I received a very interesting set of questions on Facebook from a reader who just finished reading WARRIOR OF THE WORLD. They’re such good questions that they deserve a thoughtful answer, so I decided to do that here. I hope she doesn’t mind!
…one of the things that I feel like you do extremely well is create empathy for both “sides” of a war/ disagreement/conflict. In art, as in life I see most often empathy/sympathy being created with blame/making the other side the “bad guy”, etc. You seem to…skip that part? So this is a two part question:
1. Do you find yourself able to do that within your own life? (like are you less of a blamer, more of a solution finder – I’m working so so so hard on that with my kids and am interested in the HOW of it)
2. And two, HOW do you do it, first within yourself, and then secondarily, how do you WRITE it so that I, as a reader, don’t find myself coming down overly hard on one side – how do you make the gray the overwhelming tone, rather than the black and white?
So, here are my answers, plus a few more thoughts.
- I would say that I’m more of a solution finder than a blamer. I’m an INTJ and the Thinker/Judger very much plays into a lot of how I approach life. I’m pretty good at stepping back and taking an analytical, less emotional view of a situation. I think that kind of objectivity and critical thinking is key to problem-solving. It’s not always easy – and sometimes I have to wait for the initial emotional storm to blow through before I can get to that place of greater objectivity (none of us can ever be fully free of bias) – but once I can reply the situation from their point of view, then I can get closer.
- Part of being a storyteller is being able to tell ALL sides of a story, so that’s part of how I do this, both in fiction and in real life – I look at how I’d tell the story from THEIR point of view. In life, one my mantras is “compassion and tolerance.” I don’t always *practice* this as well as I’d like to, but if someone pisses me off in traffic, for example, I try to imagine the person driving that car is one of my closest friends, who I adore, but who is a TRULY TERRIBLE driver. Or I imagine their story – they just had a big fight with their spouse, or they’re sick and feel miserable and just need to get to the store to pick up their prescription. That makes it much easier for me to forgive their behavior and move on. One of the truths of life is that everyone is struggling with something. We may not know what it is, but we can either try to find out (not always practical) or imagine what their story might be (always an option). So, I think as a writer, what I do is give you a window into the story of the people on the other side of the conflict. I suppose that, in my heart, I don’t believe in good or evil – I think everyone does what they do for what they see as very good reasons of their own. Some of those reasons have horrible consequences for other people, but they do have them. Understanding those reasons helps us to cut off their actions at the root.
Looking at the story in WARRIOR OF THE WORLD, part of what I wanted to get was the female perspective on war. I think a whole lot of war – both in real life and in fiction – tends to be driven by male aggression. It’s not across the board, but I think it’s a strong driver, particularly in this century when so many wars have been driven by political ambitions and corporations wanting to monopolize resources. The war pending in this book is about controlling scarce resources, with those on the lean end wanting to attack those with plenty. The women in the book point out that just because one arm of a society is aggressive, however, doesn’t mean that everyone in that culture feels the same. A large part of any society gets dragged along with whatever the leaders decide – and often those being dragged along are women, children, the elderly, and those unable or unwilling to be warriors, for whatever reason. I think this was maybe different in other wars. I like to imagine the women of the American Revolutionary War and Civil War were much more involved because those were conflicts that directly impacted daily living and quality of life.
Now, men often criticize women writers for focusing on what they perceive as minutiae. Naturally, however, the person who sits down at table to consume a meal has a very different perspective than the person responsible for putting three nutritious meals on that table every day. This doesn’t have to fall out along gender lines, but it often does, particularly in the last century. When you have pretty much one gender in another country fighting a war and the other back at home, then you know which one is thinking about the daily minutiae of living. So, in this story, I wanted to deliberately draw that out and have the women of the family say, “Hey, who are you raging at? Do you think the babies and eldsters want to attack you?” They’re taking that position of recognizing the other’s story.
This is something that’s important to me as a person and as a writer, which is part of why I love the trope of enemies-to-lovers. That’s part of why I put LONEN’S WAR at the top, though I also explored similar themes in THE MARK OF THE TALA. That LONEN’S WAR cover encapsulates a great deal of that theme for me – of confronting the supposedly monstrous enemy and coming to not only understand them, but to love them. That whole Sorcerous Moons series is about two warring cultures coming together in part by learning each other’s stories.
How’s that for a long answer?
Wow – today is a busy day! First off, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has partnered with Storybundle to produce the 2019 Fantasy Story bundle. Our theme is “kick-ass heroines” and there are tons – with all varieties of ass-kicking abilities – for your reading pleasure. It includes my own THE ARROWS OF THE HEART and 15 other books!
Here’s the scoop:
Welcome to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Fantasy StoryBundle of 2019! We’re pleased to be working with StoryBundle to bring you some amazing stories this year, both from bestselling authors and bright stars on the rise.
It was a real pleasure reading the submissions from SFWA members this year and, as every year, we had a rough time narrowing the selection to just a few books. We think you’ll be delighted as there is something for everyone in this great bundle.
SFWA is over 50 years old and its membership consists of professional writers and publishing professionals from around the globe. It administers the Nebula Awards each year, and so very much more. Check out the SFWA website at sfwa.org for information on genre writing, the field, and other services.
If you want to know more about other SFWA offerings, sign up for our quarterly newsletter, which features new and backlist releases from our members in the area of fiction, games, and other offerings.
Some of the highlights in this bundle are:
• The Arrows of the Heart by Jeffe Kennedy. What do you do when your boyfriend is an animal? Really. An animal.
• The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, Books 1-3 by Annie Bellet. Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer, a mostly-human woman is finally safe – if she can resist using her magic. Or can she?
• The Dragon Blood Collection, Books 1-3 by Lindsay Buroker. A dashing Pilot, a comely Sorcerous and smart mouthed Soulsword all come together in a world intent on killing them.
• Radiance by Grace Draven. A marriage between alien kingdoms – and two “spares” who find beauty in each other, and that heroism comes in many forms.
• Ashwin by Kit Rocha. Can a genetically manipulated soldier be a hero? A healer finds a way to love a man without feelings—and fight for brightness in a dark world.
• The Raven and the Reindeer by Ursula Vernon. An enthralling remix of a classic fairy tale, with a practical heroine who follows her heart to a very different ending.
The SFWA Fantasy bundle only runs for three weeks, so don’t hesitate. It’s a great deal with a ton of terrific fiction just waiting for you click the button. We had a great time reading every book in this bundle. So should you.
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
- The Twenty-Sided Sorceress – Books 1-3 by Annie Bellet
- Ashwin by Kit Rocha
- Blade & Rose by Miranda Honfleur
- Amaskan’s Blood by Raven Oak
- Genrenauts – The Complete Season One by Michael R. Underwood
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus SEVEN more!
- Radiance by Grace Draven
- The Arrows of the Heart by Jeffe Kennedy
- The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher
- Blood Dragon – Books 1-3 by Lindsay Buroker
- Al-Kabar by Lee French
- The Glass Gargoyle by Marie Andreas
- Catching Echoes – Reconstructionist Series Book 1 by Meghan Ciana Doidge
This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!
It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.
Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
- Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
- Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
- Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
- Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!
- Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.
Also, if you get my newsletter, you’ve already seen that we revealed the cover of ORIA’S ENCHANTMENT, the long-anticipated (read: took forever for me to get to it) next installment in the Sorcerous Moons series. There’s no preorders for this one, but it should go live by Monday, January 28, 2019. We’ll send a newsletter out as soon as we know at least the Amazon link is live. If you haven’t subscribed, you can here. Or just watch my social media and I’ll try to post those retailer links as I have them.
And now, for the cover, see below!
Finally, I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but maybe not here, that the Sorcerous Moons books will be translated into French! And today my French Publisher, Alter Real, revealed the cover for the translation of LONEN’S WAR, which has very neatly become LA GUERRE DE LONEN. And the cover is super cool.
Check it out below
Finally, there’s a fab giveaway that Rebel Base Books is running to celebrate the recent release of WARRIOR OF THE WORLD, the third and final book in the Chronicles of Dasnaria trilogy. It includes a fantastic bookend I’d love to have for myself. Check it out here.
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Trying to Moneyball Book Marketing: Is there One Simple Trick we’re all missing? Come on over for my take.