Tag Archives: race

Hitting send on the query…

It’s hard to believe that what started as an image I couldn’t shake would become this novel years later. Become STANDS ALONE.

They were feet. What I saw. What I felt were feet running. It was night and the ground was a tough terrain but these feet knew how to move over it. Through it. With it. They were women’s feet. Black women’s feet.

I didn’t who they belonged to, where they were running to or who they were running from, but they were running swiftly.

Then I had an image of tall prairie grasses that sway and dance in the wind. Walking through them, tenderly touching the wild flowers was a woman. Then she ran. She had long black hair flying out behind her.

These images stuck with me until I discovered my main character. Tanner Stands Alone. A Minneapolis detective. Half Black, half Native with warrior women for ancestors. And they rise from her body to fight a white supremacist who starts a race war.

As more images and scenes filled in the blanks, ya know the ones, in-between present and somewhere out there, where my imagination brews, I felt something stronger with this story. Something larger.

I sketched out a pilot for it and wrote it summer of 2017. It was okay. Just barely okay. But the story was big.  I hired the brilliant Jessica Blank to read it to help with some development. As we discussed it, she asked if I ever thought of writing the novel. This question made me look at the story in a different way. An even larger but glorious way. At the same time, I was itching to write a novel. I had some chapters of a different story. I had begun to work that prose writing muscle again but whenN November arrived, I did NaNoWriMo and started with a blank page, writing STANDS ALONE the novel.

So many drafts later, I’m here now. I have the query letter, the synopsis and the database.

I woke at 4 am with visions in my head of typing up the emails, of cutting and pasting in the pages, of hitting send. I got up and got ready. Which means I spent some time on Facebook. I played with a different TV project. I cleaned the bathrooms. I pulled weeds in my front lawn. I baked bread. I showered and made myself presentable…for…my computer??  I put on my power Parshall, N.D. t-shirt. (Yes, I’m related to the Parshalls the small town on the Rez is named after). I put on my power turquoise and some 80’s music (Blondie, The Cars, Madonna), lit some sage and a candle for my mom because I really want to call her and tell her what I’m doing with this story. With this novel. And I want to hear her voice tell me how excited she is for me. I want hear her wish me luck. So I’m gonna take a couple quiet minutes to hear her spirit say that. And then…here we go.

Creating a White Supremacist Character

If there’s at least a tiny part of ourselves in every character we create, then what does that mean when it comes to creating bad guys? To creating the narcissist? The evil? To creating the one who wrecks havoc and tears through whatever and whoever is in their path?

Of course, writing to the humanity of these characters is the goal. That’s what gives them flesh. Finding their underbelly, exposing it, and then healing is a goal. Maybe. Destroying them? That’s a righteous goal, too.

I’m thinking about this as I prepare to go back into my novel. It’s been with beta readers and now I’m ready to enter this world again, which means I have to pull up a chair at the table headed up by a white supremacist. Of all my characters, my bad guys, and there’s plenty of them; I write crime suspense so my bad guys do heinous things, creating Raimond Davies has been the toughest.

In Stands Alone, my novel about a Mixed Blood cop who takes on a white supremacist, their ancestors are the soldiers in this war. Which means I wrote their histories, too. I know who Raimond’s father was and what he did to him. I know who his grandma was and how filthy and mean she was. I know who Raimond was as a small boy at the mercy of the adults in his life and how that set him on a course of hatred.

I think that in the many hours I’ve spent with this story, and the many more to come, my own ancestors settle on the loveseat in my office. Native men and women who fought the destructive forces of white men for their families and their tribes. African women who endured unimaginable atrocities and yet never stopped fighting for their freedom. They keep the sage burning, the drums pounding as they wrap their arms around me, whispering that this is the story that I need to tell. That only I can tell. They say it’s okay. That I’m safe from the horror on the page, from the horror in my imagination. They tell me I’m honoring the fight. Their fight.

My fight.

But damn.

Too pissed to write…

I just may be. Yes, I’m writing this to get some of these feelings, these big emotions out, but I’m well aware of how I can’t actually get to the page to write creatively. To work on the stories, give voice to the characters I’ve committed to but now I have to ask them to wait. Stand by.

I’m pissed. Life can be truly shitty. For so many of us. For so many.  For the people who are oppressed, those hated because of gender, race, religion and who they love.  I’m pissed for those who fear the world outside their windows and those who fear the monsters in their homes. I am pissed that this country is a shit storm of powerful men exerting their hate on others through legislature or lack thereof.

I’m pissed that the ebb and flow of feeling helpless and rising to the fight is thrashing my poor mind and body around so much so, I’m close to losing my way on the waves.

I’m pissed that the emotion of anger has its root in fear and pain. And that maybe I’m pissed first because I can’t bare to feel the pain down below the surface of my brown skin and I know that’s a false belief because I can still feel it. Saying it isn’t so isn’t truth.

I’m pissed that grief is a mutherfucker. I’m pissed that my mother is dead. And my dear friend died this week. And children are scared. And women are crying. And I can’t eat chocolate the way my heart craves because my full and ill body system is exhausted from just trying to carry me through the day, through the dark times.

I’m pissed that my anger is keeping me from the page because real life is raging so much louder than their stories and try as I might, I can’t find my way out of this world into the other.

I’m pissed that I’m still pissed. And feel like I have been for years. For centuries.