Amber Foxx’s Goodbye Post: On Reading Diverse Mysteries

I realized this month that it’s time to move on, so I say goodbye with my final installment on this blog. I hope you enjoy it, and that it helps you discover some new authors.

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 I caught myself in a reading rut. I’m not the first person to have this experience, and others have addressed it already. Nonetheless,  here’s my take on the problem as a mystery reader.

What made me notice it was a book in which all the characters were white. I suppose such towns exist, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in majority-minority places. This book woke me up to the fact that almost all the authors I’d read recently were white. Most of them write a broader range of characters, but still, I want to hear from other voices. So, how did I end up buying books this way? What was I thinking?

Actually, I wasn’t thinking. Just clicking. We often get reading recommendations through algorithms. Goodreads or an online bookstore will send reminders that a favorite author has a new book, or suggest that “If you liked X, you’ll love Y.” Authors advertise on the book pages of what they perceive to be similar books. Other ads target fans of what are referred to as “comparison authors.”  It’s a system that promotes sameness, not diversity. For that, I had to exit the net of recommendations and start searching.

I liked this article from Writer’s Digest, in which writers of color discuss their experience. I agree with those who say there is an audience for their work, but publishers may not realize it.

This site is a great shopping resource: I Found This Great Book: A Home for Readers of Diverse Books. Its creator says he loves to browse bookstore and library shelves and discover new authors because of a cool cover, and he set up the directory—quite successfully, in my opinion—to give you that feeling. He gives a lot of space to indies, which I appreciated, since I love indie fiction. I wish more of those indies published wide, not exclusively on Amazon, but I still found new mysteries to read on my Nook.

Another site I used for discovery is Crime Writers of Color.

As a New Mexican, I have to recommend the Sonny Baca  books by the late Rudolfo Anaya. Most people know his classic coming of age in New Mexico story, Bless Me, Ultima, but he also wrote a series about a private investigator. These crime novels blend in much of the mysticism and cultural depth found in his better-known works.

I plan to read not only diverse American authors, but authors from other countries, other continents. African and Asian and Latin American writers. I can’t go anywhere in person during the coronavirus pandemic, but my reading can take me all over the globe into the worlds of people whose lives are not like mine.

My writing has me at home in New Mexico, of course. Working on the eighth Mae Martin mystery. And I’ll still be blogging. Follow me on https://amberfoxxmysteries.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.

Au revoir and Namaste.

Amber

8 thoughts on “Amber Foxx’s Goodbye Post: On Reading Diverse Mysteries

  1. Interesting, Amber. Here’s another view on the subject. I’ve been a long-time educator not only for Albuquerque Public Schools in all grade levels, but at the Alb. branch of the College of Santa Fe when it still existed. I traveled the USA for Houghton Mifflin Publishing to teach educators how to teach English language learners reading, writing, science, and social studies. I also taught school districts how to teach science and social studies to Spanish speaking only students. Once when teaching my high school class at Sandia HS in Albuquerque, central office sent out a form for me to fill out on my students’ ethnicity. For the life of me, that was the most difficult form I’ve ever filled out. I had to physically eyeball each student to figure out “who they had to be classified as”. What a terrible injustice. We should not make people SEE color but encourage others to embrace differences. I think our country as far a culture is heading in the wrong direction. I don’t label my characters in my books, but if you read their voices and pay attention to where they live or their last names you’ll understand these books are full of people with unique differences which I have embraced. I know I am not alone, but others are fearful of being ridiculed if they speak out. That in itself is terrible . . .embrace differences. Thank you, Amber. I’m grateful you showcased some of our wonderful New Mexico authors. Best to you and be well.

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  2. Thank you for another wonderful post, Amber. We are going to miss your posts. I grew up in an all white area, but I have all different cultures mixed in my books. I know the world is made up of many different cultures.

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  3. I’ve spent most of my adult life in majority-minority places, which is one reason my slip into such non-diverse mystery reading felt off. That’s fascinating about the circus, Heather. What a way to grow up!

    I plan to do more blogging about writing on my own blog, maybe a writing-related post on the fourth Thursday of every month, in addition to my usual posts there about life in New Mexico, mindfulness, trail running, etc.

    Enjoy book shopping.

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  4. Thanks for writing this, Amber. Born to Ringling Brothers Circus performers and ultimately working on Broadway, I am not only used to people of color and diversity but thrive on it. I didn’t know any other way of life until I moved to northern California in my early forties where it seemed everybody was white! I sought out and found wonderful people of every nationality and background which made me feel more at home. When I decided to write my Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, I made the family successful Mexican-Americans with their family friend being an African-American, also successful. That was my jumping-off point because most of my life the people I know who are “different” are bright, educated, and successful, products of parents who came to America, worked hard, and succeeded in giving their children what we think of as the American dream. I will go to the websites you’ve mentioned and thank you for including them for more diverse reading. Lastly, I will miss your blogs, Amber. Much success to you and yours!

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