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Hachette UK launches Khan’s video guide to writing cultural diversity in fiction

Vaseem Khan, author of the Malabar House historical crime novels, is to present a series of videos offering a best practise guide to writing diversity in fiction for Hachette UK’s Future Bookshelf.

The project is based on research funded by the UK Arts Council, and features advice from writers, readers, and a host of industry professionals, collated by Khan over the past 9 months. In these videos, which will be free to view, Khan will offer insights and recommendations for best practise when writers choose to write across cultural boundaries. His starting point is that all writers should have the right to write beyond their lived experience.

The videos will be released over five weeks in October and November 2021, culminating in an online event with Khan where a free-to-download PDF guide accompanying the series will be launched. At that event Khan will offer further insight into the project and answer questions raised by these often highly-charged topics.

The running order for the videos will be as follows:

Diversity in Fiction: a review of the landscape
Cultural Appreciation versus Cultural Misappropriation
Write what you know: Mining your Heritage
Write what you don’t know: Writing in the ‘forbidden zone’
Recommendations and a checklist for creating diverse characters in fiction

To be kept informed of the release schedule of the videos, the PDF, and the final launch event please register here.

Vaseem Khan commented: “These issues have never been more topical. A particularly contentious area is when authors write characters not from their own cultural identity. The fact is that writers borrow from other cultures and experiences all the time. Personally, I believe that all authors should have the right to write whatever they choose, the assumption being that most authors would wish to approach the task with rigour and empathy. There is, however, a dearth of advice on how to go about this. This project aims to provide such guidance.”

Nick Davies, chair of The Future Bookshelf, commented: “Vas’s videos offer simple, clear-headed and practical advice to writers from all backgrounds (and to editors and publishers too). It is a thoughtful and positive contribution to an important conversation which we’re delighted to support here at Hachette.”

Vaseem Khan is the author of two crime series set in India: the Baby Ganesh Agency series, and the Malabar House historical crime novels. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was a Times bestseller and has been translated into 15 languages. Midnight at Malabar House, which opens the Malabar House series, was awarded the CWA Historical Dagger 2021. In 2018, he was awarded the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award for Literature. Vaseem was born in Newham, but spent a decade working in India as a management consultant.

The Future Bookshelf forms part of Hachette UK’s Changing the Story programme and was set up in the belief that publishing should be open and accessible to all people, from all backgrounds, from all communities. They aim to demystify publishing and guide authors through the process of writing, editing, submitting and publishing, so they know what to expect and how to succeed.