Why this weekend’s reading has got me writing.

Longstanding readers will know that I generally sign off a year’s blogging on Christmas Eve and resume around January 2nd. They’ll be wondering what’s happened, given this is my first post of 2017. Well, I simply haven’t known what to say.

Charlatans and crooks have got hold of the reins of power in the UK and the US. Our alleged leaders have been lurching from one glibly aspirational sound-bite to the next, with no clear plan for anything and even less understanding of the complex issues they’re facing. Insulated by wealthy and privilege, they’re going to make narrow-minded, dogmatic decisions which will have a devastating impact on ordinary people’s lives. All of which is sufficiently apparent in the mass media without this particular blog adding to the chorus of despair.

Doing book promo stuff instead? That’s been feeling like saying ‘well, yes, I know the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, but while you’re waiting for the sky to fall in, how about an enjoyable read?’ Just for me, please note. I’ve been seeing other people’s book stuff and thinking, ‘how nice, something positive for a change’. Logic does not necessarily apply in these circumstances.

So what’s changed? The Women’s March. All the women’s marches, all around the world, from Antarctica to Alaska and everywhere in between. Reading all those placards; witty, funny, furious, uncompromising. Seeing so much support for all women, of all ages, regardless of race, religion, disability, cis and transgender alike. So much support from men, gay, straight, whatever. So much collective determination to defend human rights for all.

Seeing SF&Fantasy so evident in the images and quotes on display, from Princess Leia to Xena, Warrior Princess to Wonder Woman. Not to mention Doctor Who/Peter Capaldi and Gandalf/Sir Ian McKellen marching in London (carrying a poster of Jon Luc Picard/Patrick Stewart).

Within 24 hours though, I was also reading attempts to undermine that millions-strong opposition to selfishness, bigotry and greed. Possibly the most ludicrous tweet was that bloke claiming this wasn’t a spontaneous movement because ‘no one could have manufactured and distributed so many pink hats so quickly’. Er, there speaks a man who has no clue how quickly an experienced knitter can work with some spare yarn and a simple pattern freely available on the Net. But there have been more serious attempts. I’m highly suspicious of some of those trying to turn what are vital conversations on understanding intersectionality into blazing rows between one group and another. The selfish, bigoted and greedy have had so much success with ‘divide and rule’ of late.

Why wasn’t I marching myself? Because I have a stinking cold and the worst earache I’ve had since I was a kid. So I’ve been on the sofa, re-reading some Terry Pratchett – specifically Going Postal and Making Money. Both of those are books castigating selfishness, bigotry and greed. So much of Pratchett’s writing challenges us with the cold, hard truth that all that’s necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.

Meantime, my friend Catie is reading my Lescari Revolution books. She’s had a couple of questions that had me checking the text to make sure I was giving her the right answers. That’s reminded me I wrote a whole damn trilogy about ordinary people deciding they’re mad as hell about being trampled by the selfish and greedy and getting organised to oppose them. Okay, that’s fiction, but I researched enough real revolutions and popular uprisings throughout history before I wrote those books to know it can be done.

So it’s time to get writing again. Fiction. Non-fiction. Letters and emails to my elected representatives.

And let’s support all those writing the investigative and analytical journalism that will be crucial to exposing our so-called leaders’ lies and restoring democratic accountability.

Author: Juliet

Juliet E McKenna is a British fantasy author living in the Cotswolds, UK. Loving history, myth and other worlds since she first learned to read, she has written fifteen epic fantasy novels so far. Her debut, The Thief’s Gamble, began The Tales of Einarinn in 1999, followed by The Aldabreshin Compass sequence, The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, and The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy. The Green Man’s Heir was her first modern fantasy inspired by British folklore in 2018, and The Green Man’s Quarry in 2023 is the sixth title in this ongoing series. Her 2023 novel The Cleaving is a female-centred retelling of the story of King Arthur, while her shorter stories include forays into dark fantasy, steampunk and science fiction. She promotes SF&Fantasy by reviewing, by blogging on book trade issues, attending conventions and teaching creative writing. She has served as a judge for major genre awards. As J M Alvey, she has written historical murder mysteries set in ancient Greece.

8 thoughts on “Why this weekend’s reading has got me writing.

  1. Given the range this covers, I’m going to observe that:-
    1) Trumpence lost the popular plebiscite by ~3_000_000 votes but somehow “won” the electoral college anyway? {confused}
    2} Trumpence’s inauguration address did not have the highest “live attendance” ever (I have seen pictures) but may? have had the widest broadcast and interwebnet distribution ever (I don’t remember an earlier inauguration getting live BBC1 coverage, and just why did it given the existence of BBC News24 and BBC Parliament which are dedicated news and politics channels?)

    1. WRT electing US Presidents, the “popular vote” is essentially irrelevant. It’s the States that elect the President, with each State getting a number of votes weighted by population – the Electoral College. All the States have eventually converged on direct elections for their electors but it hasn’t always been that way.
      The argued advantage this system has is it makes candidates spend more effort on courting the less populous states rather than just the big cities on the two coasts. This affects campaign strategies, if you reran the 2016 election on the basis that the winner was going to be through the popular vote you might not necessarily get the same result as you’d expect from look at the totals this time around.

      1. Thanks for that; I honestly didn’t know this stuff.

        I’m not sure I agree para 2 now either, although it was probably true prior to the rise of the mass interwebnet and national broadcast media reporting of candidate rallies.

  2. Hitting the nail on the head again, Juliet.

    I’ve found it so hard to concentrate on creative stuff when it seems as though Washington has been transformed into Mordor. That the new incumbents of the most powerful offices in the world have chosen to begin their term with blatant lies beggars belief. Those of us who know our history cannot feel anything but a chill wind blowing.

    And on the other hand, yes, that extraordinary sight on our TV screens of millions of women – and some men – marching in opposition. There are yet hobbits in the world and they are legion.

    Extraordinary times.

  3. After watching events on the news for the last year, my next book has somehow ended up with a theme about how progress can go backwards, and battles have to be fought again.

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