All throughout July, we outsiders are blogging about spark. As you read this, I am in New York City attending the RWA National Convention, where my novel, Some Boys, has finaled in two contests -- the Greater Detroit Bookseller's Best and the Rita Awards, and recently won this year's Firecracker Award. This was a story that began with a spark.
Spark has many connotations. It’s the lightbulb that propels you to work when an idea strikes. It’s the moment when you look at someone and know that person’s soul is the missing half of yours. For authors, it’s the life essence we breathe into stories and characters.
Some stories start with an idea…a concept. Others start with a person…a character. We start writing, playing little what-if games and if we’re lucky, the spark ignites and a story takes shape. If we’re extraordinarily lucky, that story is read and the sparks spread to readers – lighting up emotions, memories, inspiration, respect, or simply a new perspective.
I was extraordinarily lucky. A few years ago, the Stuebenville rape case sparked something in me. Outrage at a community who vilified the victim. Disgust at the blatant disregard for welfare displayed by the rapists. Fury with members of the media who suggested we should feel sorry for the rapists whose lives are now ruined. Those emotions, in turn, birthed a character named Grace… a girl who’s not so perfect. She drinks while under age, she wears clothing some consider too sexy, she's disrespectful to her parents, and she's also a rape survivor.
In other words, she's a girl who’s real.
She is the heroine in Some Boys. Some Boys was published and since then has collected comments from readers ranging from “Nobody deserves this” all the way to “OMG, this happened to me and reading this book gave me the courage to fight for justice.”
As proud as I am of the awards, I'm prouder still of comments like these. As an author, I can tell you nothing is more gratifying than seeing our tiny spark catch and spread into a blaze that can't be extinguished. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see an end to rape culture because of all the sparks spread by stories like Some Boys.