Thursday, August 24, 2017

Microaggression in the world of historical fiction

Cultural sensitivity training sessions have become a common cover-yer-arse trend in the workplace, infiltrating all industries. What about historical fiction? We are a bunch of passionate, sensitive, imaginative and opinionated boys and girls (and some gender fluid). What about the callousness we encounter on daily basis? As a historical novelist, I look back at my experiences, and my victimhood alert goes off. How many times have I been a victim of microagression? And I am not the only one. After talking to a few of my fellow historical novel authors, I realized that we all have been victimized and deserve retributions (or at least a free B&N gift card). More and more authors use social media to promote their works. Interviews and blurbs contain bits of their biographies that sometimes reference their ethnic heritage, marital status, religion. Any time you share something personal about yourself, you are in danger of having your work evaluated through a lens of bias. There's nothing like being told by someone who hasn't even read any of your works what you should be writing about and which topics you should avoid. Here is a list of comments I have gathered over the years. 

Wow, you speak English real good.

I certainly hope so - after twenty-five years in the US.

So why did you decide to become a writer? Don't most Russians work in IT?

For the record, I am not Russian. Russian is my first language, but I do not identify myself as Russian any more than an Indian who speaks English identifies him/herself as British. Some Russian Americans are doctors, lawyers and financial advisors. I am not good enough at math. As we say, if you can't calculate - write. If you can't write - write historical fiction.

You should write about YOUR heritage.

Thank you. I already have. Too bad you weren't paying attention. Look me up on Amazon. Seriously. Take a look at my list of titles, and you'll see that several of my novels are set in Central Europe. 

Why do you write about Irish history? You are not Irish.

Why do you write murder mysteries? You are not a murderer, I hope. But, since you asked, cultural appropriation is my guilty pleasure. 

So you write women's fiction?

I do write fiction, and I do have two X chromosomes, but my work does not fall into the women's fiction category.

So you are an immigrant author?

I am a first generation American who happens to write. I do not view the world through the prism of my immigrant experience.

You make Catholics look like douche bags in your books. Is that because you're Orthodox?

I do have antagonists who identify themselves as Catholics, but it does not make me anti-Catholic. For the record, I am Protestant. My personal beliefs do not affect my portrayal of Catholics. You find douche bags in many religions. However, if a novel is set in 15th century France or early 20th century Ireland, there is a good chance that the antagonist will be Catholic. If you insist on labels, I am a misanthrope. I hate all people equally.

Please share YOUR experiences of microaggression.


  1. I LOVE this post! Your tone bites the microaggression folks right in the tush! I have to share!

  2. I'm Black in the United States in 2017.

  3. I'm Black and Filipina in the United States in 2017.