Heather Marie Adkins
Earlier this year, I took a full time position working in the public relations and marketing department of a public library. And I love it! I work on a vast majority of the library’s graphic designs, as well as maintaining the website, the monthly bulletin, and various other marketing projects we run, like Staff Picks.
But by far my favorite part of my job isn’t even paid – our department runs the Best of the Year committees. We track down the hottest, buzziest books released this year, and a team of our librarians read them. At the end of the year, we make decisions on which were the best of each category. Being on our booklist committees has opened my eyes to the lack of diversity in mainstream fiction. Not because what we’re reading isn’t diverse – but because what I WAS reading before had no diversity at all.
Literary fiction and young adult fiction has exploded with the best in diverse novels, from Benjamin Alire Saenz’s gorgeous Spanish/Mexican worlds to Adam Silvera’s heartbreakingly beautiful LGBTQ fiction, and beyond. I’ve not picked up a book for these committees that didn’t celebrate some form of diversity, and they have all left me breathless.
I didn’t realize how small my reading world had become. Plain vanilla white American man-loves-woman. There’s nothing wrong with that on the surface… but there is. Because this world is so much more than that. This world is black, white, Muslim, Hindu, gay, lesbian, trans, Asian – we are SO MUCH MORE than what is portrayed in entertainment.
This long-overdue breakthrough came to me not long before Sigils & Spells became a concept. I’d always written supporting characters into my novels with different skin colors, beliefs, and sexual orientations, but it had never occurred to me that I could write a main protagonist that didn’t look like me. What do I know about being black or Latina? They say write what you know, and clearly, I couldn’t do that justice. Right?
But maybe that’s why we’ve ended up where we are, with a lack of diversity in the mainstream, while the beauty in diverse fiction flies under the radar on literary lists.
You could say, as a pagan writer who puts pagan themes and beliefs in her books, that I’m representing a minority in fiction. I represent that minority in real life, too. I’ve been spit on. Cursed to hell. Even physically assaulted. All because I’m pagan. This is so very small compared to the racism and sexism happening in our world today, but it’s my experience, which gives me a foundation of understanding that maybe someone else might not have.
Many people have embraced the beauty in diversity. We understand that inclusiveness brings people closer together, and sheds light on the importance of our similarities as humans. But there is a horribly, scarily large population that lives on the opposite end of the spectrum. They don’t believe love is love. They believe their skin color and religious beliefs make them superior.
I wanted to be a part of this set because it’s a movement I believe in. I believe love is love, and I don’t care what God or gods you worship, as long as you are a good person. I don’t think my white skin gives me any superiority over others, and I acknowledge that in parts of the world, it does give me privileges that ALL people should have.
I am a bisexual pagan female living in the American South, listening to her elders speak in racist words that make me sick to my stomach.
I believe freedom isn’t yet free. But I hope one day it will be.
After all, we’re all the same when the lights are out.
ABOUT HEATHER MARIE
Heather Marie Adkins writes too much but still too little. She also has too many cats, not enough tequila, and a torrid love affair with procrastination. She is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels.
Heather resides in north-central Kentucky with a sarcastic cop who is entirely too dependent on puns. When she’s not plotting her next story or herding felines, she works at the library.
Cross through the looking glass into Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Dystopian realms where you’ll meet valiant heroes, kick-ass heroines, and dangerous creatures waiting to unveil the hidden corners of the universe.
SIGILS & SPELLS includes more than twenty exclusive novels that roam the sands of Egypt, slip into the shadows of 1940s Los Angeles, voyage to the mystical land of Mabi, and dare to traverse the stars.
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Including stories from…
Kris Austen Radcliffe
USA Today bestselling authors Heather Marie Adkins and Alex Owens
Paul C Middleton and Lee Hayton
Lily Luchesi & Faith Marlow
Award-Winning author Carmen Fox
USA Today bestselling author Katalina Leon
USA Today bestselling author Cate Farren
Award-Winning author V.A. Dold
Award-Winning author Ali Cross
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