Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Diversity, why we fight the good fight

I'm incredibly proud of the Ash Mistry books, they were a story that had been brewing since I was pretty young and went to see The Jungle Book and saw a hero up on the screen that was brown, for once.
Heroes are heroes. Their qualities are universal. Loyalty, sacrifice and capacity for love is what defines them.

It also helps, when fighting demon hordes, to be pretty BADASS.

They've had a lot of support from the great and the good. Fans, there are a few. The mythmaster himself, RICK RIORDAN (I hope he doesn't mind the name dropping), loved SAVAGE FORTRESS and if it's good enough for him, well, I think there might be something in it for you to enjoy too.

Which brings me to a sad, but true, story. Which might explain why these books sometimes, sometimes, don't get into your hands. Because no-one tells you about them.

When Ash was first launched here in the UK, I went to a 'meet and greet' with a large selection of booksellers. Now these were invited to HarperCollins HQ, so were the chosen few.
I waltzed around the room, telling them how excited I was that Ash was coming out, how it delved into mythology, history and just EPIC heroicness.
Then I met a bookseller who nodded politely then said:

"I can't see the point stocking it. We've no Indians in our town."

Well, I doubt she had any hobbits either but I bet she sold a few copies of The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings in her shop.

It's a shame that it should be judged on that, rather than the contents of the book which deal with self-sacrifice, loyalty and the true, universal nature of heroism, which is fighting the good fight when all is stacked against you.

So, I'm incredibly proud of all the great writers, publishers, librarians and booksellers and READERS that do support the push to make books dealing in diversity JUST MORE OUT THERE. I'm not  sure we need more books on diversity, there are plenty out there already, maybe just a bit hard to find in some sad cases?



Chief, Cook and Bottle washer said...

Absolutely agree that there are some wonderful 'diverse' stories out there but so many narrow-minded people who don't feel the need to stock them (in their schools as well as in shops). This happens just as much in picture books (and I have a variant on the 'hobbit' reply and point out that they have no objection to stocking books with tigers or polar bears). I'm going to go to Waterstones in Windsor in the morning and ask if your book is in stock... Keep fighting the good fight!

Chief, Cook and Bottle washer said...

Agree absolutely with what you say (I have my own varient on your 'hobbits' answer when I get the same response about my picture books (I point out that they DO stock picture books with Polar Bears and Tigers).
Spread the word is right - I'll be popping into my local bookshop to ask if they've got any Ash Mistry books in stock. Keep fighting the good fight. Anna McQuinn

Jan J. said...

It is very important! I adopted two girls from China. They would comment often when smaller (they are 17 now) on not seeing Asian faces in ads or stories. Of course I sought out books with people that looked like them, and they are out there but they had a hard time finding much when cruising the book store. They would often race through the toy department and report - nope, no Asian dolls. I am thankful to those who both write and publish stores with diverse characters - not just Asian but all cultures and races. We tried to read some of them all!

SarwatC said...

Hey Jan! Yes, I know what you mean. My first series was about a mixed race heroine because of my own kids being the same and wanting to bring something new into teh mix. Have you heard of Cindy Pon? Check out her Silver Phoenix series, it will be perfect for your daughters!

jcwelker said...

Love this. You have beautifully explained everything about why diversity in books matter. Heroes don’t come in packages as white, straight males. And we need more publishers that will see that.

lolitzafishy said...

When I first picked up your book, I knew that I was going to like it. To be absolutely honest, you're by far , my favorite Indian author. During the time I found Ash Mistry, i'd read the Percy Jackson books (both series) for the fourth or fifth time. I needed the next book so badly and was frustrated that I wouldn't be able to find anything that could match the standards of Rick's genius. Boy was I happy when I found your book. It holds the perfect amount of sass and sarcasm that any great fictional book needs. I hate books that only get me laughing for every hundred pages. Ash Mistry had hit right all the right chords and I couldn't stop ranting to people about how I'd found the Indian Rick Riordan. It's truly sad to hear that there are few fans of this amazing book. The incident of the ignorant bookseller certainly hits home. But the worst part is, seeing kids around my age and I know that most of the Indian crowd would not receive books like this; like the bookseller. I understand the fascination in reading a book that will be made into the next blockbuster film (I'm looking at you Two States), but it just seems bizarre. Anyway, I'm getting off track here.

I'd just like to say, Mr. Chadda, your work is brilliant and I eagerly look forward to whatever you publish in the future. Well coming to spreading the word, I have already gifted a few of my friends with the Ash Mistry book so I'm sure you have few more fans as of now.

On a totally informal note, book sellers like that are a shame to book stores everywhere.