Well, I’m a bit late to the party but now I’m on board. I like BTS. I like their music, and their latest, Map of the Soul: 7, is the first new music album I’ve bought in years. I’ve spent a lot of time catching up to the older stuff I missed when I couldn’t hear music for eight years. So this is big, forking over money for the entire thing instead of picking and choosing a song here and there.
The album is breaking records all over the world but here’s the thing: I like the music. I’m not riding the wave of public opinion and that’s probably the best endorsement anyone can give (and I like to think most, if not all, of us are listening for the same reason). I’m glad for their sakes that it’s doing so well though.
Now you’ll have to excuse me while I go listen and watch a few of their amazing vids and wander into a different universe. Not a bad way to spend a day.
I’m sure most people have seen the image that went viral recently, that of a toddler in a wheelchair staring at an ad in a Target store—the model for the boys’ clothing ad was also in a wheelchair.
It’s a powerful image. That little boy saw the message: I’m not alone. There are people out there like me.
It’s a connection that feels so good when it happens.
My short stories feature a pair of demons living in middle-aged bodies. They even have sex (off stage, but still). They could have swapped bodies for younger, thinner ones but for some reason I don’t yet know, they choose to remain where they are. And even though they’re demons, I like them because they seem like middle-aged people. They’re not all-knowing creatures simply because they’re older. They have quirks and wrinkles.
My novel Magical Ties includes a minor character named Ro, a smart, beautiful woman, and her girlfriend, Alicia, who’s a mechanic—among other things. Including a lesbian couple into my story wasn’t a “thing” to me because frankly I see no difference between them and a heterosexual couple. They date and go grocery shopping, and I’m sure there will be arguing in future books. But I also remember the time I went into a bookstore with a friend who checked out the LGBTQ+ shelf and sighed. In the entire store, the fiction and nonfiction for that category were lumped together and barely covered one shelf.
Being invisible can be a terrible thing.
So, while Ro and Alicia didn’t have to be a same-sex couple (they could just as easily been Robert and Alicia), I made the decision to include them as they are.
But it’s tricky to add characters simply because they’re underrepresented in books. It can feel forced, and who wants to read something artificial? Not me. Which is why there’s no hard-of-hearing or deaf character in my stories. I’m hard-of-hearing, and every time I’ve considered it, the character refused to form. Maybe I’m too close to get a handle on one. Will I ever? I don’t know.
So, writers, what do you do?
Because of the overwhelming popularity of the film Parasite, I feel it’s time to confess.
For me, the addiction to Korean films started with two fantasy films, Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds and Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days. I was spellbound at how exquisite the films were (and really, your best bet is to binge-watch both straight through).
You might think I hesitate because the story (whether traditionally published or indie) could be filled with spelling or grammatical errors and without a track record there’s no way to know. While those are huge factors, that’s not the problem for me.
Sometimes my characters allow me glimpses into their lives that are outside the stories they’re in. And just when I was thinking that retired demons Jonas White and Valerie Brodsky acted somewhat benign as citizens of Hell, they popped up in this snippet and reminded me that a demon is a demon is a demon.
Valerie’s Beauty Treatment
“You’re wearing a headband. With Polka dots and a big bow?” Jonas stared.
“Brilliant deduction, genius.” Valerie waved him into the apartment.
“Dare I ask why?”
“Follow me.” She brushed past him and led the way to the bedroom.
He stood in the doorway with her and stared. Blood was splattered everywhere, from the walls to the bedding to the carpet.
There was no body.
“Still—why the fluffy headband?”
Jonas raised his eyes obediently and noted blood dripping from the light fixture. “Still don’t get it.”
“Are you kidding? Blood from a probable murder? It’ll do great things for my skin and all I need to do is stand there and let it drip.” Valerie’s eyes gleamed red for an instant before reverting to their more human shade.
“Of course. Silly me. Beauty treatment.” Jonas’s voice lowered to a register deeper than normal. “You don’t need a beauty treatment, you know. Your body is doing very well.”
Valerie shifted restlessly. “Yes, for a middle-aged human. I want to keep this body as long as I can, but really, the possibilities here are too good to overlook.”
Jonas and Valerie can be found in the following anthologies:
It was after 2 a.m. and I needed to print out a few pages so I could edit them. Instead of starting its normal hum, my printer began screeching a banshee’s cry of death—one that didn’t stop even after I switched it off. (If my neighbors are reading this, major apologies.)
Quite frankly, it scared the shit out of me. I turned it off! It should have stopped! At 2 in the morning, thinking “possession” is a perfectly logical possibility. I yanked the cord from the outlet and finally there was silence. And a dead printer.
Trying during daylight hours had the same result. And I felt stuck, in both writing and editing. I need to see the print on a physical page with pen in hand.
A new printer arrived but hasn’t been hooked up yet. I admit to still being a bit freaked by the demise of my old one. Prior printers passed away peacefully (aside from swearing, on my part) and the fact that this one protested so stridently has left me hesitant to just get on with it.
I will, I will.