The bad news: I’m old enough to talk about the next generation of authors.
The good news: they’re going to change the world.
In October, I had the privilege to visit Windward High School, a local school with not only a creative writing class, but an after school club as well. Talk about envy! When I was in high school, the closest we had was an advanced composition class, and that was about it. In fact, so few people even knew about the class that when I got an award from my teacher for a story I wrote, the school secretary wrote “Excels in Advanced Comprehension” instead of “composition.”
So last October, I spoke with local author Rob Slater‘s creative class and his after school club. Our conversations revolved primarily around craft and style, which is always a fun discussion. We reviewed how to write more quickly, how to differentiate male and female characters, how to handle Nanowrimo, and more. Perhaps my favorite conversation revolved around the heroine’s journey and how it differs from the hero’s journey as a basic plotline.
The conversation evolved, as they’re wont to do, and we began talking about LBGT. Nowadays, that’s taboo in current mainstream fiction (and usually an author hears “good for you!” and “that’s brave” when she writes a gay or trans secondary character, much less a lead, like in my friend Samantha Mark’s debut novel A Fatal Family Secret). However, these kids embraced it as normal. I loved to see their gusto — they truly did not care about the lead’s sexual orientation or how that might affect sales. It was a part of the character’s experience, part of their experience.
It makes me realize how much fiction follows social change — and I do think it’s in that order. With the growing acceptance of LBGT (finally) in our mainstream culture, fiction is catching up. In the next ten to twenty years, I think we’ll see LBGT leads as commonly as their straight counterparts. But it may take some time, and these aspiring authors are part of that change.
It’s neat. I so respect these young writers, and I cannot wait to see what they do.
And of course, what’s a meet-and-greet without a selfie?