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.
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!