What struck me in thinking specifically of my novels and stories was of how many of them deal with racism. Sometimes with intent, but often just a product of ideas percolating out of the subconscious and ending up on the pages.
The only time I actively wrote a book with an intentional undercurrent of commentary on racism in the USA is my book THE EMISSARY. I wanted to write about the subject in a way that I could treat with it over the course of a story in a horror novel. What I wanted to do was actively write a book with an overt delivery of the problem of racism in the US.
But many of my other books have dealt with some aspect of racism, which I think is far and away the most awful part of our national history. It’s always there, and won’t go away, existing persistently decade after decade since the times before our nation even existed.
Years ago I was writing zombie novels. And while on the Internet to promote one of those novels I went from bulletin board to bulletin board to make connections and see how I should go about promoting my books there. What I thought I would find I did not, and what I did discover horrified me. Pretty much every public bulletin board devoted to zombie fiction onto which I logged was weighted heavily with racists, many of them neo-Nazis. These guys would post links and you’d find yourself looking at boards promoting hatred and white-race “superiority”. I saw vile imagery and threats of violence and extermination spelled out in plain terms.
Frankly, after that, I didn’t want to write anymore zombie novels and decided not to engage in promotions of my work on any of those boards. When one of my publishers asked me to write them another one I at first refused. But then I recalled a short story that I’d written that had later been produced as a comic story. The idea of turning it into a novel had occurred to me for years but I had never followed through. I agreed to an advance and set about writing it.
Thus was born the expansion into novel of my short story THE NEW ECOLOGY DEATH. I thought about what I wanted to do with it. I never once mentioned racism or anything directly related to it. I set about burying any mention of anything attached to the subject in an atmosphere both cold and hopeful, and also cautionary.
But two things that I actively did was make all of the principle characters Jews. And I took guns and gun-play totally out of the picture so that I would rob the reader of what I have come to think of as gun-porn. There is the reference to distant gunfire once in the book, and an actual scene with a firearm is played out near the very end with unintended consequences. I specifically set out to create a zombie novel with almost none of the plot elements that most racists lust for in their zombie novels. I made it so that the tables are turned and the setting is one in which zombies are all but defeated and are only a marginal and fading threat. The main characters are a Jewish family. There are almost no guns, and none of the jargon that gives gun-loving racists a specific thrill (which I am convinced is sexual).
It was the worst-selling book I ever wrote. I don’t know how many copies it sold, but not many. It never came anywhere near to earning back its advance. The only feedback I ever got on it was from a couple of racists raging about how there were no guns in the book.
Someday I’d like to get it back into print. Of all of the books I’ve written, I can think of nothing in it that I’d want to rewrite. It was pretty much everything I wanted it to be and which I set out to do. So getting it back into print would be easy on a technical basis (no rewrites). I’d just need to figure out how to get it into the hands of the right audience.
|THE EMISSARY. A horror novel wherein racial and sexual hatred manifests itself as lycanthropy.|
|DEADLOCKED, a novel with major elements of race, philosophy, struggle, and hope.|
|My out-of-print THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH. Returning to print one of these days. Maybe this year. (But maybe not.)|