EW.com has an interesting article today. They asked Stephen King, in the wake of the worry over the Virginia Tech shooter’s writing, “Where, exactly, does one draw the line between imagination and disturbing expression that should raise red flags?”
I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately, in a broader context than that of violence. I suppose the question I’ve been thinking is along the lines of “How much of what you write is who you are?”
I asked Jay Lake that question a while ago in a chat, and he replied that he didnâ€™t think you could tell much about a writerâ€™s beliefs at all from what they write and pointed to himself as proof. But I donâ€™t know. I look at Jayâ€™s novel Mainspring and I would feel certain, even if I didnâ€™t know Jay, that despite the misogyny of the culture as a whole in that book, Jay is not chauvinistic–that shows through the overarching themes and the way the characters play out.
However, I would also suspect, reading that book without knowing Jay, that Jay was a religious man, and Iâ€™d be wrong in that regard. Thatâ€™s only one book, though–not a whole body of work where youâ€™re likely to see recurring themes–and any decent author can write on a theme they donâ€™t believe in. Within a single book, itâ€™s not the blatant themes that lead me to suspect Iâ€™m seeing the authorâ€™s worldview; itâ€™s the more subtle ones that I suspect are unconscious. (Though, yes, I know authors can consciously manipulate subtle themes too! I just have the ego to fancy, having worked with books so long, that I can tell the difference. :-)) Iâ€™ve been working hard on trying to define more accurately how, but itâ€™s extremely difficult to do…especially when you need to be politic. :-)
I recall a novel I read years ago, though, in which not a single female character filled a role other than servant, mother, or evil bitch, and where homosexuality was always associated with evil. :-/ Itâ€™s difficult to this day for me to assume that I would like that author.
I guess that part of what is bringing this subject to the forefront of my mind now is that the story I plan on posting for Monday’s Technopeasant Day is erotic and disturbing. Do I worry that people will view me oddly because of it? Well…a little, yeah; I’m pretty new to this side of the writing gig.
I think most people in publishing know thereâ€™s a line between author and story, but Iâ€™m curious where you draw it.