November 22, 2019

The Importance of Diversity in Fiction / Guest Post by Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Today I am hosting Ronel Janse van Vuuren. She is talking about a very important topic. Welcome, Ronel!


I read a meme a while back that said something in the line of: if you are going to walk in someone else’s shoes, better get far away before they notice the theft.

The conversation about diversity is easy: when someone talks about being marginalised for some reason, you simply switch topics by saying you are feeling uncomfortable. Like avoiding your discomfort is more important than acknowledging someone else’s Truth.

But even if you push past your comfort zone in reality and fiction, do you have true empathy? And what does that mean? Writing about uncomfortable truths? Having a diverse cast of characters in your novel?

And we should never get complacent. Especially in our writing. Or we might end up like Thoreau…

“Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

– Walden, Thoreau

Sounds good, right? Sounds like it will change the world, right? Pft! True empathy doesn’t come from knowing exactly how something feels for someone else: it’s messy, painful, and hard.

“…autobiography is irresistible… Even in actual life egotism is not without its attractions.” 
– The Critic as Artist, Oscar Wilde

Walking in someone else’s shoes will lead to calluses, athlete’s foot, and criminal prosecution. Not to mention a mental breakdown. It’s the fine line between empathy and appropriation.

But stories…! When we read, we can understand in our unique, flawed ways the experience of another person. No two people get the same thing out of a story – everyone gets touched by a different aspect.

And when we write and share our stories, we help others grow. Empathy is messy, painful and hard. It’s uncomfortable. So, too, is sharing our Truth. But that is where the true miracle Thoreau was seeking lies: making the world a better, more empathic place one story at a time.

Writing Magic at Midnight wasn’t easy. Sure, I had loads of fun with most of it. But writing about Amy’s identity… I got pushed past my comfort zone. What do I know about being bisexual? I tried – and thankfully failed – to change the romance elements in the book. To get it right, I read. A lot. And came to understand Amy.
Stories CAN change your worldview.

Stories CAN make the world a better, kinder place for all.




Amy has only known one life. Now she needs to put it all on the line to save what is precious to her. Can this simple farm girl survive court-life? Can she stop a war from burning down her world? And what of the mysterious princess of Hazel Wood and her covert glances…? Not to mention the prince of Acacia Wood who might or might not be involved with the prophecies ruling their kingdoms. With mysteries and secrets threatening the life she longs to return to, can she separate her feelings from the mission?


About the Author:

Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase from major online retailers.

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Connect with Ronel online

Ronel the Mythmaker, Website of Dark Fantasy Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren: 

Please leave a comment for Ronel!


  1. Great post and info. A very enjoyable story.

  2. We need diversity everywhere. One story at a time, I suppose.

  3. Getting out of comfort zone often pushes us to do better than we imagined.

  4. your opening put a smile on my face. i LOVE that gorgeous cover...and unicorns, oh my...
    sherry @ fundinmental

  5. I think you cured me from using that cliche, “Try walking in someone else’s shoes”. Of course, most other people’s shoes are too small for me.

  6. Great post. "It’s the fine line between empathy and appropriation," sums it up.