My Cultural Background

James Edgar Skye is a fiction writer in his current dystopian fantasy novel Rise of the Nephilim, which explores themes of good versus evil, the future, pre-apocalyptic worlds, and the hero’s journey. He was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and PTSD. His self-published memoir The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir was released in 2020.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own, and the ideas I explore are passionate to me as a writer. Any political opinions that come up are also my own. I do not exclude your point of view on anything I share. If you want to support my writing, consider my Buy Me a Coffee page.

As a speculative fiction writer, I often wonder where I fit in the world of authors and how much of my cultural background comes out in writing (or should it?) Here is my culture breakdown (in no specific order): Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, German, and Irish. Strange, I know, but I am a multicultural human being who understands where his ancestors came from and that he is American—born and raised. 

Since I was a kid, my culture has been a significant part of my life. Growing up, I was practically royalty in the local Hawaiian club that helped raise me—my grandfathers on both sides, my mom, and my biological father were the “high maka maka” (yes, I know that word means pretentious) in the group. My grandparents were royalty, and so I had many “aunts and uncles” that I grew up raising me. A side note story: I was twelve when I realized that many men and women I grew up calling my aunts and uncles were not blood-related. I never knew!

Before I could talk, I had always loved rice and kimchi, and I lived off of Filipino food my mom cooked my entire life. Whether it was Hawaiian food, Japanese food, or Filipino food, I identified as a mixed Asian-American. As I grew up, however, partly because of my mental health issues and what happened to me as a child, I became less about my culture and more about trying to find who I was. I still struggle with that epic battle (a tale for another time).

Back to where I started, as a speculative fiction writer, where does my culture fit into my writing? I have struggled with this because I am confident in my writing ability and in getting my work out there to my readers. My culture is not prevalent in the many books I have read, and often Asian culture is found in manga and some literature, but is it enough? Should I be focusing on all aspects of who I am as a human being and a writer? It is a fascinating thing. I have talked to the few Asian writers that I know. I realize that in my cultural inclusion, things are changing in the writing world, but if I am not a part of that change, do I lose pieces of myself within my writing?

While I am a novelist at heart, I have been writing some short stories (a skill I learned getting my MA). One in particular, Hayeon and the Precious Notebook, has been eye-opening in writing a culturally heavy piece that I worked hard to write about a culture I understand—being Asian—but not one listed above. It is a start, for sure. 

As always, I want to pose a question: is there enough representation of different cultures in the speculative fiction world?

James Edgar Skye

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