After reading drafts of my novels, several people who know me well have told me, “It’s not what I would’ve expected you to write,” or, “It’s just… really… dark.” Fair enough. It would be silly to defend myself, because I desire and value their opinions.
So I’ve pondered whether to blog about this at all. I don’t want it to sound like excuses. But the more I thought about it, the more I simply wanted to tell you all this. I want you to know this about me. Because it seems that the real me–bubbly, happy and spontaneous–is a startling counterpoint to the words I write. There are reasons why that is, but they’re simple and nice reasons.
The truth is, what I write is a reflection of me, but it has nothing to do with who I am.
My characters are not me. They’re individuals who think for themselves. As the writer of their stories, I’m merely stepping inside their heads and trying to be true to them as I put the words down.
I love to study humanity. It’s why I watch shows like Dollhouse and Lost. When a person is pushed up against the worst possible thing that can happen to them, the deepest parts of their being are brought to light. They aren’t always good things. Not always noble and pretty. But conflict and difficulty is where we learn the most about ourselves and about others.
This is why there is ugliness, coercion, betrayal, and revenge in my books. This is why things get dark sometimes. Why every protagonist doesn’t always have a pure motive.
If I knew them in person, I don’t think I could forgive most of my characters for the things they do. I am never a fan of violence. I wouldn’t go to war with Kierstaz Orion. I would rage at the racism of the Desert People and the cold skepticism of the Drei. I could never justify anyone manipulating people for their own ends the way Trzl does. But if we live on earth, we see good and bad reflected in microchosms all around us, and we wonder why people make the decisions they do.
That’s what I do when I write. I wonder. I echo. I create dark places for my characters to go so that I can learn a little more about the light they might have in them. And yes, I’ll admit it: sometimes I put the romance in there just because.