Posted by sirkeystone
The constant and consistent advise I have received has been “be controversial, it will help sales” and “follow the trends; Child Soldiers, Hunger Games, Kick Ass, Hanna, Game of Thrones…” and I believed it. It is true. What better way to make a splash than with my age-old idea of the underground slave trade, backed up by the reports of White Slavery and the Monarch Program conspiracy.
But I wonder what is the cost of being controversial? Am I going to influence someone that reads my work to do something horrible to a child because of words that I wrote? Will I desensitize the issues rather than bring them to focus?
Will my series break moral compasses?
It has been a concern all the way through writing this series thus far. So much so that it is impossible to come up with a proper log line. It has even taken me over a month to be brave enough to write this post.
My cousin, a teacher with a Ever-North Moral Compass was recently asked if one of his students, a ten year old boy, should be able to read Hunger Games. When he said no and gave his reasons based on the violence alone, the parents thanked him then went on to ask permission from another teacher who thought that getting the boy to read was more important than what he was reading. They weren’t looking for advice, they were hunting for justification.
That said, I’m hoping there will be no sixteen year olds reading my work, much less younger. I’m not an advocate of age-based anything. I think we should determine things according to our children’s maturity. Otherwise that age limit of 18 that we police, will be 25 in fifty years. You don’t think so? Fifty years ago (and less in many places) age of consent was 14. Can you imagine your 14 year old getting married? Didn’t think so. How old were your grandparents? Likely. I was seventeen. So were my parents. My grandparents were in that age range as well.
With that line of thought, my daughter was thirteen when I let her have a Hardship License so she could drive herself to school and work, she worked at my carpet store as a sales person. She bought her own brand new Pontiac Grand Prix at 14. It was a pre-owned but you get the point. She was married at seventeen and would still be in that first marriage if the ex-son-in-law had not decided that it was okay to chase every two-legged deer at the Police Academy. She married again at 19 and complains that my new son-in-law is just like me. (I don’t see that as a problem myself). My son on the other hand is 22 and only now engaged, didn’t get his drivers license until almost two months after his 16th birthday, but has other levels of maturity that he excels in as well. Age means nothing to me.
My present work deals much with the under the covers atrocities that happen. Neighbor’s Basement deals with Apryl’s sexual abuse after her mother dies, Brent and Kennedy have to deal with abusive parents, Angel is enabled by parents who are doing more damage by saying, “If that’s what you want honey.” Kimberly had to deal with the onslaught by the upper class kids pushing her around because she came from the trailer park and had to live mostly by herself because her mother worked two jobs and still lost the car, and even has to endure the same level of bullying by the bus driver, who regularly shuts the door in her face and drives off without her.
Stage’s climax is based on Renna’s kidnapping and subsequent rape, then she murders her assailant to the extreme (which has been applauded by rape victims by the way). Renna is mentored by the former groupies of the band who become the marketing strategy of the band. Most of them are from broken homes at best, most far worse, and they help her cope with her rape, to an extent.
Astronomical starts a huge series whose underlying theme in the slaves of the Magestra. Assassins, Guards, Blood Ring combatons, House Maids, Concubines, and Madames – none of which usually survive past the age of twelve for obvious reasons. The primary character for the first five books is André Chávez a thirteen year old third tier Champion who is being gunned for because of the fall of House Chávez. In order to be reinstated, he has to violate a young combaton to prove his dominance. The rules require it. The second book details his struggle with this. And he does struggle with it. André’s replacement (around book five) when he is killed in an unsanctioned event is who the entire rest of the series centers on. Rich Sabre’s struggle to cope with the load he has on him because of these truths.
Book Two of Maraude will deal with the capture of Dale Pennington’s Trio. A master selection of Lahab (Blue Guards) Laura (11), Stephanie (10), and Marion (7) are sent to escort a plane that turns out to be a shipment of illegal arms for the Mujahedin in Afghanistan in 1974. The plane (Badger Two) is shot down (yeah, Badger Down, it was that easy) and the survivors are taken to a bunker. The tables get rocky there as the girls suffer some extreme treatment at the hands of a rival Society. Including the violent death of Marion and later the Lahab who killed her.
Unshadow has a multi-generational, interracial affair in it’s sub-text. Shelby and Cassie become inseparable. Nothing happens during the flow of the story, but it is hinted that the world will grant them reprieve and they will marry when she turns 18.
SpeedBreaker deals with genetic experiments and violence with robots. The main sub-protagonist is a 13 year old girl named Kelsey Penshew who survives the wilds with her tribe by protecting themselves against the merciless robot Scavs and the ever present Shadow, controlled by the master computer Zver. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? There are scenes after the bunker incident where Kelsey’s boyfriend and his sister are attacked by hungry cannibalistic human Immunes. Food isn’t the only hunger they have.
Such is the underscore of my writing. It sounds like I have a horrible imagination. I probably do. But it’s not imagination.
Walking a mile in the other person’s moccasins…
Have you tried it? I’d like to expound on this further, but I fear this post will already be too long. So you will have to bug me for further posts if you wish me to expand on my reasoning.
The Bookstore Standard
This same cousin mentioned earlier, thought he should do some research and walked into a Barnes and Noble to look specifically at the YA and Mid-grade selections. And was horrified. He might have picked ten percent of these books on the shelves for his class, if that. But the other teachers are overjoyed “that Johnny is reading!”
So what do we do?
Do we keep writing these things that are slowly degenerating into soft core porn (or worse – example? How many kids are reading Game of Thrones anyone?) to keep people interested in reading?
What exactly is the demographic for adults to read the YA section anyway?
For me, I have been waiting on my personality to mesh with being a writer rather than a flooring installer. I can feel my health finally declining from doing flooring for the past 28 years. Now that it is finally happening I have to decide, am I writing for my audience (which is not children), myself (which can be childish), or my parents (okay not going there ;P ). and I have decided that I am shooting for my audience. I haven’t found them yet, but I will soon, and I want them to have plenty to read.
In case you are wondering, I’m not even going to start pushing my books until I have Maraude’s Fifth on the shelf, which is looking to be about the middle to late 2013.
Posted in writings
Tags: Andre Chavez, Astronomical, Badger Down, Blue Guard, Champions, child soldiers, controversial, Council of Magestra, Dale, Dale Pennington, day job, empathy, flooring, Game of Thrones, gunslinger girl, Hanna, Hunger Games, Kick Ass, kid fighters, Lahab, Magestra Slaves, Maraude, monarch program, Moral Compass, Neighbor's Basement, Renna, Social Fabric, SpeedBreaker, Stage, Taboo Subjects, unshadow, walk a mile, white slavery