Rhobin Courtright wants to know about the inclusion of current affairs in our writing, and sorry, I just can’t help the title. Her examples are:
- Do you ever include politics in your stories (why and how?)
- Do you ever address topics like discrimination or race relations?
- After your characters with or against law enforcement and do you include the current climate of anti-law enforcement in your writing
- have you incorporated gay/lesbian characters?
- how does the current economic climate feature in your books?
- have you ever included current wars in your books?
- has terrorism ever appeared in any of your stories?
- Do any of your characters address going green/global warming?
I’d need to write a book to answer this question, so I’ll select three issues: race, gay/lesbian, and climate.
The requirement for entertaining fiction is that it stirs the emotions. In addition, for it to be formidable rather than forgettable, it needs to make you think, to stay with you, to challenge, to change you in some way. This implies that, without lecturing or preaching, it needs to focus on real-life issues that matter to the reader. Then there is nonfiction, which is allowed to argue for a position.
Since 1972, I have been an environmental and humanitarian activist, because I wanted a decent future for my children. I’ve graduated from that to Professional Grandfather, but hey, the job specification is the same. So all of Rhobin’s examples, and more, are vehicles for changing the world.
Let’s look at race first. In the ancient days when I lectured on psychology to university students, this was one the areas of research I told them about. It was clear even back then that race is a sociological construct, not a biological fact. People vary in meta-multifarious ways, and a particular culture focuses on some of them to create us-them dichotomies — skin colour, eye shape, nose shape, leg length (that was one of the distinguishing features in Rwanda). Typically, the genes contributing to variation in such aspects have nothing to do with anything else.
Skin colour is simply a result of genetic selection to cope with the compromise between protection from ultraviolet light and the formation of vitamin D from sun on skin. While I could no longer find it, I used to show a slide (remember those?) of a Swedish and an African face side by side. One had blond hair and light skin. The other was dark brown with black hair. (Guess which was which!) Other than that, they could have been identical twins. And both were university graduates.
I have had wonderful friendships with people of a wide range of skin colours, and my writing reflects this. Jarro, a story in Lifting the Gloom is fictional, but based on real Australian Aboriginal friends and ex-clients. Shelly features in another story within the same anthology. She is the victim of bullying for having brown skin, and for becoming fat through using food as her antidepressant. The story also addresses another form of discrimination, but I won’t tell you what.
Nothing to do with my writing as such, but an ethnically Chinese man and I have an honorary father-son relationship.
Let’s move on to non-standard sexuality. The rule I do my best to live by is based on “Above all, do no harm.” End of story, really. The hero of my Doom Healer series puts it beautifully here.
And just for this post, just for you, I have revealed to the world COVID Angel: one of the stories intended for REAL Human Nature.
Finally, you can read two essays from Lifting the Gloom:
On trans, and
My third issue is the climate catastrophe.
Here is another brand new story from REAL Human Nature, Rescue with side benefits, which has our 6th extinction event as background.
In addition, you can read the last 1500 words of Ascending Spiral.
And you can also read a speech my 15-year-old friend Bill Sutcliffe prepared for a guest appearance at the National Press Club of Australia.
That’s all from me for now, but don’t go away. Scroll down to the comment slot, and slot in a comment please. Then see what my fellow round-robiners have to say: