Thursday, July 30, 2015

Literary Risk-Taking

Being a writer means that you put yourself out there bare-naked for everyone to see. You put your feelings and beliefs on display for anyone to take a shot at. Whether you write fantasy, mystery, romance, or historical fiction, you will always find those who take issue with what you say.  And this is a good thing!

Good writing should be thought-provoking. It should generate discussions and ideas. I'm sure that there were those who took issue with the themes presented in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird when it first came out. However, the novel has been a staple for high school literature students for many years, and continues to inspire those who seek a better understanding of the prejudices that still color our perceptions of the world we live in.

Writers who never take risks, who always present a safe, albeit idealist view of the world,  may find some success among those seeking escape from the imperfections of the real world. And I admit that I have enjoyed an occasional escape myself.  But the writing that stays with me...that continues to haunt my the writing that makes me think differently about the world or questions my perceptions and beliefs.

I knew that tackling the sticky topics of religion and politics during the turbulent 1960's in The Stone House Legacy was risky. Many of us who grew up and lived through the times still have vivid memories of what it was like. Our memories are colored by our personal experiences causing us to react differently to the events in retrospect. My intent was not to present the world as it was, but to show the impact of the times on characters, who like the majority of Americans, were on the fringes of the action.

Just as the country struggled to find its way during this turbulent time, the story is filled with unsavory characters with ambiguous motives and confusing politics. It's difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys.  There is, however, a simple voice of reason underlying all the confusion. It is the voice of Tessa who emerges as a glimmer of hope for the future.  

Watch for her in Book 2 of the trilogy, The Steel Canyon Legacy, as she comes into her own.