Treasure Hunt for Truths   3 comments

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

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“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” 
― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

I gave some deep thought to this subject and decided not to reveal my secrets. I do have a few. Some literary star once noted that writers are often working on issues in their own minds, which is why so many of us follow similar themes in book after book. I certainly have a few of those and you can probably discover those by reading my books across genres and seeing some similar themes. But I’m not revealing my personal secrets because … well, they are personal.

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.” 
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I do hide truths within my books that I hope readers won’t feel preached at when they discover them. Some I’m fairly overt about. Transformation Project is about a libertarian perspective on a major terrorism attack – that there is another way of dealing with terrorism besides overarching government intervention. Less overt are the ways readers see my characters dealing with challenges, trying to be consistent with their principles and showing that the more-traditional methods don’t always fail, but they certainly overwhelm the individual and the liberty we’re each meant to enjoy. Liberty is sloppy. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” 
― Joe Klaas, Twelve Steps to Happiness

Some of my characters are unapologetically Christians, but also human and real, which is a truth I like to show – that Christians are not weird or disconnected from reality — that’s just how they’ve been portrayed in the media for so long that we think that’s reality. Their faith doesn’t necessarily prevent them from negative emotions – as when the devout Jill wanted to see the USDA leader hanged in Day’s End. The man was a menace who almost cost the life of someone she loved and she was angry. A very human reaction for which she later repents.

Image result for image of seeking truth

Daermad Cycle is a high fantasy series and fantasies don’t ordinarily have libertarian themes, but since falling in love with Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, I’ve been expanding my definition of high fantasy and individual liberty and personal autonomy are working their way into the series as I work on the third book. It’s not changing the ending, but it is influencing the journey. I hope these truths work their way into readers’ consciousness in subtle, gentle and profound ways, as Sanderson’s themes of honor have affected me similarly.

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” 
― Jessamyn West

Another truth – a theme that comes up over and over in my books — is that broken people remain useful. I don’t write characters who are larger than life. Shane starts Transformation Project series with the barrel of his gun in his mouth. As a MC, he’s flawed and not guaranteed to make it to the end of the series. He is a hero, but he’s a hero that doesn’t want to be. Now writing the fifth book in the series, I see him coming to a crisis and I don’t know what’s going to happen after. I know that this broken individual is going to shatter and what happens next … you’ll have to buy the books to find out.

As I’m working on another series in an utterly different genre, I’ve found that broken people can be fun if you believe in redemption. You can use characters most people would write off in real life and show that they can climb out of the pit they’ve fallen into and drag their damaged selves into the light and show the “functional” people better ways of living. It’s all in writing believable characters.

“If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.” 
― Terry Goodkind

I think the special sauce in all of this is keeping it real and show the characters living their truths rather than narrating about them a lot. And often, I am learning as I write, that the books I have read have wriggled into my consciousness and are now embraced by my characters. Peter in “What If Wasn’t” begs his father to tell him he hates him. “Don’t lie to me, Dad. What I did was unforgivable. Don’t pretend that it isn’t. I would rather know the truth of that where I can deal with it than live a pleasant lie so that the truth can bite me on the ass when I least expect it. And, Dad, I want to believe you can love me and forgive me. I just know that’s a lie and I’m safest with the truth.”

I knew that wasn’t an original thought and so I went looking for it. I’m not a huge fan, but Abbey is a favorite author of my daughter, so I have read several of his books and apparently this line. I knew it was the source immediately when I saw it. And, no, Peter is not going to not say it because it’s “derivative”. All truth is God’s truth, even when it’s written by Edward Abbey. Peter is just going to have to have read some of his books.

“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” 
― Edward Abbey

In many ways, fiction is a comfortable delusion and I tend to avoid preaching to my readers because I don’t like it when authors do it to me — and, preachiness is all too common these days. But fiction can be used to wrap cruel truths into comfortable delusions so that readers can learn truth in a non-threatening way – if they want to. As Bradbury pointed out, not everyone will see and accept the truths we authors hide in our works.

I wonder what my fellow authors have to say on this subject.

Posted May 27, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Treasure Hunt for Truths

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  1. An interesting article. I also don’t hid personal secrets in my books but you will find my thoughts on societies, government policies and other topical issues woven in.


  2. Great post, especially the quotes. I agree with keeping it real, we all have secrets and reveal what we choose.


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