It’s with great pleasure today that I get to share a guest post from Angelena Boden, author of The Future Can’t Wait as part of the blog tour.
The Future Can’t Wait is the emotive and compelling second novel from Angelena Boden, author of the gripping The Cruelty of Lambs.
Kendra Blackmore is trying to be a good mother and a good wife, as well as pursuing her pressurised teaching career. Then Kendra’s half-Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her running away from home and cutting off all contact with her family.
Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home-loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to find any way possible to discover the truth and bring her estranged daughter home…
The Future Can’t Wait is a gripping story of a mother’s love, and the lengths we would all go to in order to know our children are safe.
Published by Urbane Publications on November 2nd 2017 and available to purchase here – Amazon UK
GUEST POST FROM ANGELENA BODEN
EVERYBODY IS WELCOME IN MY BOOK.
The over-zealous writer who wants to show they understand diversity and the importance of inclusivity in their work runs the risk of over-writing characters who sink into the dreaded stereotype. Critics will say that’s because you’ve got to be that person and have a “lived experience,” (white male, black female, Asian doctor with a disability) to write authentically from their point of view. Why? Fiction writers draw on imagination and temporarily inhabit a world that is not their own.
One of America’s greatest writers, Michael Chabon, who is white, wrote a black character into one of his books and was criticised for it. Some reviewers said he risked damaging his reputation. His comeback was that if he couldn’t write from the point of view of a black female midwife, for example, he couldn’t write from anyone’s point of view.
Authors worried about getting it wrong or bringing down the wrath of a particular community around their ears so there is a self- protective tendency to play it safe. About my first novel, a friend said this to me, ‘Just because one of your best friends is gay, it doesn’t give you the right to include somebody like him in your book.’
Where to begin? Firstly, both my books are set in Birmingham. Diversity is a key word in this city. It would have been really odd in my former career not to have had a rich mix of people in my training room. Secondly, who own the right to inclusivity? Finally, “somebody like him” screams out a prejudice from the get-go. I did consult my gay friend and asked him to check the relevant text. He told me stop being so PC over it, saying he wouldn’t check with me about whether a straight, white woman of a certain age with two degrees would behave in a particular way because we are all individuals. Touché. You can offend during the course of trying not to.
I’ve been complimented on my bravery in tackling a much misunderstood condition of autism in The Future Can’t Wait as I don’t personally suffer from Asperger’s.
Firstly I haven’t tackled anything but simply shaped a character from society’s melting pot and included them in the story. However I do take issue with the word suffer. The few people I know well who are on this spectrum don’t suffer. See how easy it is to make assumptions? My husband doesn’t suffer and he thinks it’s us neuro-typicals ( the neologism widely used by those on the autistic spectrum) who are the disadvantaged ones! I don’t like labelling people so I’ve left it up to the reader to decide if Prof David Blackmore has Asperger’s or something else. Maybe he’s just a grumpy old man. A good one for debate in book clubs.
A more obvious example of inclusivity in the book is the issue of mixed race children (dual heritage is my preferred term) and ethnic minorities who don’t fit the media stereotype.
I do get tired of the assumptions, pumped up by the media, that all Iranians are Muslim, never mind fundamentalists, supporters of ISIS and devotees of Hezbollah. As the book shows, Zoroastrians are the oldest religious community in Iran, many of whom left after the Islamic Revolution as they feared persecution. I wanted to challenge these assumptions, based on ignorance and that having an Iranian name or certain “look” meant you fit into a pre-cast mould or to put in modern terms, put you on a no-fly list.
Even though I could write the character of Rani with relative confidence, I am still prepared for criticism from some quarters. Like with all fictional characters unless you’ve got express permission, you have to be careful that your characters don’t resemble somebody you know not only to avoid libel action but also a right to privacy claim. Mine do but I have that permission.
I don’t develop characters because I want to make a political or social point. That would be exploitation. My purpose is to shine a light on areas of life that might be a mystery to people and challenge assumptions.
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