My first novel, The Edge of Darkness, had a heroine of Filipino descent. She was the daughter of immigrants to Australia. I’m hyper aware of the issue of race. In my writing, the race issue if often softened because above being Filipino, Max was Australian. Australia is a very diverse country. At least 20% of the population are second generation immigrants and at least 25% of Australian residents are born overseas.
In NaNoNovel 2011 (still untitled as yet) my heroine is white. I can’t do anything to change that, and quite frankly I don’t want to. I’m happy with her being white. I’m not trying to change the world by having a white girl write every book with a lead from a different race. But I’m not happy with my entire book being filled with white characters, expecially in a culture as diverse as Australia.
So I made one of the hot love interest guys Polynesian (because oh my gosh have you seen Polynesian hotties? I love my Englishman but still). I wanted the guy that ended up winning Tina to be a skinny ginger nerd (because a skinny ginger nerd dating a Goth girl who could kill him with her pinky? Totally awesome). But I couldn’t reconcile the fact that the Polynesian guy (Lachlan) was going to come off second best to a white guy (Connor) while trying to win the affection of a white girl.
Sure, I’m more than capable of writing Lachlan as a decent guy but quite frankly, he’s not. He’s modelled on the Edward/Patch/Daniels of the world. I didn’t want the hot guy to win against the nerd. I wanted the nerd to win because quite frankly, nerds are hot. And nerds deserve more of a voice in young adult literature.
I couldn’t bring a reconcilliation into the whole white-girl-chooses-white-guy-over-racial-minority no matter how humanely I portray Lachlan. Even if I don’t focus on his race (they’re all Australian) there’s always going to be at least one person screaming RACIST at me.
So Connor the ginger nerd has been demoted and Tina’s love interest is now someone else. Someone of another racial minority. Someone whom her parents would kill if they found out she was dating.
Because he’s a demon.