I was recently talking with a friend about book marketing and she made a comment that my book has some timely themes because fighting oppression is an important element of the story. Considering the state of the world these days, it is a timely topic, both here in the U.S. and around the world. Sydney, the heroine of Thief of Hope, is an unlikely leader, although she does have a strong sense of right and wrong and the desire to stand up for what’s right. She despises those with money and power and wants the commoners of the feudal society in which she lives to have a better quality of life and more control over their own lives. Hmm, sound familiar?
Anyone who knows me knows these are ideas that are important to me. I’m not sure I set out to incorporate them into the book, but they crept in there. My heroine is an illiterate pickpocket, occasional prostitute, and she’s also homeless. And she’s battled drug addiction. She’s not exactly a role model. She’s at the bottom of the barrel. Over the course of the book, however, she fights hand over fist to overcome her past and prove she is worthy of the expectations placed on her.
One of the things that drew me to the SF/fantasy genre is the ability to explore social issues in a different context. Lots of authors have done this brilliantly. Two of my favorites who immediately come to mind are Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler, whose books explore race and sex and other cultural issues. These large ideas, in my opinion, are what make a book “literature.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s set somewhere out in space or in an imaginary world. It makes you think or view your life or the lives of others in a different light. It touches you in some way. I can only hope to someday be able to do that with my writing.
I’m not sure Sydney would be hunkered down with the OWS protesters. It’s not exactly a fair comparison. The world of my book is much bleaker than what most of us experience in the United States and the setting is a feudal society where a select few have money and power and the rest of the population has very little and no rights. But as history has shown, people who are committed to their ideals and willing to fight for them can be a powerful force for change. Even in a made-up world.