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Novel (mystery / crime / thriller) with diversity and inclusion theme in an engineering setting

My name is Peter Milsom – living in Oslo with my wife Liv. I'm white male so probably look like the stereotype we want to do something about. So what am I doing on this platform?

Recently I drafted a novel (mystery / crime / thriller) together with my co-writing friend, Becky (between Liv and me in photo), who is lesbian and manages a project for homeless people in England. The three main characters in the novel are Tamsin, Jason and Monika. The first two are railway engineers and Jason is unfairly framed for causing and covering up the cause of a train crash. Tamsin, Jason's ex girlfriend, is black and Monika can't help feeling a lesbian attraction for her. The three of them work together although sometimes struggle with their relationships until they show Jason is innocent and they track down the criminal after a murder and two attempted murders. The story does have a positive ending, but it's not what the three of them suppose.

Other colleagues, all suspects for the crime, have known each other for some time so they do not comment during the story about Tamsin being a black female engineer. In any case, we have tried to construct a story where a reader can take for granted that there is already some diversity and inclusion – although hardly enough.

The question I'd like to put to the platform is would it enhance the story if others e.g. newspaper folk did comment on Tamsin, whether in a positive, neutral or negative way? My email address is milsompeter3@gmail.com.

So any thoughts &/or questions are welcome.

Best wishes, Peter

3 Replies
James Shaw
205 Posts
It has been argued that humans navigate the world using a low-resolution model, there is just too much data to process at any one time. For example if you were looking for the car keys that you left on the kitchen table those are the two items that you seek out with high-resolution, you literally don't see the spilt cornflakes in the corner or the dirty dishes in the sink.

The same applies with our dealings with people. We have our low-resolution mind-models that we refine when focused on specific people. These low-resolution models we call stereotypes and they are essential for our sanity.

When it comes to story telling the writer has enough to do just telling the story without creating a whole new mind-model. Even writers of fantasy and sci-fi know this and they stick to well-tried formats.

If a story is populated by unbelievable characters then the story is unbelievable and it fails as a story. When a story contains believable characters the reader can pretend for a moment that it isn't fiction and can, if they wish, identify with the main characters. That doesn't mean that the reader 'looks' like a character, it means that the reader sees in the character something that perhaps they aspire to. The small boy can respond to the heroism of the female SOE operative, the mother to sincerity of the good male pastor.

The idea that 'diversity' and 'inclusivity' can co-exist is just ideological dogma, it might form the basis of a good satire but not a good story.

Why do 'we' need to do something about 'the white male'? 'We' should consider ourselves fortunate that so many 'white males' have done and continue to do so much for us and to have the humility to accept that. Life isn't a 'zero-sum' game, your contribution isn't my loss, we can each do our bit and we can best do that by thinking for ourselves rather than re-cycling collectivist group-think under which diversity of thought is not allowed.

The item was intended for the IET women's platform. As an engineer I am well aware of the tremendous contribution of men such as Faraday. We don't want less male engineers but we could make the profession more attractive to women. To this end promoting an inclusive image to do something about the male-only stereotype could surely help.

 

Arran Cameron
415 Posts

James Shaw:

The idea that 'diversity' and 'inclusivity' can co-exist is just ideological dogma, it might form the basis of a good satire but not a good story.

You are right.

I have been saying for many years that white; British; social liberals / multicultural types / inclusion obsessives / diversity promoters, and ethnic minorities do not see eye to eye. They also regularly fail to understand that what applies or appeals to one ethnic group does not necessarily apply or appeal to another ethnic group.

Ethnic minorities are generally far less sympathetic to LGBT than white British people are, and commonly hold the opinion that homosexuality is a whim, or even a disease, of decadent white atheists in western nations. At the moment there is a big fuss taking place in Birmingham, and beyond, about SRE in schools with the 'No Outsiders' programme, where parents have withdrawn children from lessons because of issues relating to LGBT.

https://5pillarsuk.com/2019/03/04/birmingham-primary-school-stops-lgbtq-lessons-after-muslim-parents-protest/

There is a big question as to who exactly will read this novel. Does it exist for its storyline or is it clearly and deliberately designed for the purposes of diversity and inclusion?

It is notable that one of my favourite cartoons as a child featured ethnic minorities and (an evil minded) mixed race woman but it came across as authentic and realistic rather than tokenistic along with having a very solid storyline.

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