Handling Tough Subjects
Welcome back, loyal listeners! We’re joined this week by author Kimberly Rae, author of several novels on human trafficking. Together, we discuss how to tackle difficult subjects in our fiction. As always, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, etc.
NEWS: First Line Fridays returns to Aaron’s Facebook page this week. Join the fun here.
THE FOG, Al’s latest novella–the 8th in the Harbinger series–is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It releases October 2nd. You can get it here.
Publishing term of the week: D&A = Delivery and acceptance. Often times, publishing houses will split the advance for a project in half. The first half comes when you sign the contract. The second half comes upon “D&A” or “Delivery and acceptance.” This is when the author successfully completes the manuscript, submits it to the publisher, and the publisher accepts it as fulfillment of the author’s portion of the contract.
Handling Tough Subjects:
Kimberly Rae answers our questions.
What do you mean by “tough subjects?”
The hard issues of life. The hurts and fears and evil around us. Some examples include human trafficking, abuse, marriage problems, depression, incurable illness, etc.
Why is it important to talk about tough subjects in your fiction?
I believe that people will read about things in a fiction story that they wouldn’t want to necessarily read about in a non-fiction book about that topic. For example, many people would not want to read a book stating statistics and numbers on human trafficking. It’s overwhelming and makes people feel like they cannot make a dent in such a vast problem. However, a novel can present the truth within an exciting and interesting story that motivates people. My suspense novel, Stolen Woman, tells the story of one trafficked girl and the people who care and work to rescue her. Someone who reads Stolen Woman will be presented with the problem of trafficking (without it being overly graphic like a news story or non-fiction book might be), but also motivated that they can be part of the solution. They can make a difference in one person, and in doing so, change the world.
People love stories. We can find ourselves in a character and learn through their mistakes and their successes. Stories can change us forever.
What are the implications for publication?
It’s a tough line to walk, writing about hard subjects. Publishers may shy away from certain controversial topics, so know that if you’re going to write about the tough issues, you may have to get your story out to the world yourself. However, with the many options in self-publishing and print-on-demand these days, that’s not the daunting mountain to climb that it used to be. I think that if God has given you a message to give to the world, a story to tell, even if a publisher doesn’t jump at it, tell it anyway.
Then again, they may find it addresses the human condition and meets a felt need in the current culture and want a whole series from you. You never know till you try!
Do you feel that everyone should write a novel about a challenging subject?
Personally, no. Though, as Aaron mentioned, it’s a very good exercise for a writer to write about something they fear, or a hard subject they would like to avoid, that might be just a personal piece they keep to themselves. I don’t think writers should necessarily create entire books around a subject that is difficult to write about. That being said, you might find your most powerful writing is when you are facing your deepest fears or struggles in your writing.
For the hard topics, I think if you’re passionate about something (whether it’s an internal passion – personal experience – or external – something in our world you care deeply about) and want to share that passion in your writing, that shines through and impacts people.
For example, human trafficking is something I’m passionate about fighting, and so I write books about the people who care and want to make a difference. That’s my external passion.
My Sick & Tired series, however, is non-fiction books addressing my own personal questions and struggles learning to accept and live with an incurable disease. In those, readers come alongside my own questions to God and search for answers.
I write about human trafficking for others who care. I write about illness for others, but also for myself. It’s theraputic.
How can we handle these topics properly?
I think it’s important to have a purpose. Don’t write about hard subjects just to stick them in there. I also think it’s very important to not glorify the evil. That dishonors God and is opposite my purpose of helping people overcome and live in the light. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but like when I write about trafficking, I don’t describe what goes on inside a brothel. That merely continues the very exploitation I want to fight. We shouldn’t be making the evil the exciting parts. The best parts should be the overcoming, the heroes winning, the people finding purpose and hope and freedom.
What are the most important things to keep in mind as we handle these topics?
Know what you’re talking about. People need to be able to say you get it, that you really understand.
Care. Write what you’re passionate about, what God has given you to say. The things you care about most will probably be your most powerful stories and the most impacting.
Write to make a difference. Will people be able to find themselves in your story, and through it grow, be changed, or overcome in some way?
How can people get hold of you and what’s your latest book?
My latest novel, Shredded, just came out this month and I’m so excited about it. Readers can order books on Amazon in paperback or Kindle, or they can get autographed books at www.kimberlyrae.com.
Next week: “Our Favorite Endings” with guest Dennis Fulgoni.