It's hard to admit, but many of us view the world through a very narrow set of cultural norms--OURS. And it's totally understandable because we've known our culture from birth. Unless we're exposed to other world views through travel, contact with people from different parts of world who live near us or in books that open our minds to different ways of looking at the world we use our standards as the RIGHT ones.
Last week in Young Adult Teen Tuesday I applauded the multi-cultural books that revealed different cultural norms and held up stereotypes scrutiny. Today I'm welcoming a writer with a new book that does exactly that. I think you'll enjoy meeting STEPHANIE JEFFERSON and learning about her book, PRINCESS KANDRAKE.
Hello Lee, thank you for this opportunity to share some of my thoughts here on your blog. When asked, I usually tell people the story of how I came to write this book in the first place.
One afternoon my 3 year-old granddaughter who loves to play dress-up came to me saying, “Nana, I want to be a princess. Where are all of the beautiful brown princesses?” She was pointing to a Disney ad at the time. It was imperative that I find a ‘beautiful brown princess’, immediately. The research began and once that was complete I started writing PRINCESS KANDAKE.
Coming up with the story wasn’t that difficult, but getting the publishing world to accept it was another thing. Once the novel was complete I had to sell it. I shopped it everywhere! I got great feedback, but no takers. This manuscript even made it to the semi-finals of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It got an outstanding review from Publishers Weekly. I was told by editors and agents alike that the writing is perfect, but…
Here were some of the controversial issues of this story:
- The main character is considered an adult at age 14. Frankly, I boosted her age for the sensitivities of western culture.
- I refused to remove the reference to the baring of breast as an indication of coming of age. This is a cultural norm.
- The fact that the main character is female and training to become a warrior is not treated as an oddity, or anything special for that culture.
- The idea that Kandake would not want to rule is not treated as an issue of immaturity.
- The historical fact that a female can rule in her own right, not because she married the king.
- The idea of a brown princess.
- The fact that a girl can do anything if she is willing to work hard enough.
WEBSITE and her BLOG.
Thanks for your wonderful post, Stephanie. I've already looked up Nubia and want to know more about the country and its people. I appreciate your opening this culture to me.