Author Archives: Keira Drake

A New Thing

Oh, wow, readers, I have a happy thing to tell you: the revision of THE CONTINENT is complete! This is, of course, pending editor/sensitivity reader notes, and the further revision and polishing that goes along with such things–but the main re-draft is complete. What a labor of love this has been, to take the original version and see it with new eyes, and to reimagine things in light of all the feedback I’ve received. So much has changed. Entire sections have been rewritten, and details, subtle and otherwise, throughout the book, have been rendered different. Ancestries themselves and origins–not just physical or cultural descriptions–and every other meaningful thing, have been altered.

And yet I feel that the heart of my story–a view of how privilege allows us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, and, from all sides, how a separation in culture can cause prejudice and misunderstanding–I feel this theme still exists, and powerfully, without now being clouded by erroneous and harmful representation.

I am so proud of what this book has become, so humbled by the changes that were truly necessary, and I have learned so much. I am nothing less than grateful for this experience, especially as a debut author! To have been able to hear from literally hundreds of POC with a far more extensive worldview than I myself possess, and to incorporate changes in the text that would not distract from the intended message of the story–and, most especially, that would not be harmful to anyone who might be marginalized–what an important opportunity.

I will go forward as a writer far more informed, sensitive, and thoughtful of the way fiction might represent reality. I can only ever promise to listen, and do my best, and I hope that the story of THE CONTINENT and any future books I might write will encapsulate this understanding.

Biggest hugs to you all. <3

 

 

Twitter

To all members of the book community: I had no part in what took place on Twitter this morning. I am FURIOUS with the individual who took it upon himself to a) speak on my behalf, and b) insert my name and the title of my book into a discussion that served only to fuel anger, divisiveness, and controversy. I have repeatedly asked those who know me to stay out of online discussions about the book, and, in particular, not to engage with those who are critical of THE CONTINENT. I was mortified to hear about all of this, and, at a personal level, consider Declan’s tweets to be a betrayal of the worst kind.

While I cannot control what others may say, I can communicate to you here in very clear terms that I value criticism, have listened to all feedback concerning the book, and am working to address those concerns. I remain tremendously appreciative to those in the writing community who offered constructive insight, guidance, and feedback in regard to THE CONTINENT. I feel very blessed to have such an incredible network of friends, critics, readers, and industry professionals at my side, and am so grateful to Harlequin TEEN for allowing me the opportunity to revise before publication. I see with clarity that the comparisons drawn between the fictitious peoples of the book and those of existing cultures are valid and important, and, once again, wish to communicate how sorry I am that the original version of the book reflected these and other harmful representations.

Again, I apologize to any who felt hurt, angry, or upset by either the original text of the book or by Declan’s online tirade.

Much love to you all. <3

THE CONTINENT – First Response

I am saddened by the recent controversy on Twitter pertaining to THE CONTINENT. I abhor racism, sexism, gender-ism, or discrimination in any form, and am outspoken against it, so it was with great surprise and distress that I saw the comments being made about the book. I want everyone to know that I am listening, I am learning, and I am trying to address concerns about the novel as thoughtfully and responsibly as possible.

 The Topi, one of the native peoples who inhabits the Continent, were inspired by the Uruk-Hai in Lord of the Rings. LotR is one of my favorite books, and the savage, brutal nature of the Uruk-Hai breaks my heart every time I read it, which is at least once per year. The Topi are a savage people—they are in no way inspired by or meant to represent Native Americans. Like many, I am a person of mixed nationality and race (Sicilian, Native American, French, Irish, Danish), and take great interest and pride in my ancestry.

In regard to the Aven’ei, this fictional group of people was inspired by a large number of cultures, including Asian and European peoples. The language of the Aven’ei is phonetically similar to Japanese; that is purely because as a linguist who studies four languages, I find it absolutely beautiful, musical, perfect in sound. The Aven’ei are not Japanese. Nor are they Korean, or Chinese, nor are they based on an assumption that Asian cultures are interchangeable. They are a fantasy race: brave, intense, flawed, invented. The diverse peoples of the Spire itself are widely varied. This book is a fantasy novel, not intended to represent the cultures of our world, but to express the diversity of appearance in life which is natural and beautiful.

Any likeness of the fantasy cultures in the book to actual cultures was unintentional, and was not brought to my attention by a large number of early sensitivity readers. THE CONTINENT was written with a single theme in mind: the fact that privilege allows people to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. It is not about a white savior, or one race vs. another, or any one group of people being superior to any other. Every nation, and every character in the book is flawed.

 I am truly sorry for any descriptive choices that distracted from my intended message and that hurt or offended any readers, and I want everyone to know that I am working with my publisher to address this issue; the way that this will be addressed is currently being discussed and I will provide more information when I have it.

One last note: I have heard through Twitter that some critics of the book have received threatening messages, and I am **appalled** by the very idea of such a thing. I welcome criticism and would ask that my readers and supporters treat others ONLY with respect, love, and compassion. Be good to each other, please. Love one another. If I could ask one thing of you, that’s all it would be.