I found myself in a number of conversations at WorldCon where persons were seeking my advice or thoughts on their writing, or seeking advice of a group in which I sat, and would say some variation on:
“People seem to have a problem with me calling it Warrior Wanda the Space Slut. But I mean slut in a positive or ironic way, because she is a powerful woman so she can have sex with whoever she likes.”
“I have a pretty graphic rape scene in my novel, but if I didn’t have it she wouldn’t have that motivation to get stronger from it and learn to fight that is so important in my story.”
These persons were clearly seeking someone to say, yes, that is okay.
And I engaged in these conversations in a calm, friendly, positive way.
Because I have the privilege to do so.
By this, I do not mean the honor, though really it is an honor to be asked my opinion on anything. Rather, I mean that had such questions been asked of someone who identifies as female, for example, such questions would have been understandably offensive and anger-inducing, and made the person feel unsafe, along with a host of other reactions.
I’m not saying I found the questions pleasant and encouraging, but I recognize that my con experience as a cis white male who presents as het is entirely different from that of anyone who is other than that.
So while I cringed internally, I did not walk away, or mock these persons then, or later with my friends. I gave them a clear but disgust-free expression of “Oooooo, I wouldn’t do that,” and proceeded to lay out in positive terms how they could improve their stories, and their chances of reaching a broader audience.
Here is an example of the types of thing I try to say in these cases, with the goal not being to score points or put him in his place, but to help guide the writer in the right direction where they will hopefully learn for themselves in time what cannot be forced into their understanding in a single argument (And to be clear, I am not in any way saying there are not other approaches, or that outright anger is in any way not a valid response for others to have):
I feel like one more post on Orlando is just noise right now. Yet I also feel silence is unacceptable. So, in short:
First, it is not any one problem, it is multiple problems. And the solutions are complex and many. Here’s an admittedly simplistic and limited list:
Yes, it is the problem of fundamentalist extremists who believe violence is a divinely blessed action (which we have in every religion). Solution: Religion isn’t going anywhere for a while, so as long as it is here, support moderate voices in all religions and ideologies, and don’t arbitrarily punish those who believe in the same version of deity as this week’s terrorist yet don’t share the same belief in violence. Embrace the messages of love and peace, and leave the outdated bigotry and fears (and rivalries) of the Iron Age tribes behind.
Yes, it is an issue of bigotry and hatred. Solution: do not shame people for being different (which only leads to self-shame), and do not support the insidious belief that some deity has deemed their very nature a sin, be that nature their sex, orientation, or race. Know that someone being different than you does not take anything away from you. Diversity is strength. And if you know someone who is not a cis-gendered heterosexual, reach out and let them know you care about them. Events like this are a scary reminder of the hate and violence that can strike them at any time just for being who they are.
Yes, it is an issue of uncontrolled gun sales. Solution: Let the government study the disease of gun violence, to determine and vote into law effective safety rules and regulations the same as we have for cars, for planes, for alcohol, for anything else that may be dangerous if abused. We can regulate gun sales and license owners without violating the 2nd Amendment.
Yes, it is an issue of mental health. Solution: greater support of mental health facilities, greater support of mental health services by insurance providers and government health programs, and less stigmatization so that people aren’t afraid to seek help.
And Yes, it is a problem of broken politics. Solution: Force States to rewrite voting district lines fairly, and push for campaign finance reform, so that the vast majority of Congress are not safely GOP or Dem seats sponsored by special interest groups and wealthy donors, where the members only have to worry about pandering to the most extreme in their party to keep their seat rather than actually being accountable to a widely representative group of voters.
Here’s some folks you can send your thoughts to or support besides the echo chamber on Facebook:
Volunteermatch where you can find general volunteer opportunities
Want to know how to get published? Well, there’s lots of ways, actually
And writer/ editor Shannon Page has put together a pretty neat collection of essays called The Usual Path to Publication by 27 published authors (including yours truly) on HOW they got published. Check it out!
And for some additional fact-dense and flow-charty info on publishing options, you can also see my post on How to Become a Novelist (Part 2): Publish a Novel
Two big bits of news for book 3, Smells Like Finn Spirit:
First off, revised Finn 3 has been officially delivered to my editor! And I am so proud of it. Of course, I’m biased, but honestly there are just so many parts I can’t wait for people to read — funny moments, emotional moments, fantastical moments, moments that made me tear up or laugh on my own re-read — and I think that’s a pretty good sign. It has more of the humor of Finn Fancy Necromancy, and expands on the world building of Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free, with some deep character moments I think reflect all I’ve learned as a writer while working on these books, and it completes a nice three book arc (with seeds for future books of course should Tor buy more). Not trying to sound braggy, or like I think so much of my skill or anything, I just am proud of what I created, and feeling pretty happy about being a writer right now.
And second, COVER REVEAL! Thanks to the awesome Peter Lutjen!
Hey awesome peoples, I have a teensy favor to ask, and PRIZES to offer: if you have read Bigfootloose (or enough to have formed an opinion), pretty please leave a review.
Just one click on a link below and another click on some stars, then write a sentence or two about how it transformed your life and healed your chronic inability to speak Sasquatchese — or, you know, whatever you want. Bing bang BOOM! Taking a minute to leave a review is the best way you can help get Bigfootloose into the hands of folks who might enjoy it (or any book you read, for that matter).
Links to Review Sites:
Powell’s (who also offers their own contest for people who leave comments! Bonus!)
iTunes (select “Launch in Application” at top of page)
I see two major conversation streams in my world converging here: Diversity in fiction, and our current political circus.
Diversity in fiction is about many things, but one of those is that it allows us to experience lives unlike our own, and through that experience gain a deeper understanding of people who are different from ourselves, and the ability to empathize with other experiences. This applies across all media.
Perhaps if we had more popular media that shared an honest view of the Mexican immigrant experience, for example, we might not have a demagogue winning votes by promising to build a giant wall and kick people out of the country, or playing on other racial and religious fears.
Not saying diversity in fiction is THE solution to any problem, but this is just one example of why I feel diversity in media is actually important not just for any specific group who see themselves continuously ignored or badly stereotyped in media, not just for those who are marginalized or persecuted in society, but for everyone. Because we are all in this together — at least until we find a way to teleport to our own planet where we can mess it up however we want without affecting others.
Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free comes out February 16th. This is a really critical and exciting time for the series! I hope you’ll join in the fun.
“So, this is your apartment? Nice. Where can I slip into something more comfortable?”
“Right over there, in the door past that copy of Finn Fancy Necromancy. Oh my gosh, have you read it? It’s REALLY exciting and funny an — uh, like you. I’ll get the wine.”
Why do I give this fine example of Finn Fancy love? Well, if you think it might be cool for the series to continue past book 3, continue reading.
The Finn Fancy series is not in trouble, but it has reached its first critical test. Whether or not Tor wants to publish more Finn Fancy books will likely be based on sales of book 1 and pre-sales/ sales of book 2 (Bigfootloose) over the next couple of weeks. Just because that’s how the industry works.
What this is: Me asking you to take a few minutes to support Finn Fancy if you’ve read and enjoyed it, OR if dark and quirky contemporary fantasy is something that interests you and you MIGHT read it someday. Or if you are just feeling generous toward me and want to support my dream, I suppose.
So if you DO want to help guarantee more Finn Fancy books, here’s what you can do, in rough order from most impact to least. I’ve tried to make it easy:
I think this counts as my first fan art! Heather Seevers of NW Handspun Yarns knitted a Finn Fancy gnome hat! And she created a pattern so you can do the same!
Here’s the knitting pattern:
I know that Heather’s also working with some folks on a new line of yarn specifically dyed in geek-friendly colors, like Police Box Blue, or based off of comic book colors, etcetera, so if you knit, keep a lookout for those!
There’s definitely some special knitting that goes on in Bigfootloose. So I would LOVE for others to knit gnome hats and send me pictures of them. Or, if you want to get crazy, you could knit a Bigfoot I suppose. But they probably don’t look as nice on your head.Originally posted at my Mirror Blog at: http://www.randy-henderson.com/2016/02/f