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Anthony Horowitz

(22 Posts)
happyhebe Sun 21-May-17 11:01:10

Spy author Anthony Horowitz 'warned off' creating black character

I don't see the problem with this, I mean men write about women, authors write about foreign characters etc. As a reader, I do think we assume the characters we read about are like us to a certain extent but should that be because only black authors write about black characters and only white authors write about white characters.

TizzyDongue Sun 21-May-17 11:09:06

So an editor told him it's be patronising? I wonder what the ethnicity of the editor is.

I'm now trying to think of a book with a black woman as the main character and I'm struggling.

TizzyDongue Sun 21-May-17 11:09:31

It'd not it's

TizzyDongue Sun 21-May-17 11:11:40

Oh and I mean as a main character when their race isn't part of the actual story.

happyhebe Sun 21-May-17 11:19:37

Mallory Blackman books do I think, I've never read them though.

I wonder if an author would specifically point out the ethnicity of a character or if it's always just left for the reader to decide.

I wonder what the editor who advised Horowitz thinks of the Anthony Browne books.

Maudlinmaud Sun 21-May-17 11:23:42

Love Horowitz as do my kids. I cannot see the issue with him writing a black character. Blackman books do but then she is a black author, she also has white characters. This is strange.

happyhebe Sun 21-May-17 11:43:58

It's bizarre isn't it? Like you say, Blackman books have characters of both races and I can't see any reason why authors shouldn't have both.

Horowitz is a very popular author here as well, far better than the Walliams books IMO but that is a whole other thread.

happyhebe Sun 21-May-17 11:44:02

It's bizarre isn't it? Like you say, Blackman books have characters of both races and I can't see any reason why authors shouldn't have both.

Horowitz is a very popular author here as well, far better than the Walliams books IMO but that is a whole other thread.

TizzyDongue Sun 21-May-17 11:45:22

James Paterson's Alex Cross books seem to managed not to be patronising.

Mylittlestsunshine Sun 21-May-17 11:47:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Maudlinmaud Sun 21-May-17 11:51:34

Yes. And he writes or used to write the scripts for midsummer murders. What's not to like? Granny and platform 13 I think it's called are a big hit in this house. Blackmans noughts and Crosses and tell me no lies have went down well too. Walliams is a fine author but you can tell he is heavily influenced by Dahl and doesn't quite hit the mark IMHO. I just think this issue is a bit senseless, perhaps it's coming on the back of the remark he made about that actor. But to me that sounded like foot and mouth rather than intentional.

Witchend Fri 26-May-17 20:47:25

I think there's an aspect of right and wrong here.

Dd2 is missing her hand and authors generally are completely off. Usually the character is either a sympathetic disabled child who is there to show the main character's caring side (or the baddy's nasty side) or their character is all about the disability.
Her life is neither. There's times it effects her, both positively and negatively, but most of the time it's there. It makes a difference that she turns to pick it up in her right hand, or maybe she can't carry as much, or she tucks more things under her arm (chocolate biscuits were interesting when younger), but those are small things. It doesn't define her as a character or make her weak and grateful that the main character speaks to her etc.

I think when you're writing about a minority character that you are not directly experienced with, the temptation is to make it too big a part of their life. So you want to shove in all the examples you've been told by people who have experienced it. And show how unfair it is-it can become a crusade.

But making it obvious without shoving it in the reader's face is difficult. I've tried writing what dd2 would like and there's such a small line between enough mentions that the reader doesn't get a shock every time it's mentioned and think "oh that's not my view of her" and so many it's being rubbed in the face the whole time.

Going onto the other side, authors do write convincingly about things they haven't directly experienced. I don't imagine Lewis Carol ever fell down a rabbit hole, nor C S Lewis found a new world at the back of a wardrobe.
If we say we can only write about who we are, we're stilting the potential literature into only having writers types as main characters.

And I have every faith that Anthony Horowitz would manage it excellently. I assume he's never been a teenage spy? Or a Russian Assassin either? wink Or maybe he'd like to admit to these? I think we'd all agree he's created realistic characters there.
He does plentiful research into his subjects-he's not going to produce a cardboard stereotype. I'm sure he'd take advice from people who have experienced it directly and edit accordingly.

AuntieStella Fri 26-May-17 20:57:03

Ben Aaronovitch (50s) is white and of Jewish background, but I don't hear anyone making a fuss about the Peter Grant series.

Horowitz (60s, and also white and if Jewish background) is IMO simply one of the best, prolific and popular living writers. And if he writes a bad character, he should be panned for that. Not told he shouldn't even attempt it. Weed it out at the editorial stage if bad.

But given his range of writing, I find it hard to imagine that it would be bad.

whataboutbob Sun 04-Jun-17 21:45:13

Surely it's the remit of writers and all artists to be able to imagine and describe other ways of being. Must admit I haven't read the link but the premise as described above is really depressing.

Jux Mon 05-Jun-17 15:56:13

I read something a few years ago where the main character was a black or mixed race woman. She was an elite bodyguard. It was quite good, first of a series and I would have read more if ....

Possibly near-future fiction, but could have been sci-fi.

I can't remember who it was by, or any more about it than that. I enjoyed it, though I'm white and old and unfit and disabled. I don't think the author was female but didn't really care. I didn't even think of author's ethnicity, it's irrelevant if the character is believable. If the character's unbeliebable then author has more problems than ethnicity to worry about.

One book where I did feel patronised was by Brookmyre - an author I usually enjoy - when he chose a main character who was female and 60ish. It annoyed the hell out of me!

TheOriginalChatelaine Tue 06-Jun-17 08:25:04


No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander M Smith.

SerfTerf Wed 07-Jun-17 16:10:55

His own riposte was the best. Along the lines that by that logic all of his characters would have to be sixty something Jewish men living in London.

AuntieStella Thu 08-Jun-17 08:46:17

He's on BBC Breakfast. Cracking good speaker.

Acknowledges the need to avoid cultural appropriation, but firmly defends writing to a wide audience can appreciate, which includes using imagination and not seeing every sodding thing as a time for politicking.

2rebecca Fri 09-Jun-17 18:39:53

Got worried he'd died then, i hate threads without proper AIBU titles

2rebecca Fri 09-Jun-17 18:40:31

proper titles, not sure where the AIBU came from

HappyFlappy Sat 10-Jun-17 21:28:39

So does that mean that books like Black Beauty/ Peter Pan/ The Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos can only really be written by horses/ fairies/ millennia-old aliens from a distant galaxy?

<Sticks dog in front of keyboard>

TinklyLittleLaugh Tue 13-Jun-17 17:45:15

Witchend Not sure how old your DD is but Joe Abercrombie's Half a King series (definitely young adult) might suit her.

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