I’m Afraid I Saw This Coming.
In 2019 I wrote a series about a global viral pandemic, MAGA insurrectionists and Christian extremists targeting allies for racial justice.
No One Wants to Be Right About Catastrophe
The Greeks knew that to see the future and be ignored is not a superpower; it is a curse. That was the crux Cassandra’s suffering. She was the oracle in Homer’s Iliad who tried to warn her fellow Trojans that their ruin was upon them in the gift of a giant wooden horse.
The Trojans welcomed it into the heart of their city anyway.
My 2019 novel, Reaper Moon, and the seven volumes that comprise it, was meant as fiction. Like so many writers before me, Octavia Butler being the most relevant, I looked at the trends roiling the US over the past ten years: the unchecked state violence against black and brown bodies; the unabashed white supremacy and white nationalism fed by grievance culture and toxic masculinity; the whitewashing of hate speech and hate crimes by Christian piety; political leaders leveraging all of it for their own personal gain — out of unchecked narcissism, cynical calculation, or both.
Add to that combustible mix my 20 years of experience in global health, which taught me that a pandemic viral outbreak was a matter of when, not if, and I had a plausible and compelling stage set for a series depicting a United States fractured by catastrophes.
Never did I dream my fictional world would be this close to reality.
What Fiction Writers Do
With a suspension of disbelief, effective world building, and a compelling plot, a fiction writer hopes to present a world that is both familiar and not, a world which is both recognizable and novel. By removing some cultural identifiers, adding in others and by dropping readers into the point of view of people they might not necessarily meet in real life, the goal (for this writer at least) is to foster empathy, to open up new perspectives, and to bridge divides.
In short, to build understanding, tolerance and peace.
Even in a book about war.