deadlyeverafter

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

I Said The Wrong Thing (and a giveaway!)

Today’s brew: Lime seltzer. I’m going to Las Vegas in 18 days. I need to lay off the bread and the beer if I expect to look cute in my party clothes.

by Kristen

Write what you know. It’s the most common advice people give writers.  It’s a security blanket for new writers. While we’re working on our pacing, plot, and conflict, we don’t have to worry about researching details about character traits.  It’s why Julie’s Nicholas practices Karate, and her book is set in New Hampshire.  It’s why I wrote about rock stars and reality shows, and set my books in Las Vegas in Massachusetts.  We know these things inside and out. We can incorporate insider details to make the characters and setting feel authentic.

But what happens when things you know are considered opinions by other people?

Because the Night had many beta readers, rounds of edits, and early readers.  As it was in production to go live, a reviewer pointed out that the way I referred to Callie’s hair and skin color might be considered offensive to some readers.

Oh. My. God.

In cosmetology school, we were taught to use food references when talking about hair color. How many times have you gone to get your hair done and not get what you ask for? Well, everyone knows food. It’s an easy way to communicate what you want. Butter and caramel are two totally different colors, and shades of highlight. Callie is biracial, and she has unusual coloring. It seemed natural to refer to these in my go to food terms, so everyone would know exactly what I pictured her to look like.  Apparently, that’s not politically correct.

*please pause while Kristen dies a little inside*

So one faux pas. We’re all allowed that, right? Well, I did it again.  In Seasons in the Sun, a huge gala that takes place. The book is set on Martha’s Vineyard, in super liberal Massachusetts. To me, it seemed natural to make it a fundraiser for President Obama, since his family vacations on the island every year. It wasn’t meant to be a political statement at all.  For the ending to make sense, I needed an over the top event. Unless aliens landed on the island, the President was as big as I could get.

Well, I underestimated people’s strong feelings about Mr. President.  Some people thought it was a political statement.

*Kristen dies a little more*

I know the place for my opinions is not in my books. Even though the main characters could care less about the political implications, the secondary characters do. This isn’t a post about not having opinions. We should all have strong opinions, and we should be able to respect each other’s differences. I just never thought I’d ruffle feathers that way in my romance novels.

I’m giving away my politically incorrect novels! And lip gloss. Because if you’re going to put your foot in your mouth, you should be properly glossed.  Click below and win stuff!

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8 thoughts on “I Said The Wrong Thing (and a giveaway!)

  1. And get a pedicure too. NEVER stick your foot in your mouth without a hot looking pedicure. Just don’t. It’s so trashy. ;-)

  2. How silly–not this post–but the fact that people actually took issue with those very trivial things. So, it’s wrong to say someone has caramel colored skin? What’s the alternative? Pottery Barn beige? Tea cup taupe? Sometimes you just have to say…yeah, okay thanks. lol.

    • Pottery Barn beige is excellent. Unless we’re excluding a segment of the population who chooses not to shop there.

      Like Callie and Tristan care about any of that stuff. They’re just looking for some place to make out.

  3. I find this to be so fucking ridiculous I could die. We write to say the things we want to say, to make statements whether they be our own personal feelings or not. Alice In Wonderland was riddled with political statement. Nobody fucks with Alice. I talk all day long about scents, comparing people to food in my books and in real life, because I LIKE FOOD. And because it is the most emotive way to relate to the senses, to appeal to a person’s memories, and to speak universally. So the term “peaches and cream” complexion is offensive? Because I quite like it. “Milky skin” is a problem? Didn’t think so. BECAUSE THEY’RE CAUCASIAN TERMS. I commend you for writing a character that isn’t white! There’s a pathetic representation of these characters in this genre, and if we continue to be scared of how to refer to them, there always will be.

    Love,
    Julie

  4. I expect to run into some of these issues myself. My main character is a lesbian, not because I’m trying to make a political statement about gay rights, but because that’s who she is. My characters are struggling against being branded terrorists because of their magical abilities, and there are unintended parallels to the struggles of Muslims against oppressors who think everyone of their religion is a terrorist. I didn’t intend to write a political book series. Heck, it doesn’t even take place in the real world. But the parallels are there, and I expect them to be pointed out one day, for better or worse.

  5. I do food references for some of my physical descriptions too. So long as they are yummy foods, how is it offensive? I mean, sure if you said someone had eyes the colour of liver then I’d be a bit worried, but otherwise…?!

  6. There are some who look to be offended in everything – and there is no pleasing them. Your characterization was innocent and not laden with negative connotation. The visual cues in your description give the reader a sense of who this person is, not “what they are.” Haters gonna hate. Writers gonna write. Go Kristen.

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