I'm browsing my email one day and recieve a review request from author Megan Martin to read her book. I'm excited until I see that it's set in a concentration camp between a Jewish prisoner and Nazi doctor.
Immediately I'm like:
But I try not to judge too much.
So in order to not be a complete dick about it, I browse the first couple of pages, but in the back of my head I'm like (you lost me at concentration camp).
So I read. . .and read. . . and read. . .an hour later I'm emailing her to do a guest post on how to incorporate a romance around a controversial topic.
She obliged because she rocks! So here's her post, but before you check it out. . .check out her book that BLEW MY MIND!
|GIVEAWAY OF EBOOK COPY AT THE END OF THE POST|
Short Book Summary: When captured by the Nazi's, Sarah finds herself in a concentration camp that not only brings her closer to death...but closer to love.
In the Romance genre we find a lot of heroes with violent, questionable, and sometimes terrifying backgrounds that have shaped who they are (especially in paranormal romance). Lots of heroes (and heroines too) have done things like enslave whole groups of fictitious people and murder those they feel are less than them.
We, as readers, are rather forgiving of these horrifying actions. Yet it is harder for people to stomach characters who are involved in mass enslavement that took place in real life, especially in the last one-hundred years.
Why is this?
This question is easy—it's okay to subjugate people who don't really exist. Nobody really got hurt, therefore the hero(ine) in question is allowed his/her happily ever after.
When I tell people that my book is set in a concentration camp and is about a relationship between a Jewish female prisoner and a Nazi doctor, it never fails—their brows furrow in confusion before they say something along the lines of 'wow how did you manage that?
I never take offense to this because this was a part of the reason that I wrote the book—to write a character the world has already deemed unworthy, unwanted, and in many cases hated.
With this being said it leaves a very important question—How is it possible to write about such a controversial topic? How can a writer redeem the seemingly unredeemable without losing the historical values of the time period? (I suppose that's two questions, but they are both important, lol.)
I've thought a lot of this and compounded my answers to these questions into five tips.
1. Put yourself in their shoes. I did this repeatedly while I was writing Aurel's character in Forbidden Angel. It is easy to label someone a monster when you don't know exactly what they've been through. The strength to stand against a power like Hitler is one that even the strongest of men would not have entertained.
2. Don't let the oppressed forgive too easily. It is always important to remember that the character being persecuted shouldn't forgive the transgressor as if nothing happened. Sarah, the Jewish prisoner in Forbidden Angel, struggles with her hatred and feelings for Aurel the entire book. The world still hasn't forgiven the Nazis for what they did decades ago. A character in this situation wouldn’t easily forgive either.
3. Research. A controversial topic like the Holocaust is one that has been studied for years. There are tons of resources out there to look into. Like any historical work of fiction it is important to get all of your ducks in row.
4. Watch out for offensive slang. While staying true to a time-period is key, it is also important to avoid over using slang words that readers may find offensive. It is okay to use these words a few times in your work, but over use may turn readers away.
5. Stay true to the time-period. This ties in with research. It is important to express the struggles and hardships that each character had to experience in this terrible situation. It is hard from every aspect and isn't something that should be expressed lightly.
Forbidden Angel is my first published work and I learned most of these tactics while writing and editing it. I hope this helps all of you out in some way! Happy writing!
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