Happy to report that work on the new novel is progressing nicely. My world, if not fully formed when I began, is materializing. My protagonist is becoming a real person – her thoughts invading mine at odd times throughout the day – and I admit I am intrigued enough to be willing to share my head with her and the other cast of characters for however long it takes.
I knew that my antagonist would be of the nasty sort, such are the things of good antagonists. But a plot point emerged in my head that gave me pause. I’m in the camp that tends to cringe when I see a child’s death onscreen or in literature. I don’t live in a fantasy world where no harm ever comes to any child – but I’m glad I’m human enough that it bothers me. So, when I decided that my antagonist’s victims would be children – I pondered backing away, taking the safe route (odd that as a society, we consider the killing of adults somehow more palatable). But my good sense and my story intervened – I had to write it the way I felt it.
I had a similar moment in Monday’s Purgatory. The early setting for the novel is during the Sierra Leone civil war – and a tool of that, and arguably all wars, was rape. I am a woman who usually turns up her lip at what I perceive to be the wanton glorification of rape in movies and had vowed never to let such dribble escape through my fingertips. So imagine my surprise when during one of my writing sessions, I got to the point where I knew a rape was going to occur (for you non-writers, I’m not the outlining type, I write mostly organically, sitting at the computer and letting the story come to me un-prompted, everyday). I actually stopped writing and got up from my chair in disgust.
I talked it over with a few writerly friends and my writing muse, Eric, and decided that I had to be true to the time and to what happened during that time, but that if I had to do it, I could write the scene the way that I wanted it. Not glorifying, but not sugarcoating either. It is still one of the toughest scenes I’ve written.
So, I’ll press forward with my current WIP. The antagonist is selfish. She is willing to sacrifice people, including kids, to protect her own hide – a trait not so uncommon amongst us humans. I’ll step up to the plate. I’ll write the tough scenes and I’ll live with whatever response it evokes in my audience.