Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thank You Letter

Note to readers: I wrote a thank you letter to Mira Grant, author of the Newflesh trilogy. We always yell at the people who describe our lives incorrectly. I say it's time to praise the people who got it right! So here's to the awesome, stereotype smashing Mira Grant. Buy her books!

Dear Ms. Grant,

I’m a writer, too, and would like to congratulate you on the amazing Newsflesh Trilogy. First off, please be aware that I don’t normally read zombie tales. I am lucky enough to have found Feed during a search of my library’s audiobook section. I must admit I only picked it up because it was the only thing that looked interesting.

Five minutes after listening to the spunky Georgia, however, I was hooked. I listened to the entire 15 hour, 10 minute book over the course of 3 days. I think I plowed through Deadline just as quickly. I read Countdown, in its entirety, the same day I downloaded it from I will buy Blackout the day it hits bookstores.

I found the story line original and well-written (not typical of either zombie novels or post-apocalyptic fiction I’ve found). That is not why I’ve chosen to write you today. Being a bisexual, woman of color in a wheelchair, I must complement you on your characterizations of people of color (POC), women, people with disabilities (PWD), and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

In modern fiction, POC are frequently cast as terrorists or lazy deadbeats. Not journalists like Mahir, Alaric, and Maggie. Not successful business people like the Gracias. Certainly not heroes like Dr. Kiran Patel.

In today’s books, women are too frequently damsels in distress or simply vapid. Not independent, self-sufficient, or strong. Not like Georgia, Maggie, or Rebecca. Not that your characters make no mistakes. Indeed they do, but they apologize and try to correct them. Look at Buffy and Kelly. They made huge errors and died because they tried to fix them. But your women are also not unfeeling, which is another stereotype. Georgia loves people. Not a lot of people, but definitely Sean and Buffy. Rebecca obviously loves Sean, even if he doesn’t get it for the longest time. Maggie loves tons of people.

When PWD appear at all in reading material today, which is infrequent at best, they are all too often portrayed as pathetic and helpless. Georgia, who uses the Americans with Disabilities Act to get accommodations for her visual impairment, is as far from pitiful as one can get. Dr. Kiran Patel is a full on hero who uses the devices designed to handle his impairment to literally save the human race from annihilation.

In current literature, LGBT people are perverts, pedophiles, or liars. In the world of Newsflesh, however, they are just like everyone else. I suspect that Buffy and Maggie had a love affair at some point because Maggie says, “You know, it seems like every time I wind up with a real tragic love story to tell, I can’t post it. It wouldn’t have been fair to Buffy, and now it wouldn’t be fair to Dave.” John and Alexander Kellis were so cute and normal it was touching. They acted like every other married couple I know. Their sexual orientation is simply an aside.

In closing, I would like to thank you for writing a series of books that attack so many stereotypes. I would especially like to think you for doing it while still managing to tell a good story. In the future, I hope many other authors will follow suit.

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