While investigating current science fiction and fantasy trends, I came across several recommendations for this non-fiction book as a source in how to write aliens convincingly. The third or fourth time I saw one of these recommendations, I decided it was a book I should add to my writing craft shelf.
It was an interesting read.
The book is about including people who are different from yourself in your fiction. They use a concept they call “ROAARS” to describe several characteristics that differentiate one person from another. The acronym stands for Race, (sexual) Orientation, Age, Ability, Religion, and Sex.
They open with a discussion of the “reptile brain,” the part of us that continually evaluates threats. They conclude that this part of the brain has absorbed societal biases, such as dark skin is bad, and feeds them to our higher functions so we know to run away. I question the societal part of this. If you generalize the process, it’s really a matter of that person is not like me, therefore (s)he is dangerous.They say it’s okay to have this reaction. What you need to do, though, is train your forebrain to move away from these biases sent to it by your reptile brain.
There are some very thoughtful discussions on inclusiveness versus writing only characters who represent the majority of the population. There are suggestions on how to incorporate realistic characters of different ROAARS groups. There are lots of references for further reading.
While I don’t agree with all of the authors’ opinions, it gave me lots to think about. I’ll definitely be more conscious of characters who are not like me in my novels and try to do a better job with them.
This book started slowly, changing to a different set of characters just when the story started to involve me. I almost quit reading it, but it engaged me enough to keep me going, hoping for more of the good scenes. Halfway through, the pace picked up and I started to enjoy the book.
However, the ending fell down. First there was a scene that worked in The Wizard of Oz to get Dorothy’s friends inside the wicked witch’s castle, but totally failed as a realistic way to get the good guys out in this book. In fact, the minute the setup started, my first thought was, “Don’t tell me… He’s not really going to do that, is he?” Unfortunately, he did.
Without giving too much away, in the end it struck me that the author’s goal in writing this book was an attempt to discredit Christianity.
A disappointment after waiting weeks for this book to become available from the library.
I’ve fallen in love with the series on Hallmark Channel based on this book, so decided to read it and see if I liked it as well. I did.
However, the book is very different from the Hallmark series. Both take place in the Canadian Northwest. Both involve the growing relationship between a teacher and a mountie. But there are significant differences, which surprised me.
While I’d describe the television series as women’s fiction, the novel is definitely romance. I’d also call the series “up lit,” a relatively new term for uplifting fiction about people coming together to solve problems. There’s much less of this in the book.
I definitely enjoyed the book, though. Although there were no terribly dramatic events—no murders, no mine collapses, no outlaws robbing the bank—I was drawn into the characters and their stories.
In fact, I liked the first book so much, I bought the six-book collection of all the novels in this series. I’m looking forward to reading all of them.