There’s no arguing. I am not Latino. I am Scottish/Irish (so says Ancestry’s DNA test).
That being said, why did I choose to write a Latinx character, Alexa Hernandez, for my recent novels? Isn’t that cultural appropriation?
The first question has a long-ish answer. It begins with my wife. Although, she was my girlfriend when I began writing “Bleeding the Little Lambs.”
Rachel is from Santa Ana, CA. If you don’t know that city, it has a huge Latin American population, composed of Mexican immigrants and people of Mexican heritage. It is an amazing place.
Rachel was born here to an American/Mexican family. She grew up in the Santa Ana culture, and spent many summers with her father’s family in Mexico.
When I met her, I was immediately struck by her strength and magical personality. It seemed very natural to create a character based (broadly) on her, and merge it into what used to be called “Great Kills Believers.”
To do so, I had to get a better feel for the culture that a Latinx heroine might emerge from. During that process, I learned a lot, and loved Rachel even more. I wanted to celebrate what I’d found through Alexa Hernandez.
I think I did that.
On to the second question about cultural appropriation.
I don’t believe I did that. I consulted with Rachel constantly, and that is HER culture. I wanted Alexa to be as authentic as possible, respecting the world she came from.
Ultimately, the decision on my gringo representation of Latino culture will be judged by the reader. If nothing else, I hope that they realize that my heart is in the right place.