As I embrace my writing purpose, questions have come up around compassion, empathy, and empowerment.
Since it’s Tuesday and I have a cup of coffee, I decided to break down how I see it.
I’ve written about empowerment, compassion, and empathy extensively in my manifesto (read it here). That said, how do I spread these things in my fiction?
Empowerment is clear – that’s an underlying theme in Khloe. At the beginning of the series, Khloe is adrift in the new knowledge of the Otherworld. She feels out of control. There is so much she doesn’t know. Otherworlders from the Seelie and Sidhe both want to use her as a pawn. Even her parents have designs on her.
As the series progresses, Khloe learns more about herself and the world around her. Empowerment grows through knowledge – of the self, others, and one’s environment. Ori, Toran, Isha, and Myrddin only want to help Khloe. She starts using her powers and physical training. She learns about her legacy and role, as well as Otherworld history and politics.
By the end of the series, Khloe is confident and powerful. She is a strategist, and does things no one expects, and reframes the Otherworld situation. And she does this in a male game. While there are female council members, it’s clear in the series the power players are male. And then Khloe steps on the scene, and everyone defers to her. She becomes the Great Goddess, Queen, and General all in one.
Compassion is a theme that comes up in Khloe (especially in book 4, when Khloe has come into her own) but also in my stand-alone science-fiction novel, BELOW THE BELT. Alisa loses everything. Without saying more (spoilers!), she suffers a kind of loss that is more profound that words can say. Still, she does not retaliate against those responsible. She listens to their stories, the reasoning behind their actions. She comes to recognize the depth of suffering on their side, and in that, she is able to negotiate a solution that everyone thought was impossible.
Empathy is throughout my work, but I think most strongly in THE ROLLINS PACK. When I started writing those books, I just wanted to write a fun werewolf book. Then everything went sideways, and suddenly I was writing a series to help boys and men understand the nature of gender power dynamics, both in family relationships (like with Sybil, Bev, and even Olivia) as well as love and friend relationships (Bridget, Phoebe, Laurie, Ash, Cassandra, and even Eileen).
In addition to that, I wrote in other themes of addiction, family, community, and class. The Rollins Family situation gave me room to discuss all these things in realistic, accessible ways, without hitting anyone over the head. By far they are the most painful to write because the difficulties are close to home (well, at least Jeremiah and Andrew), however I feel they are incredibly important. And when I get to Freddy and Charlie, they will be similar. I already have plans for them which could result in a semi-stupor while writing.
This may make you wonder, “Alexis, why would you write this if it could send you into a depressive stupor?”
Indeed. Why is this so important? Why does fiction hold this important place – the possibility for discussion unlike its nonfiction brethren?
Nonfiction has a bias on it – before it’s even out the door. The headline already closes off certain segments of the population. Fiction isn’t quite like that. I mean, it is possible to do this with extreme world-building or heavy-handed preaching. But for world-building that’s just a step or two off of reality? For a narrative coming from a character’s lips? Their story, told by them? It’s possible for anyone on any side of an issue to read it. And then the fun starts.
As readers or writers, what do you think about including these kinds of themes in fiction? Do you find you engage in ideas different than your own or start discussion? Leave a comment or let me know!
Also, if you like the idea of changing the world with fiction, join us in the group, Write Story Writers.
Much love & coffee,
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