So, I had a great email exchange with a reader this week. It was one of those exchanges that helped me explain a little about my process. I have been granted permission to post the exchange, so I will. Then I’ll talk a little more about what it all means to me. I hope you all join in the discussion in the comments section. Keep it real and civil. No haters, yo!
“I finished reading your book Z Burbia. I enjoyed it and the humor in it. Bought your second book. I hope you will be open minded when I say using insults in your book such as “fat fuck”, “fat cow” continue to bring a perception that fat people are lazy, ugly, and worth less than others who are not fat. Just to put it out front, yes I am myself overweight. The cause doesn’t matter. Fat people are fighting a perception battle that impacts their lives and families. This perception negatively effects their relationships, jobs and how society treats them as a whole. You, I’m sure wouldn’t use derogatory wording with ethnic groups or physically or mentally disabled but people feel free to insult fat people for the sole crime of being over weight. I hope you understand my intent and that this isn’t a personal assault on you or your character. As an author you have the ability to shape our society. Thank you for taking the time to read this email. May you have success in all of your endeavors.
“Thank you for reaching out and for this thoughtful email.
With that said, I don’t want you to feel like I’m blowing you off because I’m not. I write YA and middle grade novels also (soon to be released by Permuted Platinum) and those novels do not have any of that in there. Well, one does, but as a learning lesson and the offender is chastised brutally by his peers. For kids, I set an example, for adults I let them handle life on their own. My wife and I are very aware of what we say to our children so they grow up with healthy ideas on body image. Where I shape society, and the future, is with my kids and how I act in real life.
Again, thank you for the email and please know that I am very aware of the impact every single word I use can have. Sometimes, I go for the negative impact because that’s where I want the gut punch to hit. And because I like to face my own personal demons head on!
The reader’s response to my response was very nice and we ended it on a great note.
I think some authors would get upset about this type of email. If it was a different subject, I may have also. But like I said in my response, I totally understand the weight thing. I get it. Took me a long time to come to turns with my own body image issues.
I don’t think authors should ever try to shape society with their writing. I just don’t. I think that compromises the work. Try too hard and it all sounds false.
But this is coming from a writer that currently specializes in pulp horror/scifi/adventure/thrillers. I’m here to entertain, not educate.
Ah, but if I offend, have I failed as an entertainer? That’s a question to ponder. If part of my audience doesn’t like something I’ve written because it hurts them on a personal level then am I doing my job?
Yes. Because you can’t please everyone all the time. It goes back to last week’s post. Read Rule 4 and 5. You’ll see what I’m getting at. As a writer, I have to know that some readers will not like my work, for whatever their reasons are. Dem’s da breaks.
One last thing I want to share is a quote from the reader’s response to my response. Here it goes: “I also thank you for changing how I will be reacting to fat remarks in books in the future.”
As readers, people have the power to change how they perceive novels and entertainment. Instead of getting all up in arms because their specific hangups/pet peeves/worries/phobias/fears/sacred cows have been mentioned/defamed/killed/cooked on the grill with a delicious vinegar based BBQ sauce, people should use these types of situations to start a dialogue and open discussions with others that don’t feel the same way.
That is how we change society, by taking our experiences and sharing them with others. If we are honest with ourselves then it is easier to be honest with others. And let’s face it folks, we could use a lot more honesty in this world, don’t ya think?
So sound off! Do you think authors have an obligation to reflect positive change in their novels? How about if the novel is more about the negatives of society and not the positives? Where does an author draw the line between appropriate and not appropriate?
If you have been reading my series of posts then you know I am not a fan of rules being imposed on writers. Or on anyone, for that matter. Not that I’m an anarchist, but, well…
Come on, folks! Tell me what gets to you. Tell me what you think writers are obligated to do. Or not.
Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.
Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.
Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.
He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).
I am very pleased to announce a couple of new releases!
First, allow me to introduce you to AntiBio. This novel is my return to military scifi. Now, a lot of my novels have military themes, elements, badass Teams ready to rip some bad guys apart, but this is the first one that isn’t a horror novel, but a straight up, high-tech, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, military science fiction novel.
Phew. That’s quite a mouthful.
They have failed.
All that’s left are the Strains- bacteria so strong they have brought the world to its knees.
But humanity has fought on, carving out pockets of civilization in a wasteland known as the Sicklands, creating the super high-tech Clean Nation cities.
And from the cities GenSOF has been born- Genetic Special Forces Operations. An elite military branch of the government that enlists men and women with specific genetic anomalies that allow them to be hosts to bacteria that even the Strains cannot defeat. Under the watchful eye of Control, GenSOF protects the Clean Nation cities from the ever encroaching Strains and the diseased inhabitants of the Sicklands.
But now Control has other plans for GenSOF, and possibly the Clean Nation cities themselves, and it is up to the operators of GenSOF Zebra Squad, and their cloned Canine Units known as bug hounds, to find out what those plans are.
Or die trying.
How ya like them apples? AntiBio is a crazy mix of Blade Runner and Damnation Alley. You’re gonna dig it!
Oh, what’s that? You want to know what’s coming next from me? Okey doke!
May: Mega 2 (Severed Press) and Little Dead Man (Permuted Press)
June: Kaiju Winter (Severed Press)
July: The Apex Trilogy audiobooks
And so much more! I’ll announce the rest of 2014 as soon as my schedule is nailed down.
Another Friday! Another Drabble! Another Party!
And there’s a night in there somewhere too.
Last week I gave you my “form” post. That was fun. What? Yes, it was. Don’t argue.
This week I will go straight to the drabble. Right after this message from our sponsor!
Do you like zombies? How about guns and guts and lots of swearing? Are you sure, because when I say lots of swearing I’m talking about the f-bomb being dropped 455 times in one novel? Can you handle it? CAN YOU?
Of course you can, which is why you are going to read Dead Team Alpha! Look at the cover! That’s some awesome waiting to jam into your eyeholes and make sweet, sweet love to your grey matter!
Dead Team Alpha: If the zombies don’t get you then the intense amount of cursing will!
Now to the drabble!
“Four, five, six,” the man says, slapping the bills into my palm.
“The deal was for 1200,” I frown, knowing the missing cash will come out of my ass if I walk into Scotty’s with only this.
“The deal was for pure ash,” the man says, grabbing up a bag of grey powder from the table. “This ain’t pure.”
“Sure it is,” I smile.
“Right,” the man says. “You think I’m a fool? I know cat ash.”
He cuts into the bag with a knife and snorts a small pile directly from the blade.
“Cat,” he says. “Not human. Cat.”
Disclaimer: Drugs are bad, m’kay?
What is that you ask? Do I have a new novel by Severed Press out there in the wild, wild world of literary bits and bytes? Why, yes, yes I do.
In the post-apocalyptic, zombie infested wasteland, there is one beacon of safety in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains: The Stronghold.
For decades, the inhabitants have fortified and defended the Stronghold from zombie hordes, building their society and culture on military precision.
And chosen from the best of the best is Denver Team Alpha. DTA is the elite strike force used to rescue survivors and refugees that have made it to the hellish wasteland of Denver below. But because of the unbelievable risks, and high mortality rate, DTA has come to stand for something else: Dead Team Alpha.
Now DTA will be put to the test as something far worse than zombies comes at them out of the wasteland.
Can ya dig it? I knew that ya could.
If you have read my Z-Burbia series then you’ll notice some links and connections between the two series. It was fun writing this, knowing the backstory already, but also inventing so many new things that have yet to be revealed. I love my job!
So, if you are so inclined, grab this puppy and have a read. It’ll be worth it, trust me.
Happy Friday, Y’all!
And yes, I did capitalize the “Y” in Y’all. You deserve it!
First, a great big thanks to everyone the helped spread the word with the $.99 Z-Burbia sale! Second, thank you to everyone that helps me in any way at all!
You people rock, therefore I salute you! Or something metal like that…
Now, as you can see from the title, tonight’s Drabble Party is DEAD MECH themed. You may or may not know that my very first novel, the one that begins the Apex Trilogy, is a Drabble Novel! The one and only (as far as I know)! A novel written in 100 word sections! EXCITING!
That’s why, down below those crazy asterisks, you will find not one, not two, not three, but NINE drabbles taken straight from DEAD MECH! Yes, I know I skipped five, six, seven, eight in that count, but I needed to save time. Which I totally have lost by writing this explanation! Dammit!
And why do this mighty excerpt extravaganza? Because it’s on sale by Severed Press for $.99! CRAZY!
Bisby came up firing, his plasma cannon glowing red hot with each successive blast.
Red Legs agilely dodged to the left, taking cover behind some debris. Chunks of ancient concrete and steel filled the air as Bisby followed Red Legs’ movement, trying to aim his blasts ahead of the deader.
“Fucking stand still!” Bisby yelled. And Red Legs did, using the girder to block several of the plasma blasts. The undead machine hurled the warped and melted chunk of metal straight at Bisby.
Bisby brought an arm up to deflect the attack, the collision forcing his mech to stumble backwards.
“Themopolous,” the Doctor answered, checking Steve’s vital signs.
“Doctor? I have General Powell on secure com. I hope you have a few minutes for to speak privately?”
Themopolous glanced at the doorway as Harlow came in, sleepily stretching. She motioned at her com ear and Harlow nodded, shooing her away and taking over Steve’s assessment. Dr. Themopolous left the infirmary quickly.
“Of course, sir. I’m almost to my office now.”
“Excellent, Doctor,” the General chimed in. “I have some great news regarding the newly developed retrovirus Dr. Lisbon informed you of.”
Themopolous froze and forced herself not to be sick.
Red Legs took immediate advantage of Bisby’s faltering and opened fire. Bisby took a graze to the right shoulder, the smell of scorched metal overpowering his environmental filters, as his mech slammed to the ground. He checked systems and saw he had been lucky, sustaining only minimal damage.
Quickly, Bisby tucked his mech back behind a half buried transport, hoping the shell still had enough structural integrity left to take the onslaught. Red Legs’s blasts began to slow, the concussions weakening.
Bisby checked his scanners and smiled. The deader was losing power.
“Okay,” he said aloud, “no more fucking around!”
“I’m ready to proceed, sirs,” Themopolous said, settling into her desk chair, apprehension clawing at her, forcing her to keep her voice even.
“Excellent. I’ll keep this brief as I know you are both busy,” the General said. “At approximately 1700 hours tomorrow, a supply train will be arriving with the inoculation for your base personnel.”
“Sir?” Capreze said, stunned.
“Yes, Commander. We have already inoculated all of the city/states and security outposts. Your base is the last on the list. We didn’t want to rush the process, seeing as the mechs are an integral part of our overall survival.”
Bisby rolled his mech to the right into a tight crouch. Red Legs circled, trying to get the advantage, its cannons glowing dully.
“Looks like you’re almost out of juice, deader!” Bisby taunted. Red Legs roared.
Bisby sprang, his mech launching into the air, twisting away from the cannon blasts. Three, two, one… The two mechs collided in a massive, ground-shaking crunch.
Bisby didn’t lose stride, tucking his mech’s left arm up under Red Legs and lifting it into the air. He brought the right arm down fast, smashing at Red Leg’s cockpit, hoping to crush the zombie pilot inside.
“Is there anything I need to have prepared, sir?” Themopolous asked, her voice audibly shaking now.
“No, no, we have everything taken care of. There will be two med techs to administer the inoculations and a small security force to accompany them.”
“I’ll be sure and have accommodations ready, sir,” Capreze said, picking up on Themopolous’ faltering poise, hoping the General hadn’t.
“Not necessary, Commander. They will only be there long enough for the techs to complete their work and for the train to refuel and re-supply.”
“Well, sir, the Doctor and I will have the base ready for them.”
Bisby raged as he pounded away at Red Legs’ cockpit hatch, so close he could smell the rot and decay.
The dead mech tried to ward off the blows, but it was no match for Bisby’s close combat skills. For every maneuver it tried to make, Bisby expertly countered, never letting the bludgeoning slack.
After only minutes, the dead mech’s power reserves gave up and the giant machine became dead weight. Bisby threw the deader to the ground and shoved his 50mm into the cracked cockpit, ready to vaporize the barely moving zombie pilot.
“Biz? Talk to me!” Rachel crackled.
“Now, I do need to verify all base personnel will be present,” General Powell said casually.
“Well, no sir. I have a team on a supply run to Foggy Bottom as we speak. They won’t return for a few days.”
“Their names, Commander?”
Capreze hesitated. This wasn’t protocol. There was no need for a First General to be inquiring about the roster; that was why he had an assistant.
“Pilot Masters, General Mechanic Rind, and our new Rookie.”
There was a slight pause. “Excellent, Commander. Thank you. I’ll let both of you return to your busy schedules.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Whatcha want, Rache?” Bisby asked, exhausted, trigger finger itching to depress and obliterate Red Legs’s zombie pilot.
“What do I want? WHAT DO I FUCKING WANT?” Rachel exploded. “I want to know that you aren’t deader food! That you are still alive and in one piece! That’s what I fucking want!”
Bisby took a deep breath and removed his finger from the trigger. “Yeah, I’m in one piece. Red Legs is out of commission.” Bisby undid his harness and opened his cockpit. “I’m descending now to retrieve the head for Themopolous.”
Bisby snorted and climbed down his mech.
If you dug that, and haven’t already purchased the ebook, then get to it!
Disclaimer: There are naughty words up there. But I guess it’s a little too late for the warning. My bad!