This month, we're blogging about heat. "Heat" can mean many things: Bill Cameron talked about weather, Kimberly Sabatini talked about climate change. The romance fiction collective talks about heat levels to describe how much sexual content is depicted in books.
But today, I want to talk about heat as a metaphor for pain. For passion. For anger.
A quote attributed to Ronald Reagan says:
I try to follow this advice in all of my writing. Most of my novels are based on big issues. Bullying (SEND), oversharing (TMI), rape culture (SOME BOYS), and call-out culture (THE WAY IT HURTS).
Way back in 2011, when I was revising SEND, our own Bill Cameron helped me avoid something that's very common for adult authors writing teen fiction: stepping on our soapboxes. As a mom who nearly lost a child to suicide due to bullying, I found it hard to avoid the temptation to stop writing and start speech-making. With Bill's help, I rewrote major chunks of SEND to remove me from the story.
When I decided to write SOME BOYS, it was because I was almost incoherently angry over the Stuebenville rape case. Mainstream media was doing their best to evoke sypmpathy for the accused, rather than their victim. I wanted to write a book that did just the opposite. I wanted a story in which the victim, the survivor, is the hero. I wanted readers to feel sympathy for her, not him.
The only way to do this is to make readers feel her pain.
It's no small task. I'm writing a companion story to SOME BOYS now, based on the Brock Turner sentence. Again, I have to make readers feel that heat in terms of an outrage so morally bankrupt, it feels like it could choke you. I'm a bit overwhelmed by this task, actually.
But I'll get it done.
All I have to do is allow my own fury to reach the boiling point.