I'm currently editing A Golden Forever, the sequel to Faerie. Like all good sequels, it also stands alone as a book the reader could enjoy without reading any of the other books in the series. And yes, when I say I'm editing, what I mean is, I'm re-editing. Or perhaps, re, re, re editing. Does any writer ever feel finished with the work? Anyway, in the course of editing this time with the intent to e-publish, part of the story causes me a little concern.
Golden tells Viv's story of going to California's gold rush to fund a future independent of any man. Of course, the Earl who sends her to California has his own agenda. The Earl is using Viv as bait to reel back his son, Colton. The son is a bastard half-breed who was abandoned once by the father as a child, and betrayed as an adult. The P.C. issue arises with the son.
Troubled heros can be trouble for writers too. Colt was the result of his father's affair with an Indian maiden during the father's tour of the American west. Colt's mother marries a tribe warrior who doesn't much like the half-breed who reminds him and his wife daily of the English noble the wife gave herself to and still loves. Colt pays for that as a child and after his mother dies has to sell his body to widowed squaws for food and shelter. Later, in England, he sells his body to ladies who want to sleep with the savage in order to get invited to their social affiars and to gain acceptance to the ton.
The stories about the tribe are rooted entirely in my own imagination. I selected a real tribe, the Crow, as the one to which Colt's band belongs. Why the Crow? It made sense geographically in the story. I also researched the tribe and found they were much more open about sex and sexual issues than many other bands. I consider that philosophy very positive. I also consider it important to the story because it had to be a tribe where the women would have had enough power and self-esteem to take charge of their sexual needs - even if they did it in a way that hurt Colt. Let's face it, they also helped Colt because he survived. Survival isn't always free and it isn't always easy.
That's where my fears about the P.C. police come in. I proudly have Cherokee blood in my lineage. My eldest son has golden skin year-round thanks to that part of our heritage. We've taken the kids to the Reservation museum and the Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina. The children have been taught to respect all of their heritage. But some folks of Indian heritage object to things like names of sporting teams. It's not an attitude we really understand in the South and none of that P.C. mania has ever taken hold here.
Many symbols of history and heritage hold mixed messages. In my state, South Carolina, we honor those symbols for the heritage and leave the meaning to the beholder. I worry that some of the groups may take aim at Golden and see only part of the message. Even so, I decided to leave the Crow tribe as the Crow tribe. I thought of making up a name - perhaps the Eagle Tribe - but in its own way, that seemed more disrespectful. I admire the open acceptance embodied in Crow principals. I wish the South had more of a grasp of accepting rather than judging, of opening doors rather than closing them.
I'll put a disclaimer at the beginning of my book, advising the reader of my creative license, and urging them to visit the Reservations, study the tribe and hopefully come to respect its many accomplishments and achievements as well as its history of acceptance. The P.C. police may come for me when I post the book, but I hope they won't. I hope they will understand that the dangers of fighting creativity and literary vision far outweigh any benefits.
A Golden Forever should be posted -- or published -- soon at e-tailers around the web. Check it out and let me know what you think. I suspect that how readers see the story may be as varied as how readers see some of those monuments and symbols.
History is as individual as the people who made it. One size doesn't fit all.