatekeepers. Diverse writers shared common difficulties and supports as non-diverse writers, but difficulties unique to diverse writers often stemmed from perceptions of diverse stories, which presented barriers to readers and publishers. Promotion by story elements, rather than diversity, could overcome some barriers, and conversations and communities were important for support. A lack of diverse stories and promotion contributed to difficulties. Libraries contributed positively to most writers’ development early on, but had less of a role/less effective roles later. Implications: Libraries need to be more visible overall, play a more proactive role in working with writers, be more aware of diversity issues, and promote diverse stories in a way that appeals to all readers. Being part of open conversation about diversity with readers and writers can assist libraries in meeting their needs, and help push for greater diversity in popular fiction

Topics: Diversity, Genre fiction, Libraries, Authorship
Year: 2015
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