This may ramble a bit. I hope you’ll stick with me and maybe post your throughts on the questions at the end.
In a recent post I listed all the books I’ve written that aren’t published, or that could be republished. One of those was the horrid We the People that was written during my political awakening (which happened during the 1992 presidential election). It was during that time that I gave thought to issues like abortion and determined it was wrong, that conservation was good but environmentalism was too much, that the government was involved as Daddy in too many lives and making other people pay the bills for some folks’ laziness. That kind of thing. The book that came of that self discovery was about as subtle as a good stout club.
My new book, though, is different. It also looks at social issues, but I think it is subtle. And much more mature. While We the People was an exploration of what I believed as far as politics and social issues, Amara’s Prayer is more about religion, with some social issues mixed in. The theme of the book can really be summed up in one wonderful quote. Elbert Hubbard said: “The ineffable joy of forgiving and being forgiven forms an ecstasy that might well arouse the envy of the gods.” That’s perfect because the book deals a lot with ecstasy, “gods” (really it’s goddesses) and forgiveness.
Who will the book appeal to? If they can get past the graphic depictions of sex and death, I think most Christian readers will like it, though they’ll undoubtedly complain about my … reinterpretation … of Genesis. I was a little worried that Pagan readers might be offended because … well, to tell you why would give away a vital plot point. But a good friend who is a practicing Wiccan has read the book and she said she enjoyed it. I think she’d have told me if she was offended or thought something didn’t ring true.
Writing the book forced me to look at ideas I’d formed but never fully thought through. The minister who is the main character of the novel goes from having a belief system he was handed at birth to losing his faith in everything, to discovering a new belief system that is real to him because he had to earn it. Does that make sense? No faith is real until it’s tested, is what I’m trying to say. The character’s mental journey is similar to my own, though mine came through reading rather than ending up homeless and addicted like he does.
So, for your writers out there, how much self discovery do you do when you write?
Readers, how do you feel about writers putting social, political or religious messages in their writing?
And for everyone, what is your favorite novel with a social, political or religious theme or subtext?
I think I’ve answered the first one. For the second one, I don’t mind a message, even one I disagree with, if it’s presented well and is really wrapped up in the story, not presented at the end like a moral or where the story is secondary to the message. I like allegory like C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, but my favorite book with a social message is probably The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. That tends to surprise some people who know my political views. Or think they do. Remember, my lesbian rabid liberal co-worker says I’m a “reasonable Republican.” That’s one for the grave stone, ain’t it?