A novel idea

Next week’s post will mark the one year anniversary of this blog. When I started I hadn’t expected so many stories and issues to reflect on. It’s been a roller coaster year from an inclusion perspective and even though I’ve been posting a blog a week (Friday mornings) there has been more than one occasion where I have had multiple topics to consider. The site hasn’t quite worked out as I had originally intended but I have been buoyed by the comments shared both here and in reply to Twitter and LinkedIn posts.

However, I have been playing around with an idea for a novel for a number of years now and the blog has inspired me to finally put pen to paper and start writing. This does mean I need to find some capacity and to do so I’ll be reducing the frequency of blog posts to once a month (last Friday of the month).

I’ll not give too much away in terms of my novel idea but there is a strong inclusion thread that runs through the narrative. I intend to have a trans heroine and am keen to do some research to develop an authentic character. I would really welcome any suggestions on websites, blogs, books or even individuals to reach out to. My aim is to create a core group of relatable characters that reflect the diversity of today’s society. I’d also be grateful for any tips on literary agents who may be interested in a thriller with a diversity and inclusion lens. Finally, I’d really welcome any reflections on character identities that you feel are currently absent from novels or building on my ‘Am I the villain’ post from a couple of weeks ago any tropes you’d like to see challenged or subverted?

So why this novel? I don’t get to read as much fiction as I would like to. Any reading time I have is generally taken up by articles and books to improve my knowledge and capability for work. However, I am finally getting around to reading Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (I know!) that has been sat on my book shelf gathering dust for far too long. It is a great story in its own right but is also a novel that speaks to me on another level. I am not in any way claiming I will match her genius but I have a plot concept that flips our established understanding of a ‘particular’ narrative. I believe there is a role for stories like that to challenge the status quo and encourage us to look at the world through a different lens.

In the spirit of wanting to also share something useful with you all I’m going to share my top five inclusion books:

  1. Banaji & Greenwald ‘Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People’ This is a helpful introductory text and is the founding book behind unconscious bias testing. It is a really helpful way of challenging the reader to challenge themselves.
  2. Reni Eddo-Lodge ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ As a Black man this was a tough read but brilliant book. In a year when race has featured prominently in the headlines this book hits many nails on the head.
  3. Maitland & Steele ‘INdivisible’ A great read for any of you thinking about building an inclusion plan for your organisation. Really well structured, thoughtful and excellent hints and tips
  4. June Sarpong ‘Diversify’ The only book on the list that made me cry. When I was reading the chapter on Black men it felt like I was reading an autobiography. So much of what Sarpong describes reflected my lived experience but until I read this I hadn’t realised quite how much my racial identity had impacted on me. It was both painful to read but also a relief in some ways to see that I wasn’t alone
  5. Caroline Criado Perez ‘Invisible Women’ This book really asked me a lot of challenging personal questions and was massively eye opening. It helped me understand gender inequality much better.

Please add to the comments your reflections on great books (fiction or non-fiction) that have helped you with your inclusive practice or challenged you to think differently. I really hope you will join next week for the one year blog birthday and a reflection on Black History Month 2022. Until then #ImNotTired

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