I'm a brand new member who would really love perspective from as many people as possible on something I'm struggling with.

I've always wanted to be a published novelist, and I've just completed the first draft of a novel. It was the story I wanted to write at the moment, but I didn't really think deeply about it during the writing process--I just wrote what was in my head. Now I'm having second thoughts about whether it's something I should polish for publication or not.

The story is set in a fantasy version of the colonial Caribbean and it's about the lead up to a slave uprising on a colonized island. One of the three main characters is white, but the other two are a free woman of color and a teenage slave girl and the vast majority of the supporting characters are either black maroons or black slaves. If I stick with this project, I intend to write a second book, in which the main characters are a slave who survived the Middle Passage and is fighting for his freedom, an indigenous lady pirate, and probably a woman who was raised in a maroon community. The story is definitely influenced by my fascination with the Haitian revolution, but it is absolutely not a fantasy version of the Haitian revolution. Still, the colonial/slave trade setting of the book is directly based on how it functioned in reality, and that would be immediately obvious to anyone reading it. This is a world with a certain amount of magic, but it is inspired by a world in which real people were horribly oppressed and murdered.

I researched a lot for this book. I'm going to do still more research and I am definitely going to ask a few of my more knowledgeable black friends to read it to make sure I haven't majorly messed anything up (and pay them for their time). I am totally open to all kinds of constructive criticisms and "Wow, you really screwed that up," and the work it takes to fix things. It's a serious book about serious themes, and I don't feel like I have in any way treated slavery in the colonial Americas lightly or for the benefit of a white character.

However, I am still a white woman, and I'm not sure it's really a good idea to pursue publication of a fantasy book with a background of chattel slavery.

I'm not one of those people who thinks you should only write about people who are like you. I think that sensitivity and research are super important, but I am all for people writing about those who belong to different demographics if they do it with compassion and humility. However, I somehow feel it's different in a fantasy novel? Even if I'm grappling with some heavy themes? Is it just insensitive/in bad taste?

I have also read a lot about backlash against YA fantasy writers who aren't deemed sensitive enough (some of that criticism seems legitimate but some of it just seems like straight-up bullying, and the whole thing makes me nervous). My book is an adult fantasy, not a YA one, but I'm trying to figure out if the reading environment right now is one where it's just not wise to try to publish a fantasy novel written by a white woman about the enslavement of black people.

It's a first draft, so it's terrible now, but I think I could really turn it into something good. But I don't want to put the time and effort into all that rewriting if ultimately it's not something that is going to be/should be published. I'd rather focus on a different project that is more publishable. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt someone through what I write.