No torture of children or animals, that is a frequent rule magazine publishers state in their submission guidelines. I don’t want to peer into the minds of child molesters as they commit their crimes. I don’t want to learn a sympathetic understanding of parents who consistently neglect and beat their children, as I’ve seen more than enough of that in my work as an RN.
However, we have an Amber Alert in this country for a reason. I’d thought crimes against children were under-reported. When the clergy sex scandal broke, the number of such crimes was staggering. Runaway teens or even teens who are lost are in serious danger of being forced into prostitution and drug addiction.
Fiction doesn’t seek to educate. Its primary goal is to entertain. How can crimes against children be entertaining?
As well as being entertained, I want to know how characters react in different situations, including distasteful ones. I want to take the same trip authors take as they explore characters who’ve survived stress and shock. I want the characters and situations to tie into the society in which I live. I don’t believe novels that explore the subsequent lives of traumatized children are always cathartic outpourings of survivors of such trauma.
Amy McKinnon’s TETHERED, Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER, and Laura Lippman’s WHAT THE DEAD KNOW take the reader into the minds of adults who suffered as children. I can believe traumatized children don’t always repeat the abuse they suffered. Perhaps the suspicion that they might makes them hide their pain and the more fortunate shun them.
I wouldn’t necessarily pick up these books or books with a similar subject matter before my flight in economy class. There’s no shortage of books with lighter subject matter in the airport book store so I’m not forced to deal with difficult social issues.
It’s interesting that children and animals are grouped together. Both lack many legal rights and they don’t vote. Naturally, publishers can make whatever rules they wish about what they are willing to publish and I respect that. Not all readers are looking all the time for a constant diet of characters functioning in bubbles of security who never challenge what we thought we knew about the world and our neighbors.
What do you think about novels that cover difficult subject matter?
WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Sasscer Hill on 5/18 and Carolyn Mulford on 5/25. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.