Someone joked: “What will Rachael Maddow talk about now that Biden won?”
It’s both funny and not, and I don’t even know if that was a commentary from the Blue or the Red side of the political spectrum. As divided as we are as a country, the amount of trauma we have all suffered through in these last few years won’t simply be erased. We are all suffering from politics induced PTSD. Despite the advice from fearful writers, I express my strongly-held political opinions freely — art is always political. To deny that is to create sugar-coated nothings. If some of my readers get turned off by my observations, so be it. My books are about politics because they are about ideas, science, history, psychology, and human interactions. As primates, we view everything through the lens of politics. So I don’t shy away from revealing that I wanted a blue tsunami to sweep this country clean. Didn’t happen exactly how I wanted it, but I’m hopeful we can somehow steer ourselves back to “normal.” Ultimately, most people just want to go back to living their lives in peace.
One of the problems I had with the Bush-era was that instead of going to Mars and focusing on science and exploration, he drove us off the cliff of war. That was not an accident. It was deliberate. It was some strange, modern continuation of medieval crusades. I’m not saying there was no provocation; I just hoped for a different future.
The Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” is a powerful curse. Political turbulence leads to instability. So instead of focusing on our families and our passions, we get trapped in quagmires of endless wars and conflicts. Who wants that? Who needs that? I can’t imagine having to worry about my sons fighting in some strange lands…or worry that my sons might not come home one day due to some state-sanctioned violence. All those poor families that have to endure that day after day.
One of the most powerful adverts against wars is the Twitter feed of @AuschwitzMuseum. Each day, they post a few dozen photographs of victims of the Nazi Regime. Anyone who can look in a face of a two-year-old and understand why that child was “selected” to be exterminated in a gas chamber is a monster. Everyone in the world should be an Anti-Fascist.
When I look at the people who were murdered in German concentration camps, all I see are the faces of my sons, my nieces, my aunts, my father’s, my grandparents’…my own. The only thing that separates me from those people is time and place. I can feel the “luck” bestowed on me by history (and my parents who left Russia when they did).
Politics makes us blind. We stop seeing the suffering of people around us and grab hold of some ideology or some grievance. Art is supposed to help us see that which is covered up by our own prejudices. And prejudices take us so much time. They rob us of freedom to do good, to live our lives to the fullest, to simply enjoy our time on Earth. The more we elevate those who are able to press our fear buttons, the more we live in that fear.
When was the last administration in which we all knew who the U.S. Postmaster General was? And not just him. I know the names of the Attorney General, the previous Acting Attorney General, and the first appointed Attorney General. I know the name of people working in HHS and the CDC. I know the Treasury Secretary, the previous Interior Secretary, and his crony in corruption the previous EPA administrator. I know so many of them. I never cared before — if something works smoothly, why look? It is only when things break down that we have to pay attention and use our free time and energy on getting to know and understand in detail what was failing and why. And things are failing everywhere from our health to our life-expectancy to childhood education to the environment to work… I loved the quiet evenings when my husband and I used to go out to dinner and say hello to our favorite waitress and chef, to wave to our neighbors on the street (and recognize them), to simply take a hike on a beach without worry, to hug my family and share a meal with them. Those days will come again, but we will all be changed by our experiences now. We will never be the same and will be changed by this in the same way that the Greatest Generation was forever changed by WWII.
The stories we will tell ourselves of these times — how we remember it — will shape who we are to our dying days. I look to artists and authors I respect to help me make sense of all of this. I write stories to help others do the same. I don’t shy away from revealing my political inclinations because I believe them to be righteous. And what’s the point, really? Would anyone who reads my stories not guess that I’m a Democrat? Really?
And now to go back to our regular programming…
It is done! I’ve sent “Lord Nox” — or whatever the title of this new novel is going to be — to my editor! It started out as a middle-grade fantasy short story of a reluctant demon who was made a godfather to a little girl; it ended as a full-length adult novel on overcoming loss and finding one’s place in the world (the story still has a demon godfather…and a world-wide plague that killed children). Below is the illustration of Lord Nox and Lady Gray:
So this means I am returning to the novel whose first draft I finished last April — “Mirror Shards” (again, just a working title, at the moment). This one is definitely an adult fantasy book based on the idea of multiverses.
If anyone wants to get an advanced readers copy, please let me know.
Here is a link to the Pinterest page I’ve set up for these new books: “Mirror Shards” and “Lord Nox.” Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what type of stories these turned out to be. (Or, I should say, what type of stories I think they turned out to be!)
“God of Small Affairs” competed in the 2020 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and placed Semi-Finalist. You can read the bad and the good reviews of this story here Fantasy Hive. (PS: The judges really hated the cover.)
One of my short stories, “The Suit”, won a honorable Mention for the Writers of the Future Contest 4th quarter of 2020.
Some Reading Materials
I always try to enter a few authors’ promotions for each of my newsletters. I’ve entered two this newsletter period:
Cats in Fantasy & Paranormal Book Fair — “Lizard Girl & Ghost”
Bargain Priced Books — “God of Small Affairs”
Here is my reading of the first chapter of “God of Small Affairs”…yes, I know I sound like a child, but we all get to work with what we have…