When I first started my second novel, Appetites, I knew it would be controversial so I shopped the idea to my immediate writing community. The feedback was exactly what I thought. Yes it was controversial, in that the main character was the source of the controversy, not the story itself. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. In fact, it is what defines my writing style. I want to push the limits. Like training for a sport, the more you push your limits the better you are, I feel it makes me a better writer. The resounding response was, “if you can somehow make us sympathize with the main character, makes us want to read more about him, people will see past his past.”
I wanted to write a story that would scare people, make them laugh and cry but ultimately to make them think. I did not want the reader to associate the main characters actions as something I, personally, would condone nor agree with.
To that end, the feedback on my initial writings indicated that I had accomplished the right balance and that in no way would I be judged by the actions of a fictional character. But, in light of recent real world events, I am shelving Appetites.
While I do appreciate that every writer puts themselves out there and by doing so, opens themselves up to a wide variety of responses, I feel that in the heat of the moment, the readers will not get past the icing and into the cake, so to speak.
I do not want to add gas to the repulsive male stereo-types that has reared its ugly head again, encompassing all men with its broad, blind brush.
The essence of Appetites was originally about the public’s perception of what is truly evil when faced with two evils. But as I wrote it, it morphed into society’s constraints and its capacity for forgiveness. But as the characters fleshed themselves out, I came to the realization that the main character’s plight was boiling down to the power struggle that is sex.
You have to understand, I loathe the stereo-typing of men as much as feminists loathe being portrayed as bra-burning, spite-filled, extremists – which, they are not. Of course there are a few exceptions, but I chose not to judge the whole based on the actions of a few. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a stereo-typical male.
So, as strong as the characters are, both male and female, and as much as I have tried to steer away from tropes and misconceptions, while staying true to real life, I fear the timing is wrong for Appetites. I’ll wait, instead, until the wounds heal a little before pushing the boundaries and making people think.
I do realize that it is fiction and I will have some readers that get it, but the backlash from the large contingent that chooses not too, may be too severe for even my thick skin.
On the bright side, it frees up more time to work on Echoes and my Christmas stories.
Also, it allows me more time to find the writers, teachers and special guests for The Author’s Voice, that you want to read about. As well, I am working on a new segment of my blog with the help of my two daughters. So look for Book Reviews for Teens and Tweens coming soon.
Let me know what you think.