I'm running myself ragged, sorting out all manner of things before I'm off to Moscow. At least my visa should show up tomorrow. Three days now to sort out the stuff I have to write - long hours, stuff coming in at the last minute, but unlike last month, I'm mostly sane and in control. I'm still balking at the amount of work that needs doing.
And of course the muses aren't leaving me alone. They are more insistent when I'm stressed and the schedule is tight. I have Kendras sitting in my ear, commenting on whatever else is going on. Let's say a cynical mercenary is damn funny company, but laughing out loud when there's no external stimulus for it gets you strange looks from the sales team. Just saying. I always pretend I got a funny email.
I'm also "casting" characters. That woman over there looks a bit like the Lady Protector's step mother. That banker over there - lose the pinstripe and the spiky hair, and cast him as Puppy or Stick. I'm more conscious of black men, too (and here I am, cruising for a beating from the "white privilege bashing crowd" - I shouldn't even go there, not even in my thoughts, let alone on a blog). I'm just saying I'm more aware. I guess my empathy gets a fine-tuning when I'm close to a character.
And of course it's crazy to write black when you're white, but it's also crazy to write anything that you're not, and when I think about that, I wouldn't have written any of my books that don't have journalists or some kind of analyst or keyboard mercenary as a character. So, that's all of them. I'm still conscious of the racism debate (having been called a racist because I didn't have any non-white characters), and I think it's one of those questions that you can only answer wrong ("Are you still beating your wife.").
In this case, Kendras is black. So is his officer. And the officer's mother. I can't do "all black people" justice, just like I can't do all women, men, bankers or soldiers justice. But I can do one character justice, and if that character happens to be black or disabled or whatever it is that I haven't tackled before, then that's cool. But that's not what the character IS. That's part of him, but not the whole thing.
And now I've moved very far out and stuck my head out (granted, several months after the "white privilege" discussion swept the intarwebs, but it's bound to come back). All in all, I write fiction, not philosophically treat or even solve the Big Issues of Humanity. That's not my remit or intention. Still means that discussion is bound to come up once I release "Scorpion" into the wild. I guess they'll stick it into "Inter-Racial", even though Kendras is black in a different way. He has blue eyes. Which is part of the plot rather than a cop-out, but I just know that people will call it a cop-out. But, in any case, the most awesome character in the book is black. (No blue eyes).
Slavery is a fact of life and colour-blind. I even think that the two warriors in "Scorpion" are black because the scorpion species in question is black - but I may be making stuff up after the fact.
If I attack anything or anybody, then it's the priesthood, but you need a villain, and that particular shot, while pretty cheap (unelected, hierarchical, greedy, parasitic cult based on invisible forces and superstition that runs the kingdom behind the scenes), nobody who knows me should be surprised by my stance on religious cults that make other people miserable.
Today at least, there's no venom. I'm too strung out to feel very strongly about anything - or muster much negative energy. Life's looking very fragile again, too many people are ill or had really terrible news. Some people have had great news, too. Me, I just have to allow this wave to wash over me and breathe once the water's gone.