April 22, 2015

Amy McNulty, author of Nobody's Goddess, Talks Diversity in the Fantasy Genre (Plus There's a Giveaway!)

I don't know about you, but it is not often (or ever) I run across a fantasy/magical realism story featuring a woman of color.  I wanted to feature this book because DIVERSITY is important!  Author Amy McNulty has agreed to share her thoughts on diversity in the fantasy genre.

My love for the fantasy genre began long ago. Blame it on an odd summer reading assignment, one that listed the second book in a series instead of the first on the list of choices. (Said book was The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander, the second book in The Chronicles of Prydain. The mistake was likely due to the fact that this was less than ten years after the release of Disney’s The Black Cauldron.) If you wanted to read that one for the assignment, you had to read the first book (The Book of Three), and if you were anything like the captivated reader I was, you gobbled up the last three books (The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King) that summer while you were at it, too.

I was bitten by the fantasy bug that year. I even wrote a 12-page fantasy “novel” I thought was brilliant, right down to the hero named “Dwycin” and the wizard named “Googan” years before Google was founded. (I was supposed to write hundreds of pages? Pfft. I had homework and goofing off to do.) I think I thought writing fantasy meant making up a lot of strange-sounding names and including magic and sword-fighting and a quest and a king. But you know what didn’t occur to me? That the main character could be anything but a straight, white male.
Sure, there was one girl in my story, but despite being an “enchantress,” all she did was get comforted by Dwycin and act as his love interest. You’d think I’d have better perspective to write from a girl’s point of view, that I might at least want there to be more than a single token female, but then I wouldn’t feel like I was writing fantasy. That was what my (albeit) limited exposure to this genre I loved taught me as a child. Thankfully, the genre has become more diverse over time, but the most prolific mainstream entries in the genre still seem to center around mostly males and mostly white people.

Even so, I think readers and writers have been demanding change and have brought a lot of incredible fantasy books about people of color into the spotlight. Fire by Kristin Cashore, for example, features people of color, although I actually didn’t realize that until another character described them in a follow-up novel. (I wish the cover design had shown this off.) If you Google fan art from the book you’ll find a lot of people mistakenly draw the characters as white. It’s the default setting for fantasy, it seems.

There are books set in diverse fantasy cultures featuring characters of color, such as Cindy Pon’s Kingdom of Xia series, which have had covers that explicitly show off the gorgeous China-inspired kingdom she created and other more symbolic covers that don’t depict the main character clearly. Jaclyn Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass novel infamously depicted a young white woman on the first cover only to have fans who knew the character was a person of color express their outrage until the publisher debuted a new cover. Although people of color may still be in the minority when it comes to being the protagonists of fantasy novels, there are amazing books out there. I think part of the problem is covers often make it hard for people to find them.

Luckily, my publisher put my protagonist front and center for all to see. Writing fiction, particularly in a freeing genre like fantasy, means you aren’t bound by conventions. I hope that reading Nobody’s Goddess and other fantasies featuring people of color will inspire more young people to break away from the tropes of who a protagonist “should be” to tell more diverse stories.



Title: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author:  Amy McNulty

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.


Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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