Too “ethnic”? Not “ethnic” enough? Five SFF Authors dish the dirt.

Mexican SFF author Silvia Moreno-Garcia was feeling all somehow about the publishing industry (and who could blame her) so she put together a twitter poll asking if other POC SFF authors felt the same way. Some of us answered, and she asked us to elaborate.

So we did in this nifty guest blog roundtable: 50 Shades of POC.

Go check out what folks like Maurice Broaddus, Indrapramit Das, LeKesha Lewis, Valerie Valdes and, of course, myself, have to say about being “ethnic” and writing Science Fiction/Fantasy.


My 2016 Top 12 Fav (and Sometimes Important) Articles from Indian Country

On December 19, 2016, Huffpo published an article titled “26 Of The Most Important Articles By People Of Color In 2016”.  Unfortunately, in a year full of exciting events in Indian Country, including the historical #NoDAPL protest, the list failed to include a single Native American writer. [NOTE: The list has now been updated to “30 of the Most Important…” and now includes one Native writer.] I want to do my small part to remedy that oversight, so in light of Native voices being overlooked and continually erased in mainstream media, I present my own list of top 12 favorite (and sometimes important) articles by Native/First Nations/Indigenous Writers* in 2016. Enjoy!

In no particular order:

  1. On the Shameful and Skewed ‘Redskins’ Poll by Jacqueline Keeler
    Keeler deftly unpacks the troubling demographics, shoddy journalism, and real-world impact of the now infamous WaPo poll that suggested Natives are A-OK with the slur-tastic football team.
  2. “Magic in North America”: The Harry Potter franchise veers too close to home by Adrienne Keene
    Taking on the queen of children’s literature and her formidable online army of trolls, Keene questions the Native American representation in Rowling’s newest series.
  3. Indigenous languages recognize gender states not even named in English by Angela  Sterritt
    First Nations and Native American communities had a wider range of gender and sexuality before first contact with Europeans. Sterritt highlight how these modern-sounding but very traditional ways can move us forward today.
  4. Photos: Indigenous Comic Con 2016 Brings Indigenerds to Albuquerque by Jason Asenap
    Bring on the Indigenerds! Asenap snaps some great shots from the first ever Indigenous ComicCon, and a Navajo Rey from Star Wars steals my heart.
  5. Indians for Trump Speak in Termination Tongue by Alex Jacobs
    Jacobs holds nothing back as he takes at look at past Republican resource extraction policy and the “sellouts” and “fort Indians” Trump has gathered around him.
  6. Indigenous Biology by Ruth Hopkins
    On the relationship between Indigenous science, ceremony and spirituality.
  7. Moana and Resistence Spectating by Richard Wolfgramm
    A Tongan critic examines the pros and cons, the highs and lows, and the messy capitalism that happens when Disney takes on Polynesian culture.
  8. Journey to Starbucks: A White Way of Knowledge by Terese Marie Mailhot
    Using her sharp wit, Mailhot flips the tables on ethnology in a way that will have you looking at that flat white in a whole new light.
  9. At Standing Rock, No One Goes Hungry: The Kitchen That Serves Traditional Lakota Food and Values by Michael Running Wolf
    A peak into the amazing kitchen at Standing Rock that’s serving up traditional Lakota food and lifeways.
  10. AN OPEN LETTER TO THAT LADY WHO HAS ALL THE ANSWERS TO #NODAPL by Renee Nejo [This was the article later added to the HuffPo list, which definitely deserves mention.]
    So you know all those stereotypes about Natives that you’ve heard? That we don’t pay taxes or get to go to school for free. Let Nejo set you straight.
  11. No Peace for Our Time: Trump Is Coming For Indian Country’s Land and Resources by Gyasi Ross
    Ross raises the alarm. Much is at stake for Indian Country under a Trump administration, including our very sovereignty. If we don’t fight back, there may be nothing left to fight for.
  12. Apocalypse Logic by Elissa Washuta
    One woman’s lyrical and often moving meditation on the history of her family, her own trauma and what it is to be Native American today.

And a bonus 13, which includes me. So while it is true that it is one of my favorites, and arguably important, I think it might be cheating to include it in my top 12. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it.

13. “WATER IS LIFE”: A ROUNDTABLE ABOUT COASTS AND RIVERS AFFECTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE by Rebecca Roanhorse, Ishki Ricard and (non-Native contributors Kate Elliot and Joyce Chng).
Four speculative fiction writers talk about the role of climate change in their lives and in the art they make.

*There were also some great articles written by non-Natives on Native issues, like the very insightful Fake Cowboys and Real Indians by Timothy Egan, but I’m only focused on Native Writers in my list.

My novel is coming! TRAIL OF LIGHTNING

I am thrilled to share the news: my debut novel is coming from Saga Press (Simon & Schuster). Here’s the announcement with the A+ tagline from Publisher’s Weekly.

Roanhorse Strikes Lightning at Saga
Joe Monti at Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press took world rights to two books by debut author Rebecca Roanhorse, in a preempt, from agent Sara Megibow at KT Literary. The first book under contract, Trail of Lightning, is set on a Navajo reservation in the near future, after the collapse of society. It follows a young Navajo woman who, Megibow said, “hunts monsters with the help of an untested medicine man.” The book was pitched, she added, as “an indigenousMad Max: Fury Road.” Trail of Lightning is scheduled for publication in summer 2018.

Follow me here or on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex for updates.

Pottermore is just more disappointment

A few thoughts on the Pottermore  “Magic in North America” controversy. If you aren’t up on it, check out Native Appropriations thoughts on the matter. They are good background reading.

Now, I’m not one of those people who think non-Natives shouldn’t write about Native people or have Native characters. Believe it or not, Natives are not a monolith and we often have different opinions on these things. Native Appropriations’ opinion (linked above) as a cultural critic and professor, are more circumspect. Mine, especially as a writer of fantasy, are probably more liberal. I think it can be done, and done well. Yes, I prefer Native people write about ourselves and tell our own stories, but, hey, I like a good story no matter who writes it. And J.K. Rowling can write a great story.

So imagine how excited, yes EXCITED, I was to hear she was going to incorporate Native Americans into her new “Magic in North America” series. My mind ran fertile with images of the Iroquois Confederacy’s version of quidditch. Surely the inventors of lacrosse would blow other quidditch teams out of the sky. And I loved the idea of a powerful Ancestral Puebloan (aka Anasazi) wizarding school in Chaco Canyon or Mesa Verde. I swooned over the idea of rivalries between the Haida school and the Seminoles, just like the BeauxBatons and the Drumstrang. (Can you imagine how cool the Haida school crest would be? *chills*).

But we got none of that.

We got loincloths.

(I have a funny story about my BIL being an extra in a movie and having to wear a loincloth, but anyway…where was I?)

We got called “American” from the 14th to 17th century (which is just frankly wrong and anachronistic and lazy, if you ask me.)

We got glossed as a single people: “Native Americans”. And there went my dream of a Pueblo Wizarding school, because a continent of people were conflating to one loincloth-wearing group. I wept.

Look at this imagined map and tell me your little writer mind doesn’t just explode with possibility.


Now there are some other problematic things in the “Magic in North America” read, but other more competent people are addressing them. Twitter is aflutter with Native commentary, and blogs are fired up and rolling out textual critiques about the real harm done in perpetuating stereotypes and erasure. I’m just here to mourn the failure of imagination in a world so richly imagined in so many ways, I feel like Rowling just let us down.


The rich tradition of African storytelling is making the leap to comics By Curt Hopkins

These look awesome, esp:

The Pack, an adventure about of a group of Egyptian werewolves, is written and illustrated by Paul Louise-Julie, an American-born and well-traveled artist of French-Caribbean heritage. In an essay he wrote for Bleeding Cool, Louise-Julie said that as a black man he found the Western mythology of comics and his inability to connect with the white heroes deeply unsatisfying.

Then, while visiting West Africa, a Wolof man introduced Louise-Julie an oral historian. They spent hours absorbed the mythology of an epic story-telling session that reviewed the region’s expansive history. Inspired, Louise-Julie embarked on a years-long research project that led him to design more than 30 civilizations to populate his title. He used J.R.R. Tolkien’s work as a template on how to adapt the mythology to make something brand new and ancient at the same time.

“I thought: If I ever want to see more originally Black fantasy completely unrelated to racism or social commentary, I had to go to the roots,” he wrote.”