I typically don’t read books while I’m writing one of my own. Call it undue influence because yes, I am influenced by books which I read and enjoy. So for me to pick up a book and read it from start to finish in two days while writing “Darkling” is a strange occurrence. Nonetheless, I went ahead and read Moira Greyland’s biopic, “The Last Closet”, in the midst of writing a book and coaching two varsity basketball games.
And I can feel the influence already on my writing.
When I first came up with “Wraithkin”, I envisioned a society that had just freed itself from a tyrannical overlord and religious persecution merely two hundred years before, much like the American Revolution. However, in this society where people were born perfect and without flaws, what happened to those who were predisposed to cancer or other illnesses? What did their life mean after that point? Well, I figured they would be cannon fodder for an ever-increasing war machine. Waste not and want not, if you catch my drift. “Sure, Jason, okay… but then who are they always fighting?”
Aliens, duh. Well, later other star nations. But aliens, man!
But after reading Moira’s book I started asking different questions, especially about homosexuality and heterosexuality. Many friends who are gay or bisexual tell me that they did not have a choice, that they were genetically born this way. I used to just nod and go about it, because it didn’t matter to me if they chose to be homosexual or were born that way. Now though, since I’m writing about a really screwed up society that puts values on perfection over imperfection, my mind is asking “So if you are born this way, and that means you cannot or will not procreate due to a lack of attraction to the opposite sex, which is what the human body is designed to do, then does that make a homosexual genetically inferior?”
That’s a tough question. I mean, I want to say “no”, but the inability to procreate due to a lack of attraction to the opposite sex means that your genetic line will not continue, and not by choice. This is a design flaw, if one looks at it from a certain point of view.
In “Wraithkin” I almost touched on the topic in the book but changed it during a round of editing. I was a coward and didn’t want any potential controversy (this was back in 2013 when I was still a young author just breaking into the business… if I had known then what I know now about what happens to me in 2015, I’d have just left it all in and walked off into the sunset with two middle fingers in the air). In “Darkling”, though, now I really want to touch on the idea that homosexuality is genetic, which means that nature made a flawed product. I want to use this in both a good light and a bad one, with conflict on both sides being driven apart by this.
Overstepping boundaries? Depends on who you ask. I can see some of my friends absolutely flipping out over this and cutting off all contact and basically burning me in effigy. I can also see some of my friends nodding along and saying “That’s an interesting thought experiment.”
I love my sister dearly. She is fairly openly gay and happily married to a nice woman (I think; I’ve actually never ever spoken to her spouse… I’m a horrible big brother). I don’t know when she figured it out, but I had it pegged when she was about 12 or 13. I can’t even tell you how I knew. It just seemed like she was… gay. *shrug* She wasn’t butch, didn’t wear Doc Martins (I’d have stolen them anyways because I was all into grunge around that point in my life) and simply abhorred dating.
She was also the one who was the most like me due to her bookwormishness (new word!) and her smarts (she’s the smarter one. This was decided by all the siblings in a vote). Is she going to have kids one day? I honestly don’t know. She is, after all, still fairly young (30? 31?) and they HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY to do things now. In that same thought train, though, if this were a pre-industrial revolution era, would she have children even though she has no interest in being with a man? If not, wouldn’t that make her genetically flawed due to her homosexuality?
In nature, the female of the mammalian class of animals rarely get a choice in the mating process. Sure, bears fight to see who gets the shot, but the female will go ahead and procreate with the victor. Plus mammals have a “heat cycle” which changes depending on the animal. Human women? Monthly ovarian cycle, but not a real “heat cycle” (John Ringo really hit the nail on the head in “Live Free or Die” when he used the Johannesburg Virus on humanity), so human females can procreate at any time and not seasonally. If a woman has endometriosis and it is left untreated, then the woman will have a harder time producing children, yes? Would this imperfection be considered a genetic flaw? More than likely. In the Kin Wars Saga, this means that the woman is genetically Imperfect and will be sterilized so that she can’t have kids with genetic imperfections, and this flawed family tree will not be able to be passed down into future generations. The society is saved, yay! Would they do the same for a homosexual man who could not perform for a woman to procreate if homosexuality was something he was born with?
I hate asking these questions because it takes away from the story and threatens to turn the book into grandstanding. At the same time, though, I wanted to get this into the head of the reader. If homosexuality is a choice, then there is nothing genetically wrong with it, correct? That means that, according to the rules of nature, a man or woman can be emotionally with a member of the same sex but, when the time comes, create life with a member of the opposite sex.
But if it is genetic, and they are unable to procreate, then that means that they failed nature. This is a genetic flaw, and Imperfects must be scrubbed…
This is dark stuff. This is also why I don’t read other people’s stuff when I’m working on my own.