Like everyone else (and I do mean everyone, literally everyone I know is terrified right now) I was shocked and shaken by the election results. I responded initially with depression and despair, but eventually a new found hope to protect others and prompt change. There isn’t a lot that a newbie writer from a remote corner of Scandinavia can do, but I have always believed in the power of words, and now more than ever.
It was a reminder that young writers, and especially self-published authors, need to keep writing the type of stories that they want to write and readers want to read exactly because there are people out there who don’t want us to. They try to suppress our voices and change our stories. They try to control what people read and who gets representation in books. They try to skew the publishing industry in their favour.
When I was born Section 28 was in effect, which meant that school books couldn’t ‘promote’ anything to do with homosexuality. When my dad was born, just being gay was illegal in the UK. Both of these things changed because people said that they were wrong.
I’m not saying that my self-published book about yet another rebellious princess and her attractive boyfriend who start a revolution will have that much of an influence. I’m not just publishing it to make a stand or to be aggressively PC. It’s because as a reader, I know that readers need an escape sometimes. We know that bad things happen in reality and there aren’t always happy endings, but books remind us that sometimes they can. Heroes can still triumph over evil. Even after the moment when things seem their bleakest and there is no hope, the author has something up their sleeve to save the day. Lord of the Rings taught me that I can achieve something despite mental illness and hardship. His Dark Materials taught me that what people say is right and truthful isn’t always. Even books that don’t do that can still take your mind off your troubles and cheer you up, which puts you in a better mood to begin solving your problems rather than be crushed by them.
Even if only one or two people read my book, you can bet I’m going to fill it with a strong female character, a diverse cast, and several LGBT+ characters and romances (and I am actively avoiding the ‘bury your gays’ trope). Not just because it’s what I want to write, but because there a whole lot of people out there who don’t want me to write that.
Keep on writing.