This month we are asked this question for our Round Robin Blog Hop
Have you ever included current social, political, or environmental problems in any of your stories or thought about doing so? Why or why not? Such as:
- Do you ever include politics in your stories (why and how?)
- Do you ever address topics like discrimination or race relations?
- Are 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?
Wow! As one of our Round Robin bloggers commented, that’s a whole book itself, not just a blog post. But….. The answer for me is yes to some of them, no to controversial anything.
In The Candidate, which I tell people is NOT about politics, political issues are brought up and debated (as in my characters debate the issues) because it is the story of one man, running for president in a close three-way race who is faced with a personal crisis in the midst of that campaign. But the other two candidates also have a deep dark secret that, should it become known, would determine the caliber of the man, possibly change the outcome of the election and change the fate of the nation. And all three of those issues are on this list above. (Not telling you which because I’d love for you to read the book and I don’t want to spoil the secrets.) But it’s still one man’s story and I have chosen not to make the issues the focus of the book.
Several of my stories involve men or women who have been to war and while the story is about their personal challenges, the effects of those wars and how our country perceived them is critical. When I pitched Worry Stone to an editor she loved the story but wanted me to change the war. Unfortunately, that editor was too young to know how awfully our country treated her warriors when they came home from Vietnam. She wanted me to change the war, but that would have changed the whole book. That hero came home, so thankful to be back in America, eager to put the war behind him and get on with his life, but the student body at the college he chose to attend had other ideas about how he should be treated. He also struggled with the guilt and despair that many soldiers experience in any war. But that war and the hateful things Americans who were opposed to it did to the returning soldiers was critical to that story.
For me personally, race, religion, culture have never been an issue. I love people for who they are and their color or faith or where they came from has never made a difference. As an author, I have included all kinds of people and I hope treated them all fairly, without discrimination. However, I have not dealt with the social issues that come with race, religion or ethnicity.
Two of my Tide’s Way books feature a police officer as a main character and the heroine of my mystery is a Deputy Detective here in St Augustine Florida, so my portrayal of law enforcement officers has been entirely positive. Mostly because I personally am a strong supporter of law enforcement. Never mind the time I was pulled over by a baby-cheeked officer in New Hampshire for turning into a private establishment in order to turn around, which he termed as doing so to avoid a traffic directive – NO U TURNs. Or the time a cop pulled me over for supposedly turning right on red without stopping after I’d actually turned left after waiting for all the oncoming traffic to pass. He asked me where I was coming from, realized his error and apologized – must have been a different white car. Everyone makes mistakes so I’m okay with that. I’m just thankful there are men and women willing to put themselves between me and danger, and since I consider them heroes and heroines, I enjoy having them be my main characters some of the time.
I am sick and tired of having the WOKE generation shoving stuff down my throat that either I don’t and never will believe is right, or that I think they haven’t completely thought through so I will never write of those issues, even though I will include characters that fit into those issues. Like anyone else, I have strong political and social views, but I don’t need to alienate half my readers by using my writing platform to push issues that they find offensive. Not naming names, but I once read ALL of a very prolific writer’s books and couldn’t wait for the next. She included characters who were part of a social world I don’t support, but they were well written characters I could like and enjoy having around. And they are a part of the world we live in. As a long-time friend (and Episcopal Priest) once said, “You can object to the sin, but still love the sinner.” I try to live my life that way and I write with that in mind. But this particular author decided to use her best-selling platform to start pushing a political/social agenda I simply could not accept. So I stopped reading her books. I don't want that kind of writing to be my legacy. As a writer of fiction, I have a choice. Do I just tell a great story that anyone can enjoy? Or do I choose to make a political statement that will piss some people off? I chose the former.
But perhaps some of my blog hoppers have a different take on the issue so hop on over and check them out.
Dr. Bob Rich