Since announcing the novel last month, I’ve begun to go in depth about what to expect from it and about some of the various components that make up the story as a whole. However, one thing that I have been a little vague on is what I mean when I say that the story is set in an optimistic future. Well, when it comes down to it, it’s a future where everything around – from laws to the education system, from the culture to the technology – is improved from how they are currently. That’s not to say that it’s not without its fair share of flaws, as the story will show with time, but I wrote it in a way where life in this future is definitely a desirable one.
To get down to specifics in regards to the culture, there’s a particularly striking difference in the population, compared to what it is now. It’s a difference that I strongly believe many people of the mixed race community can easily predict seeing happen someday. In the future An Absolute Mind is set in, 25% of the population in the United States identify as mixed race.
There’s a reason why I did this. I notice how in novels where the time era is set somewhere in the future, such as young adult dystopian novels like “The Hunger Games” and “Ready Player One,” there has been little effort made to diversify the futures they’re set in, despite the fact that populations are changing all the time. By making the population the era the story is set in 25% mixed race, I found it a way of reflecting what could likely happen, based on what is currently happening all the time; and that is that more and more mixed race people are coming into existence.
The reason why I chose 25% as the designated percentage is that I felt that that number is both a realistic yet optimistic look at how the population could look. When I was planning out the novel prior to writing it, I was going through different percentages of just how many people could be mixed race in 50 years. Originally it was 100%, then it went down to 80%, followed by 50%, before finally settling at 25%. In some ways, it may seem like a low number, but compared the percentage of people who identified as mixed race on the 2010 census, it’s actually quite large. While I’m sure we’re going to get to a point where we as a society will be so mixed, we won’t even refer to each other as mixed race people, based on current societal circumstances, I do not see that happening in 50 years.
With this decision, it’s only right that a number of my characters are mixed race, including the protagonist, Sonya. What’s interesting about her is that she’s not a first generation mixed person. In other words, she doesn’t have parents who are monoracial. Quite the contrary, it’s made clearly early on in the story that both her parents are mixed race too. In the books that I’ve read where the protagonist is a mixed race character, more often than not, one of their parents is one race while the other is of another race. By not making Sonya a first generation mixed person, this is a way of acknowledging people like me who are not the first in their families to be mixed race, and therefore may deal with similar yet slightly different experiences than those who are first generation mixed. This especially goes hand in hand with Sonya’s friendship with her roommate, Coretta. Despite the two women being friends, there are a number of polarities between them, and one of them is that Coretta is a first generation mixed person (which is briefly explored early on in the book).
Despite race being a subject of discussion throughout various points in the novel, it’s not the story’s primary focus. It’s not talked about in the way we talk about it now; where there are those who pretend to walk colorblind and there are others who are urging the former to open their eyes. While there are some people even in this future who’re freaking out over the growing mixed race population, it’s become much more normalized than it is in the present day. It’s accepted as a reality to roll with going forward and quickly becomes a backdrop in the hefty hero’s journey that Sonya goes on.
Setting An Absolute Mind in the future was a fun experiment for me as a writer, especially when imagining how the population may look by then. While there were a couple of mixed race characters in my debut novel “A Moment’s Worth,” I knew that this time around, I wanted to kick it up a notch. The constantly growing mixed race population is a reality that is slowly but surely happening in our country, and this was the perfect opportunity to imagine how that could look decades from now and how that shapes who my characters are. I hope that when readers read this novel, this approach to this fictionalized era makes this world that much more believable.