by Shelton Bumgarner
I am — by nature — a generalist. I know a little bit about a wide spectrum of things. So, I am often fascinated by people who know a lot about one thing. I also find the passion that things like Saturday Night Live can generate very intriguing. There’s only been one time in my life when I felt that much passion for a group of people and that was in Seoul. With that in mind, I’m at least trying to lean into that experience as the cornerstone of the novel I’m developing.
It’s a prime example of “write what you know” in action. But there’s a fine balance between writing about a fictionalized version of a place that you love and writing a lot of verbiage that many people in your potential readership will find tedious, at best. But I think if I really go into what makes the place special and how it has come to change the lives of the people connected to it and the community around it, then I think potential readers will enjoy it once they get into it.
One thing I have to really think about it establishing that such a place actually believable exists in the first place where I am determined to put in in my universe. My hope is that if I write about the place with a lot of obvious love that that will come across on the page and people will get into it. Or, put another way, I don’t care. This novel is for me and fuck you you don’t like it. Wink.
The universe I’ve created is very detailed and well thought out. Extremely so. Like, we’re talking Star Wars levels of backstory on the interaction between characters. But that comes more from how personal the story is than anything else. In a way, the plot of this novel is me running around emotionally naked. That is, of course, if you understand the inspiration for the people and places I’m writing about.
One fun part of all of this is having a vast amount of information that I have to explain to the reader in a simple, cogent fashion that makes the premise of the novel believable, even though, in a sense, it follows some of the conventions of science fiction. You might call the novel a “political science fiction novel.” I have referred to it as a “political fairy tale guilty pleasure for woke Park Slope moms” in the past. But I’m not a woman and don’t pretend to know anything more about women than any other man. I’m not an “ally,” but I am good-natured and empathetic. I try not to get too wrapped up in how you might suggest I have a vested interest in the patriarchy given that I am a member of it. Meh. I generally believe the more agency and happiness women have on a personal level the better off society is. If that makes me some sort of feminist “ally,” so be it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like T&A and won’t try to chat a woman up with sex on my mind if she’s hot.
I have numerous political views that don’t fit the narrative advocated by Blue Check Liberals on Twitter. Fuck that and fuck them. I’m my own person and I know what I believe. But I am generally compassionate and empathetic — or at least try to be.
You can’t please everyone.