Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I write books.
And if you’ve read my books you may have noticed that they’re kind of gay.
I mean that literally. There’s a lot of LGBT characters in my world. The main character of my Nightblade series is a bisexual girl and one of her best friends is a gay boy.
The main character of the Academy Journals is straight, but is in a relationship with a bisexual and polyamorous woman, and one of his best friends is a lesbian in a long-term but on-again-off-again relationship.
The High King is a trans woman, there’s ace characters, there’s aro characters, enbys—
But if you know me, you know I’m a cisgendered, heterosexual dude. So … WHY? Why do this?
Well, I’m a firm believer that any artist should be trying to do something new. If you’re just rehashing what other artists have done, you’re not contributing all that much.
And when I started to build my fantasy universe, I spent a lot of time studying and researching and trying to find what I could do that had rarely been done before.
What I struck on first was that there were few, if any, major tentpole fantasy series or universes that had been built on diverse representation from the ground up.
There are some exceptions, but they are exceptions. If you ask most fantasy fans what are the biggest epic fantasy series of all time, they generally won’t list the ones that are the most representative.
Now, as I’ve talked about before, I think there’s two ways you can write diverse and representative content.
You can write a story about the difficulties marginalized people face in our current society, which I didn’t feel comfortable or qualified to do.
And the other option is to just create a world in which marginalized people EXIST, and don’t face the same barriers or discrimination that they face in the real world, either because that discrimination has been overcome or because it never existed in the first place.
I chose the second option, and so Underrealm was born. But this was a decision made very early in my writing career and while I was still learning a lot about social justice issues.
And in time I realized that creating this world and populating it with these characters was not enough.
Because while it was a nice fantasy, it was just a fantasy. And I was not doing enough to effect the change I wanted to see in the real world.
I learned that diverse and representative stories are great, but they are best when they are created and told by diverse creators.
And that’s when my focus on my writing and my world changed. I realized that while I could do some good with my work, I could do a lot more good by empowering the work of others.
That’s when I decided to form a publishing company rather than continue as “just” a solo author.
And the goal of that company from the beginning was to be a platform for the voices of excellent authors who the fantasy genre has tried to ignore in the past.
We’re now working with four authors—or five, depending on how you count them, long story—who are creating their own stories in Underrealm.
And not only are they all AMAZING storytellers in their own right—trust me, I’ve read their work—but they represent a range of sexuality, gender, and disability.
We’re not quite ready for introductions yet, sorry. Kinda gotta figure out a good way to do that, if any of the authors even want to be introduced. Probably not on camera, at least not at first.
But you’re going to start seeing their stories very soon, and based on everything I’ve read so far, I think you’re absolutely going to love them.
One thing I’ve been trying to figure out since I started writing was whether the fantasy genre, or publishing in general, really needed another bearded white dude behind the keyboard.
And I think the answer to that CAN be yes—if that bearded white dude uses their societal advantage to help others who don’t have it. And I hope we see more of that from more people going forward.
That’s it for me today, Rebel. You can check out my last video on the channel right up there, or check out my Patreon right down there to see my secret weekend videos, ooh.
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you on Monday. Byyye!