At heart, Lucy is meant to be an act of fun. Fun for me to write, fun for you to read. Nothing too gritty or realistic, because you guys the world is pretty terrifying these days and I think we could all use a little sand to bury our heads in now and again. Or is that just me?
But even when you're doing something just for fun, you have to live up to your personal standards. In my case, that's doing the work of fighting sexism, racism, homophobia, colonialism, and all of the other nasty works of judgement we're prone to.
...It turns out a lot of that's really hard when you're writing about pirates. Pirates are familiar ground, with lots of familiar tropes. The swashbuckling and looting! Wenches! Cannibals and voodoo magic! The problem is a lot of these tropes are, erm, deeply problematic.
With The Daring Adventures, I'm trying to keep the fun familiarity of the pirate mythos. But at every step, I've been trying to identify and subvert the problematic bits. That means in many cases thinking of the most expected or common thing, working out how it's racist or otherwise kind of not cool to perpetuate, and trying to do the opposite of that.
An example: The idea of black magic coming from a voodoo witch or a shaman witch-doctor is... kind of racist, y'all. So let's make that a white person. From the least exotic, black-magicky place I can think of: Sweden!
But only having a bunch of white people is not OK, either. So let's make sure our cast is varied: Thus we have Lia Feng, the Chinese quartermaster; a tribe of pranksters based loosely on the now-extinct Carib tribe who (and this is important) have their own agenda; and many more to come.
It's hard work, because those tropes are so deep in our bones -- in my bones -- that I don't always notice when I'm just playing out the expected story. Won't be perfect; nothing ever is. I'll be missing a lot of opportunities and making a lot of mistakes.
But it's the right thing to do. And hey, it turns out that even while you're trying to do the right thing... you can still have a lot of fun! Maybe even more -- Swedish dark sorcery and townie not-really-cannibals, it turns out, are a whole lot funnier than witch doctors and totally-serious head-shrinkers. Go figure!