Monday, March 5, 2012


I want to welcome back Blakely Chorpenning, author of FRAYED: A Madison Lark Novella. The idea of  Sharing Our Voices came to me after having a conversation with Blakely about her inspiration for the multi-cultural cast of characters in her novella (check out her earlier post).

Blakely's post articulates the reason why many writers feel uncomfortable, or are afraid, of writing from a perspective foreign to their own. I believe by taking on this challenge, we grow as authors while celebrating diverse cultural experiences, especially in YA. This is a topic I love to explore, and ya'll know how much the anthropologist in me loves learning about other cultures, even when they're supernatural.

So, please welcome Blakely as she tells you in her own words what inspires her.

Thank you for having me back, Angie! You taunted me with such an irresistible topic. I was like a little kid drawn to a pack of pixie sticks. But honestly, you had me at “Howdy”.

So, cultural and environmental influences. Those two words are filled with entire worlds. And they’re pertinent to every piece of writing. I don’t think a story can reach that level of “meaningful” once cultural or environmental factors are drained or you lose a huge piece of heart from your writing.

It’s taken a while for me to get to a point in my writing where I don’t guard those influences like I once did. When I was younger, I was scared that branching away from my immediate experiences might offend someone else. And I always played by the golden rule: “Write what you know.” I love this rule. It keeps me honest. But I’ve also reached a point in my life where –after blatantly breaking this rule- I’ve realized that I was taking it too literal to begin with.

“Write what you know.”

I don’t know what it’s like to walk through an American mall wearing a burka. To have people stare at me and think they already know everything worth knowing about me –fearing me- without taking the time to even find out my name.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a Hispanic woman struggling through a new language and culture. To have to rely on my child for something as simple as checking out at the grocery store. To not let those whispers or rude comments affect my confidence as a person worthy of much more.

I don’t know what it was like to be an African American woman in the South sixty years ago. Twenty years ago. One year ago. Yesterday. I can read about them, and I have, and I sympathize. But I will never truly know the personal cost it takes to insure that my family thrives in an environment that wants everything but.
So what do I know?

I know from personal experience that racism and biasness are serious issues. While I didn’t mind being “That White Girl” on the bus in tenth grade, I have minded the biased attitudes that infringe on me as a person, that only see the color of my skin or my gender. They don’t see my multi-cultural family members. They don’t see that drop of Cherokee in my cheekbones. They don’t see that I am capable of defending myself. They don’t see that these things do not define me. They don’t see that there’s nothing wrong with the color of my skin or my gender or anything else. They don’t see…me.
“Write what you know.”
This is what I know.

I want to speak up and tell my family as well as others that their multi-racial, multi-cultural backgrounds are beautiful. I want to tell everyone with a single racial or cultural background that they are no more and no less for it. They are beautiful as well. I want to tell all the little girls (mostly the ones found in the hearts of women) that everything is possible, and that someone recognizes the cost you pay, no matter your background. And mostly, I suppose, I want tell the generations to come that mistakes will be made, huge and miniscule, horrendous and precious, and you don’t always get to choose. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t choose to make a difference. 
None of this could be accomplished if I didn’t embrace cultural and environmental influences. I want everyone to relate to my characters and, in return, realize that they are relating to each other.

That’s why I broke the rule.     

That’s why I don’t look back. 
If you would like to discover more about 'Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella', please visit for reviews and vendor links. Also, check my site often for news regarding 'Souled Out', my "new adult" novel due in April.

For more antics, you can also find me here:

and Twitter as bchorpenning


  1. Thank you for coming on Blakely. This is a wonderful post.

  2. Thank you, Angie! I'm honored to be a part of 'Sharing Our Voices'. Obviously, I love using mine. Ha ha. I tend to get very passionate and serious about important topics, but my everyday approach is comedy and patience. I'd rather laugh with someone than argue over differences.


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