Diversity in Storm Sisters by Mintie Das

I am incredibly happy to bring to you today my post in the blog tour for Storm Sisters by Mintie Das. Whilst I have yet to get around to reading this book because of the pesky exams, I am still incredibly excited to read it because it’s about 5 female pirates. What else could you want? For today’s post in the blog tour, Mintie is talking about diversity in her book so without further ado, I’ll pass onto her.

I was born in India, raised in the US and grew up following my father in his UN job that took us around the world. For the most part, I could be the poster child for diversity. Since my life has been this wild, crazy global adventure filled with a cast of fantastically diverse characters, it was a given that my art would reflect my world.  So when I created my YA series, Storm Sisters, about five girl pirates sailing the high seas in the 1780s, it was imperative that my protagonist be as varied as the multicultural cast in my life.

My decision to set my pirate series in the eighteenth century was in part because of the diversity of the seas in that period. Much more than on land, where people tended not to venture very far from where they lived, the seas were the place where people from all sorts of backgrounds would converge. Often pirate ships would be manned by an international mish mash of nationalities.

However, besides wanting to be historically accurate, I was fascinated with the idea of “sisters” that came from different parts of the world. Charlie, aged seventeen is half British and half American, sixteen year old Sadie hails from the Caribbean, Liu is fourteen and Chinese while her “twin” Raquel is Spanish and finally the youngest at age eleven, Ingela is Norwegian. While the girls are a true sisterhood, they each have their own voice, which is made more distinct by their diverse heritages. Likewise, though they are vastly different from one another, they are equally as important to the story world. I think of it as a band with a rotating lead singer. That’s why each girl takes a turn narrating a book in the Storm Sisters pentalogy.

But you don’t need to have travelled the globe like I did or write an eighteenth century pirate series to know that the world has always been and continues to be rich with diversity. Yet so many stories continue to create a homogenous world where so few of us belong. For whatever reason, many publishers, movie studios, music publishers, etc. perpetuate myths that mainstream audiences won’t watch “black films” or that a brown protagonist can’t sell. Or worse, they think they’ve filled their “diversity quota” by casting a token minority. Diversity isn’t about how many different colors are in your story—it’s about giving power to different voices.

Growing up in the US during the late 1980s and 1990s, there was no one who looked like me in my favorite tv shows, movies or books. Of course I could turn to the plethora of Bollywood movies and see Indians. But what I craved was not to be a niche part of popular culture but to be mainstream. I wasn’t part of a racial minority because our skin was darker than that of the  dominant culture—we were minorities because our voices, our stories, weren’t being heard.

Diversity is integral to storytelling because without it, it robs us of authenticity. It’s essential to honoring our own truths that the stories we tell reflect the gorgeously layered, complex, multicultural world that we live in.

Diversity is definitely a topic that I’m interested in so it’s great to see it seeping into YA. I encourage you all to go pick up Storm Sisters because I’m sure you’ll love it. Also if you haven’t already, definitely go check out the other posts in the blog tour.

Storm Sisters blogtour

Storm Sisters by Mintie Das is published on 30th June by Bastei Entertainment, price £4.99 in eBook.

28801584Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel, and Ingela are five young girls traveling the Seven Seas in search of their missing families, who disappeared on the infamous Day of Destruction. The girls are in great danger from sinister foes, and have created a false identity as a fierce group of pirates. As a vengeful father threatens Liu, the girls must head into uncharted waters. But how long will their disguise keep them from harm? And is it such a good idea to join forces with a group of rebellious boys from their past?

 

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