Molly Ringwald has a wonderful article in the New Yorker revisiting her work in John Hughes’s films. She really went the extra mile on this, to the point of interviewing a fellow actress she hadn’t seen in decades. It’s very much worth the read.
I think a lot about the fails from my first book. A LOT.
I love all my books. I’m proud of all my books. I’m super proud of Good Intentions.
And yet… Good Intentions starts with an attempted rape. I had reasons, I thought it made sense, and even now I think it holds up, but damn I wish I’d done something else. I included the explicit labeling of rape in the text because the protagonist wanders into a bizarre and unexpected situation where I wanted no ambiguity about who the bad guys were and what he should do. At the time, I figured the good guys get away okay, the bad guys go up in smoke, and neither of the intended victims are the sort to carry trauma from this, so we move on. But rape is the sort of subject that really shouldn’t be used without it specifically being the subject. I hadn’t really encountered serious discussion of how overused that trope is until it was too late. I could’ve done something else.
One of the first bits of protagonist dialogue involves a white guy dropping a racial slur, and even if it’s in the context of “hey white guys, don’t do this shit” I could’ve just not had that at all. The book involves a spectrum of sympathetic black characters, but the first black characters to appear are gang members. The only Latino characters are part of a drug cartel.
These are all things that are real and happen in real life. They’re also harmful tropes and/or ugly stereotypes. I was new to writing and didn’t think that stuff through quite as far as I wish I had. For all those flaws, it’s a warm and funny story with lots of heart and I got better about those issues real fast… but I wouldn’t blame anyone for putting the book down before finishing it over those sorts of things.
That’s frustrating, because it’s the first of a series. I love my book, my story, my characters, and I want others to love it, too… but there’s always that “but” there because I believe in learning and growing and owning my mistakes. It’s a little tough to know how to hype a book when I also feel like I should somehow tell readers, “BTW, I screwed this up and I know it.” That doesn’t exactly fit well into a pitch. No one has ever called me out on any of these things, so I’m not writing this in response to anyone confronting me or anything of the sort, although I am sorry for not seeing those problems and fixing them ahead of time.
Anyway. Read that piece by Molly Ringwald. It’s truly great.
In other news: I plan to share a chapter or two from the next Poor Man’s Fight book on Monday the 9th. Watch this space.
Release date looks increasingly like later in the week of the 16th. Again, the paperback will follow thereafter because my formatting options have changed, and I’m waiting to hear back from Audible about creating an audio version so there’s nothing to tell there just yet.
Also, for anyone in Portland: I’ll be selling books at a table at Wizard World Comic Con April 13-15th! Hope to see you there!