Way back in Legends of Windemere, I touched on a few sensitive topics such as torture and rape. I didn’t go too deep on the second one, but it was there thanks to Stephen Kernaghan being a sick, evil bastard. Not really sure I should say that I touched on it too because I used them as sources of story and character development. Luke had to handle the trauma of being tortured both physically and psychically. Nyx faced the fact that Stephen wanted to do horrible things to here, which is something that made me sick whenever I wrote it. Seriously, this is why he’s the one character I’ve written so far who I can never find a redeeming quality of.
I felt uncomfortable whenever I touched on one of these topics, which I kind of considered a positive. The fact that I was unnerved and twitchy meant that I wasn’t okay with the horrible actions. I hoped it came through that these were evil deeds and that there was some hope of recovering from them. All I could really do is hope here because I couldn’t tell how well I hit the note. For a while, I considered avoiding such topics altogether and keeping things ‘safe’. Yet, I kept going back because part of me wanted to at least graze the issues. Honestly, I’m realizing that I’m still uncomfortable and unnerved about talking about them. It’s like I don’t know what to say unless I’m having my characters interact with it.
That brings me to War of Nytefall: Lost, which does this to me again. A difference here is that the sensitive topic is one that I’ve thought and talked about in the past. Oddly enough, I’d been planning it for years, so I’ve been thinking about it for that long. It’s a major plot point, so I won’t go into details. All I’ll say is that I had to really think about it because men really can’t get the full gravity. So, I went looking for sites that had people talking about the emotions caused by the sensitive topic. There were times where I sat there and tried to think of what I would feel like if I went through. A final step for me was writing test scenes where each of my characters who could suffer this fate ended up going through it and saying how they felt. The various personalities led to some interesting ones, but it had me crying at the end. I deleted it too.
Geez, this post is rougher than I thought. Part of it is because I do something with this topic that could be controversial. While it happens, it kind of gets reversed. So, I had to consider what a person would feel in that situation. This brought up a strange response where the character in question gets upset that she’s been given a second chance when other people don’t get that. It felt almost like survivor’s guilt to me, but that’s only the closest thing I could think of. Again, this aspect of what I’m doing makes me really nervous about it. The anxiety is to the point where I’m worried that this post could have been a mistake.
So, I’m just going to end on a question and consider if I should reveal what the topic is in the book: How do you tackle sensitive and controversial topics in your fiction? Do you avoid them?