Sorry for being absent over the weekend. It was my birthday on Saturday so I took a few days off from blogging and writing. Back to the grindstone now, though!
Ireland, for the most part, is very mono-ethnic. Sure, we have a fair number of immigrants, and people of other ethnicities than Caucasian, but we just don't have the same diversity of people seen in England or the United States. Even those immigrants we do have mostly started arriving only over the course of the last twenty years, so as a nation we're still learning how to adjust to the presence of other cultures. As a result, I've spent my life having very few friends who weren't Caucasian and born in Ireland.
I sometimes feel like this has left me at a disadvantage when it comes to my writing. I have little direct experience with other cultures aside from the time I've spent in Italy, so this can limit my comfort in protraying people from cultures outside my own. This could be one reason I enjoy setting my books in America, because we're so saturated by American culture anyway. It's more comfortable to use that setting since everyone usually knows what to expect, and examples of cultural differences there are very easy to research.
What I've also found is that I don't instincitively create characters who aren't white. Sometimes when creating a particular character, the idea might come to me use an alternative ethnicity, or I may choose to do it because it fits the story better, but often the majority of my characters are, in my head if not specified in the text, white.
I get honestly concerned that my books could turn into the Charge of the White Brigade if I'm not careful. But on the other hand, I don't want to seem like I'm adding in black, Chinese, or Jewish characters just for the sake of seeming to be diverse, and then failing to represent their cultures appropriately.
I know I'm probably worried for nothing, and particularly in fantasy I can show only the parts of a culture I'm definitely familiar with and not risk losing out on depth of character, but this is just one of those things that gets to me from time to time.
What about you? Do you find yourself with any habits regarding ethnicity or background? Do you find them a problem? Are there any other things you worry about getting right when writing? Or, does it bother you when certain ethnicities don't show up as often in fiction?