Let’s get something straight …

I’ve had something on my mind for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been a little unsure as to how to even address it or hell, even if I should.

That should probably be my first indication that I should just stop right now, shut the laptop, and forget all about it. But apparently my give a damn is broken today.

You see, someone recently took to social media to call out one single line in a book of mine that they felt was “really racist.” Of the thousands of readers who have devoured this book, it was the first time anyone had called that out since the title’s release so it kind of took me by surprise, especially since my sensitivity readers who read prior to release did not feel it would cause a stir. Yes, I have beta readers that specifically dissect components that could possibly be misinterpreted for this exact reason. And if you don’t have someone doing a sensitivity read, I highly recommend it!

So what did I say? It was a quote from my protagonist referencing a character from one of my favorite 80’s movies (those of you who have read my stuff know that all of my books include a wink to an 80’s movie in some capacity … it’s kinda my thing). So anyway … I reference this character’s name in a character quote and then months later, it’s taken out of context.

john travolta GIF-downsized

I stand by my character. And I stand by the line.

I’ll be the first person to admit that everyone is entitled to their feelings. We own our own emotions and interpretations. And at the end of the day we have to answer to our own thoughts before anyone else’s.

But this line is in no way, shape, or form intended to come off as racist or serve as a direct reflection of my personal beliefs. So naturally I feel like shit that it’s been taken out of context and reflected back onto me.

In light of all this, I’d like to take a moment to simply get one thing straight …

  • If a character in a book says something misogynistic … that does not make the author a misogynist.
  • If a character does something illegal … that does not mean the author is plotting to take similar illegal action.
  • If a character has a drug problem or is a sex addict or is an alcoholic … that does not mean the author has any of those illnesses.
  • And, God forbid, a character in a book says or does something that could be considered to be even subtly racist (either on purpose or not)… does not mean that the author is racist.

-downsized

Sigh. It’s frustrating that I even feel the need to post this. So please, keep the distinction between an author and their characters in mind while reading. If every character I ever penned was a direct reflection of me, my books would be pretty freakin’ boring. But I pride myself on a variety of characters … and that, to me, is what is so much fun about writing books.

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3 thoughts on “Let’s get something straight …

  1. Bleh. That sucks. I had the same thing happen to me with one of my Beta Readers. I ended up focusing on that singular piece of feedback to the exclusion of everything else. And what’s worse, it made me less confident in my writing for a few months.

    • It does suck. People who know me know I am one of the most empathetic humans out there. It’s a shame that one thing was twisted so insanely out of context. I know it’s more a reflection of her than it is me, but still. It doesn’t make it sting any less.

  2. Well said!! I agree completely. I haven’t had this happen personally, but I’ve seen many of my author friends under fire for similar things. It’s ridiculous! We write a VARIETY of characters, and personally…some of my most vile ones were inspired by news articles and Twitter trolls–not myself or people I personally know and associate with.

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