Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Revising Fiction for a New World

I am revising a mystery I wrote more than ten years ago.  I put it aside because it had 'good guys and bad guys' in the U.S. and a mythical North African country, and after 9 - 11 I didn't want to issue something that could be seen as Arab bashing.  A purist might say it is important to write what you will when you will, and I certainly don't believe in even mild forms of censorship.  (Supreme Court decisions aside.)  But, I think we have responsibilities as writers, and one of mine would be not to fan flames of hate.  Not long ago I read Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which is a novel, in essence a love story, about the time in the U.S. when Japanese Americans were forced into camps (World War II).   Not German Americans, of course, who "looked like us."  The author portrays a shameful period in U.S. history, but in such a way that we see all sides without empathizing with the decision to inter our fellow citizens.  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is beautiful literary fiction, Toxic Traces is a mystery about using water as a weapon, with nothing 'literary' about it.  I am comfortable that I can have characters from two cultures without presenting one as evil.  It's the individual characters who do bad things.  In revising Toxic Traces, I may make a few changes to accommodate the world of today, but I believe I can be comfortable releasing it later this year.  So, on to in depth editing.

And what does this photo have to do with Toxic Traces?  I took it in Colorado in the early 1990s, when I was in the early stages of creating the book. That trip, and its conversations with Uncle Dick about water in the west, helped shape the setting.  Now are you intrigued?

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