by H. Linn Murphy
I've been working in a fairly gritty dystopian book called THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS. Last night I finished it, breathing a sigh of relief. It was my Nanowrimo work of love. Thrace Benoit clamored to be heard, and heard rightly. I still have some tweaks to do before I send it out to Betas, but the original draft is done.
The grittiness I worry about. There is a huge influx of very rugged books. They are often full of violence, sex, lax or non-existent morals, and misplaced gender roles. These are the books which are defining our next generations' lives.
That said, I think there's a place for books which show youths solving problems ethically. Evil and bad things do happen all the time. To ignore that is silly. Giving the youth tools to help them navigate can be a good thing.
When I first heard about Hunger Games I thought the premise was atrocious and refused to read the books. Later I heard more about them. Yes, there were still children being forced by an evil and corrupt government to kill children. But it was clear that Katniss Everdeen, the main character, and several of the other characters were as moral as they could be in such a venue. They made conscious choices to be as kind as possible.
We have a duty to be torchbearers. That's part of why I write. I want to put better literature out there for others to read. I want to make a difference. I was talking to a friend of mine who happens to own the church bookstore here in town. He told me he's searching everywhere for books that model greatness for children. We reminisced about the Tennis Shoes books by Chris Heimerdinger, and several others. He told me he's tired of grit and asked me to write him a new Tennis Shoes series. (Maybe that'll be my next project. I'm juggling four right now, though.)
Often I look at the avalanche of evil out there and despair at stemming the flow. But actually, it often only takes tossing one little pebble into the mix to make a profound difference. I'm going to toss pebbles with every book I write. I'm going to go back through my gritty newest book and make certain Thrace is a beacon and a torchbearer, and not one of the rabble.
Join me. Pick up your pebbles, ladies.