One of my jobs is an author coach, where among other things I help others figure out their Push – their primary motivation for writing. Those fundamental convictions, life experiences, beliefs, perspectives, passions, and internal guidelines that make or break a story for an author. It’s a tremendous amount of fun!
It’s not so much fun to go deep into my own issues and realize what motivates me.
I like happy stories. No lie.
I’m not a Hallmark channel fan, but cute stories appeal to me. I’m a major fan of a few authors who excel at balancing challenging situations with humor and cuteness, to such a fine degree that it is neither too sweet, nor too spicy.
I am not one of these authors.
Granted, I write cute. The Superhero Publicist, due out through the Fellowship of Fantasy’s Hall of Heroes anthology, has a publicist trying to decide whether or not to help a supervillain who wants to turn hero. Underlying the whole humorous exchange is her very real fear for her life, both from the supposedly-former villain as well as from villains who will put her in their crosshairs if she takes the job.
Cute and death threats. Plus an awkward conversation over sudden religious convictions.
Mmkay, I’ll hop to another, lighter short story. Hearts Ablaze, theoretically due out at the end of the month (ah the flexibility of indie publishing), is a romantic satire. Girl meets hot guy. They fall in love and get engaged. Girl finds out hot guy is actually an alien–after he abducts her and whisks her away to his home planet, because apparently he’s clueless about Earth customs. She gets home (spoilers!) but there’s still an unexpected transformation that literally sets her life on fire.
Cute. Clueless. A touch fluffy, even. Plus harsh realities of getting transformed against your will and dealing with a freaking fire tail.
Considering that my full-length YA through Uncommon Universes Press deals with a dragonshifter who is a convicted killer trying to redeem herself (and yes, she looks cute). Well, I think I’ve officially failed to meet the warm and fuzzy noblebright label.
I don’t write characters who get out of things easy or who make the right decisions. These people fail, badly, in ways that really mess things up. They get engaged on a whim to a stranger who alters their DNA. They commit manslaughter and then keep killing for the bad guys, because it’s all they know how to do. They hold grudges that enable terrifying villains to go unchecked. They run away from vital responsibilities and commit themselves wholeheartedly to the wrong person (and then still have to figure out how to make good with the right person, all while the wrong person is still around). They genderbend shapeshift, command death unicorns, control toxic smoke, breathe fire/grow horns, and make things blow up.
REALLY blow up. In not-awesome ways.
For all that, I can’t stop writing misfits. I won’t stop writing them, even if they’re less accessible or not as squeaky-bright heroic as other stories. For within those characters I see reflections of my own failings and issues and misfit moments.
Within these characters is hope.
I believe that everyone was made for a purpose, and that no matter how much we screw up our lives with our choices or feel like outsiders due to our inclinations or want to hide because of shame over past failures, there is always redemption and a chance to turn everything around.
Turning things around doesn’t involve giving in to darkness or becoming some candy-coated sunshine bird of life (unless you really ARE a candy-coated sunshine bird of life, in which case = awesome).
Turning things around involves surrender. It involves seeking. It involves real, hard decisions and step-by-step, day-by-day journeys.
It better involve humor, because life’s too serious to take seriously. 😉
I write about misfits because beauty can come from anyone’s crap–and owning the journey of who you were, who you are, and who you are becoming is part of the battle.
And part of the fun.