Monday, 5 January 2015

Austin-King! You leave that poor priest alone!

The other day someone was chatting to me about my latest book and commented that my views on religion come across very clearly in both of my novels. I was intrigued by this and, though I'm not going to comment too much on the religion in the books (because, you know... spoilers) it is interesting that some people think I share this view just because I wrote it as a plot device.

I've had more than one person suggest that the religion in my books might be Christianity (it isn't) and one even went so far as to state that the god in them must be the Christian god because no others gods exist (again, it isn't). You can sort of see the logic if you screw your eyes up tight and spend an hour or two smashing your head into a brick wall... There is only one god. You have a god in your books. That god must be the Christian god. To be honest I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that one, except to back away slowly and try not to make eye contact.

The church and a few individual priests do get a bit of a bashing in my books and maybe that's where all of this is coming from. As it happens I'm more or less agnostic but I don't see how this is especially relevant to my writing. Whether I personally am anti-religion or not isn't something I put into the books. The religion in the books is there for a very specific reason that is central to the overall story of the trilogy, not because of any of my personal views. I think you could argue that everyone who writes has some aspect of their personality that passes over into their work, but this isn't a constant.

Patrick Rothfuss has been accused of hating poetry. His main character, Kvothe, spends a lot of time ridiculing poetry and poets in general but Rothfuss himself has said that he enjoys it. If writers all possessed the traits of their literary characters we'd be in some serious trouble, imagine how agents would have to cope?! Robert Harris would only communicate with his via email and E.L James's agent would be in hospital suffering from exhaustion!

Seriously what is with this? Mark Lawrence has been lambasted more than once for the multitude of supposed graphic rape scenes that are throughout his books (they're not actually there), and again for the lack of women in main character roles (they ARE actually there) as if his writing represents his personal beliefs and thus are promoting some kind of ideology. Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth), judging by his books, is obsessed with rape and S&M. Stephen King is apparently responsible for the corruption of an entire generation (probably two by now, thinking about it) and merely being seen with his books was enough to make some people label you a satanist (okay maybe it was only grannies in the bible belt who were a little confused).

I'm rambling now and I suppose my point is just this, it's fiction! Just because we wrote it doesn't mean that's what we actually believe, it's just what the story needed at that point! I'll confess I don't understand this because it doesn't carry over to other mediums. Actors don't get abuse for portraying a particular role. Actors can portray any number of hideous characters and nobody (sane) imagines that they are like this off screen/stage. We're not that different, actors and writers, We both lie for a living... Buy the books, enjoy the films but don't assume the personality you are seeing is a real one... except for the parts about the fae of course. They're completely real.