Stories are Important

 For those of us who fall outside the majority, representation is vital. People like to see a reflection of themselves, their own families, their loved ones, on the page and on the screen. It’s not about being politically correct or bowing to pressure from one group or another; it’s about not allowing people to be erased from society.

Someone was telling me recently that they believe having so many minorities, and particularly mixed race families shown on television was just unrealistic. What makes her think that? Is it because the people in her community aren’t? Another thing I hear is this: well, this group (insert minority here) is only a small percentage of the population, why should they be seen or represented? A few months back, a writer acquaintance said something like this on Facebook, and she got dragged by various people for the next couple of days over it. Frankly, under-represented people are damned tired of the excuses used for why they shouldn’t be represented or how “it’s better than it used to be in the old days.”

The quick and simple answer to why people should be represented: because people exist. Even three percent of the United States population works out to be several million people. Stories shape perception. We normalize what we see. And we hang the tag of unimportant on things which we don’t see. We don’t value what we can’t know or aren’t comfortable to relating with.

We need to pay attention to history, and not just that of the conqueror. We need every day stories about people and whatever their struggles may be, whether it falls under color, or sexual preference, or gender, culture or any combination or cross-section of those differences. Without stories, told by the people living them, we are all mysterious and unknown to each other. Without knowledge of each other’s experiences, we become woefully inept when it comes to understanding the world around us.

There are common things which we should be able to relate to with any person: the need to be loved, to have our needs met, to feel safe at home and within the larger society. We all want to go about our lives and pursue our own passions, regardless of what those might be. Those are the basics which we should all agree on. No one should have to battle for their basic status as part of humanity.

Yet minorities, women, gays, trans people, and disabled people continue to fight for representation. It’s not just a seat at the table, it’s the consensus that actually other have something worthwhile to contribute. It’s all around us. This is the struggle we see in the workplace, in pop culture, in professional organizations, and in life in general. We see it in micro-aggressions and in your face name calling. It pops up in the ugliest places, including in family members at times, colleagues, people you call friends. It’s having to explain that you really did earn a job or a degree on your own merits, and not being believed. It’s about being a woman ten times more qualified than your male opponent and still not getting the job. It’s also about being told you’re some sort of “unfortunate” combination of things which make you opposite of male, protestant, straight and white.

If people outside the majority are touchy about these subjects, there’s good reason. We learn early how to subsist in negative spaces at an early age. We learn the language of put downs, snubs, and belittling smiles in school and in the workplace. We know how it is to be insulted with a side eye and a nod by others, right in front of us. It’s obvious to us when the narrative being sold is glossing over the truth. You can’t be honest about the story of America if you cut out all the people who didn’t fit into the sanitized neat little box which the media and the education system has sold as reality for all these years.

When I hear people say they aren’t interested in other people’s stories, I am reminded that some people don’t want to hear or connect with other’s experiences. It is easier to pretend people don’t exist or are unimportant when they refuse to listen. For those who don’t want to know about other people, the world is a small, simple place, where they are always in the lead and everyone else is just abnormal in some fundamental way and not worthy of respect.

And this is why some people don’t want to hear other’s stories.

Blood Relations

We’re back to the town of Chrysalis, South Carolina.

In this story, the action surrounds an ensemble cast: a religious cult that operates through the paranormal power of a collective consciousness, a sheriff trying to find the answer to a decades-old missing person case, and its ties to two recent murders in the city.

Like all my books, there’s a little romance there too. We get to see how the lives of one couple are impacted by their status within the cult, and the damage done to them.

And being that we’re in Chrysalis, the cult members are not nearly the only beings with powers. Witches and werewolves reside here, all with their own agendas and history.

 

 

Connor Titus: The End is Now and The Guardians of Man

About a year ago, Crystal Connor and I teamed up for a project that we thought would produce one novel. What we ended up with was two co-authored books revolving around a small town after a worldwide catastrophe.  What starts out as a blackout turns into a much worse situation, with paranormal forces at work and a battle for mankind in the balance. I asked Crystal what it was like to work as part of a team for The End is Now and The Guardians of Man.

 

 

1) How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Dude I totally cheated. When you sent the writing prompts, every single one of them fit perfectly with a short story I wrote and published a year earlier call The Parish. It’s the 2nd story in my anthology …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! I wanted to expand that story so I sent you the same disaster from The Parish set in a different town.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined that the story would end up as large as it did requiring two books and two author’s to tell it.

2) Of all the characters, who was the most surprising to you?
Oh my gosh I am going to have to pick two! The first would have to be Khrystle. When she introduced herself to me I didn’t like her and I was already planning her death from those early chapters. But after you read them, added to it, then sent it back you made it impossible for me to kill her which made me despise her even more. It’s silly I know but it felt if she pitted us against each other and I resented her for that. But then… Oh but then. Much later in the story you developed her character in such a way that she broke my heart and made me cry. I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it. I think that Khrystle is the character in our books that is basically the Y in the fork in our road to Mt. Empyreal. Going off the copy that we worked on together and what I wrote alone she is the one who pulls our books apart changing them from simply from In the Foothills of Mt. Empyreal and turning them into The End is Now and The Guardians of Man.

The second character that totally blindsided me is Marradith from your Hunting in Closed Spaces series. I was reading that series last summer but once we started I stopped. For some reason I cannot read and write at the same time. There was a scene I wrote and when you sent it back you mentioned HICS and from there she sorta just showed up in my version of the story. I had to go back and research her because I really didn’t know that much about her back story and family history because I started reading the series in the middle. I had to change her to fit into the narrative of my version of events but I’m sure I did her justice and that you’ll be pleased with my interpretation of her.

3) Was there anything about working with a co-author that was easier or harder than you expected?
Actually, it was way easier than I expected. All the horror stories you hear about the perils of co-authoring a book, the ego issues, which author will be the lead narrator, scraping one idea in favor of another never happened. Working with you really has been too good to be true. I mean I still pinch myself that we actually pulled this off. I was a little worried that one of us wouldn’t be 100% happy with the way the books turned out but that solved it own problem fairly early one.
The one thing that was hard, and I need to back up a bit because I’m not sure if everyone knows this but at first we meant to co-write just one book. But when we decided to use the part we wrote together as the foundation for our own individual books that we would write independently without sharing information, that part was really hard for me. We had been talking about it and working together every day for almost four months. To go from that to complete radio silence as not to influence each other, even though that was my idea, it was surprisingly tough.
I was like “ok now what?” It was almost like a break up, I mean we weren’t even talking to each other on Facebook. And then I went through a real break up, you got another job and thru that we kinda found our way back to each other. Once you got settled in and I stopped eating my own weight in ice-cream we were able to talk to each other about our books without revealing any information. Coming up w/bench mark deadlines and reporting weekly word counts really helped get things back on track.
Another thing that was really hard was keeping this project secrete for an entire year. For those who are reading this, we’ve never seen or heard of two authors co-writing two books with the same catastrophe, told in the same town with all the same characters but told two different ways. Because it’s such an original idea we treated it like a trade secret. Being so excited about something that you can’t take about is surely a form of torture.

4) With the new books out, what are you planning to work on next?
I am going to be spending sometime in The Realm of Nine, which is the next series I have simmering in the back burner while at the same time working on another stand alone novel called The Family.

5) What do you find easier–writing about a lot of characters, or just a few?
Okay, see what had  happened was… lol. I tend to have a lot of characters in my stories, I don’t know how that happens, it makes things a bit hard because I end up with a lot of people who become hard to ‘control and keep track of’ once the story gets to the point where as an author I am no longer in the driver’s seat.

6) Do you plan to write epic stories, or does it just work out that way?
It just turns out that way, even my short stories have a way of turning out epic, just on a smaller scale.

7) What do you think has changed in your writing the most over the last two years?
I am more comfortable of doing things my own way, of going against the grain. Due to the sheer size and plot complexity of the Spectrum Trilogy made it such a great learning experience, that just having it done plus the positive feedback, has catapulted my self-confidence as a writer straight thru the stratosphere …

8) What kind of stories do you like to watch or read when time allows?
I like horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. I also love the high impact over the topic action sequences that are a staple in really good Korean action and sometimes drama films.

9) How have your family or friends reacted to your new project?
My mom is super excited, ever since The Darkness my mom has always read the very first print ARC copy. She loves it. At the time of this interview the Mt. Empyreal project was still secret so they don’t know about these books yet. They will find out a month before they go on sale by way of a cover reveal.

10) How would you spend a day if you were not allowed to write or work for 24 hours?
By sleeping and watching movies!

 

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©2014 Lori Titus