As an author, ideas for novels come easy. I’ve been a published author now for fifteen years and what I’ve learned in that time is that a good idea is not enough. Before I start writing I ask myself what is the raisin d’etre for the novel? What is its reason for existing? Entertainment is not enough. A good novel has to have a theme that the characters will reveal through the dialogue and action of the book. Without a clear theme, a novel has no purpose and leaves the reader wondering what the point of the novel was. I try with my work to not just entertain but to make my readers think. I want my books to haunt the reader’s mind long after the book is finished.
When I wrote Gold Mountain, I dealt with a number of themes in one short but powerful story.
First, there was the issue of how different cultures perceive each other, second was how women deal with the shame associated with betrayal and rape and lastly, it dealt with how society has treated lesbian couples over the years. These issues were presented indirectly to the reader and the reader was left to draw his/her own conclusions. One of the important, qualities, I feel in good writing, is not to be afraid to deal with the hard issues but to do so in away that is objective and neutral so that the reader is allowed to bring his/her own thoughts into the story.
In Iron Rose Bleeding I dealt with the considerable environmental crisis facing the world. I presented an array of concerns but did so through the eyes of an outsider looking at planet Earth objectively and unemotionally. This was in counter point to the human element with in the story that could not look at the crisis without emotion. Two opposites then joined by a bond of love but not always understanding. The reader is left to ponder the future both of the characters and the world.
The other quality that I try to bring to my books is a positive portrayal of lesbians. I feel there is a certain responsibility that goes with publishing to encourage readers to challenge their world views and to see the positives in life. So when I sit down to write, I have my theme in mind and I’m also trying to take that theme and offer ways to resolve issues positively. In my latest novel, Tides, I looked at the turbulent history of the 20th century through the eyes of an outrageous woman. The character brought comic relief to a time of great emotional, social and political upheaval. What the character also did was to show that no matter what the time period or societylesbian women were able to find their place and flourish.
In The Dark Matter Series, I have just finished I focussed on the theme of xenophobia, as a small crew aboard a spaceship and spaceport deal with their differences. Look at that spaceship and it really is a reflection of the greater world. Again, my lesbian characters find ways to turn negatives in to positives showing that they deserve to be accepted as productive and positive elements in any society.
Writing to me is not just about getting a book in print. It’s about growing as a writer and challenging the reader to grow too in out look, beliefs and understanding. The freedoms I enjoy as a lesbian in Canada has allowed my work to flourish. I want my books to paint pictures on the readers’ minds, challenge their thoughts to go down different paths and touch their souls.
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Anne Azel publishes with Bedazzled Ink. She is retired and lives in northern Ontario, Canada.