Happy Monday. I feel like I should put a warning label at the front of this post about politics. Something like, "Be careful, toxic sludge danger ahead!" I'm not sure if I'd be warning myself or readers. Maybe both. As I write this, I'm not even sure I'll post it, but ... well, I’ve had some emotional things going on in my private life so my feelings are close to the surface and I'm here now with fingers on keyboard so I'll try to share my thoughts on what inspired my newest novel, Strange Bedfellows. And I'll do it with headings and stuff because that's how I roll.
1. The actual book.
Before I start, I should say that nobody should expect a heavy dose (or even a medium dose or probably a small dose) of politics in this book. It's more like a child-size, sweet-flavored drop. Those of you who have read my work know that I write character-driven romance, meaning my focus is on the characters and their relationship rather than on their backdrop. This book is no different. You can expect a light read with a fair bit of sex, warm fuzzies, and a happily ever after that just happens to take place with a political backdrop.
2. My writing process.
But writing is about more than what's on the page, at least for me. In order to write a novel length story with characters who grow individually and together and to do this repeatedly from book to book without repeating the same men, I have to know the people I'm writing. For me, the first step in the writing process takes place before I type the first word. It takes place in my head where I get to know the men I'm going to share with readers. And in my head, for Trevor and Ford, politics matter in important but varying ways.
Now, let me say some things about myself. Yes, I'm saying things about myself. Holy wow.
· I have political leanings that lean so heavily, I'd have toppled to the ground by now if they physically manifested. I won't say what they are though, not because I'm in any way ashamed of them, but because I believe them to be irrelevant for this post. In fact, I think that irrelevance is the essence of this post.
· I don’t miss an election ever. I donate quite a bit to political causes/parties/candidates. And I’ve lobbied both locally and in D.C. where I’ve sat beside elected officials I agreed with and those I didn’t agree with. We’ve looked each other in the eyes, we’ve talked, and we’ve shaken hands. Did any of that make a difference on a floor vote? I don’t know. But I know they’re people and they know I’m a person and that matters because connections matter.
· I have gay friends who were raised LDS, catholic, and protestant whose parents still go to church on Sundays and who love them and embrace them completely. I have seen firsthand the ability of people to love their G-d and their family. It’s real.
4. My point.
So why am I giving you that background? What’s my point? Well, what I’m trying to say is that we are not — not any of us — perfect, but we are all human. And to me that means that at our core, we are more the same than we are different.
To me, that means my gay friends who were raised LDS have more in common with their former Sunday school classmates than they have differences, even if they no longer go to church because that church rejected them.
To me that means people on both sides of the heartbreakingly ever-widening political spectrum are just that — people. They have dreams and hopes and families and laughter and tears and *humanity*. They are not caricatures made up of their worst mistakes or their divided beliefs. They have room to grow and change and come together as they learn. Many of them *are* growing and changing and coming together as they learn. And that is because they have more in common than they have differences.
I have to believe in our commonalities because to not believe in them strips away a hope I refuse to lose. We as a society have to believe in our commonalities if we have any hope of coming together instead of continuously pushing each other away.
And that brings me back to Strange Bedfellows. If you've gotten this far in my way-too-long post, you understand why I wrote a book about people whose lives are surrounded by politics but yet has very little actual politics in it. It's because I personally believe we as humans have more in common than not and we are more than the ticket we vote on election day or the pew we sit in (if we sit in pews), much more. And I write about people's hearts, not their wrappings.