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Originally posted as a guest post

Authors have a superpower that oftentimes gets overlooked. They write stories that touch the hearts and minds of people. They have the ability to shift a reader’s perception, a way of thinking, or the way they feel about a topic.

That might seem common-sense, and it is, but when you talk to authors about their stories, it’s amazing to see how many don’t realize the power they hold in their hands.

I was helping a fellow author edit her book the other day, and she was discussing a topic that was very important, but she feared it was controversial. So, instead of dealing with it, she pushed it under the rug and felt as though the character handled it poorly. It felt really immature to me.

So, I mentioned that to her, and she told me why she handled it this way. She didn’t want to upset people.

Okay. Great. Understood.

However, here’s the thing. As a reader, you’ve invited me into your mind, your heart, and your soul–if my writing is good enough to penetrate all those layers. I show you, through my characters, how you could handle a situation. I allow you, the reader, to experience things you’ve never lived through. I allow you, the reader, to take charge of your life, to say what you always wanted to, but felt powerless to do utter out loud. I allow you to fight back, to stand up, to take charge. I allow you to dole out the hard love.

And then, if I’m good enough, I empower you, the reader, to do that.

That’s a pretty incredible super power, if you ask me.

The big crisis in Whiskey Witches is something that we all see happening, but no one really talks about, and that’s custody battles. The “losing parent” is always seen as a bad guy, and if the mother loses her kid, she…did something unspeakably horrible.

But what isn’t talked about is all the horrible, emotional, brutally horrific things that happen outside the courtroom. The winner isn’t always the “good guy.” Sometimes–a lot of times–they’re just the bigger bully. And the loser is shamed into silence. When we don’t talk about an issue, we empower the other side.

Now, some parents lose their kids for very valid reasons. They do. They are the reason there are custody battles in the Courts of Law in the first place. But…not all do deserve that, and none of them talk about it, and it hurts like hell. These parents often lose visitation rights–though they could push it through the courts, it harder on the kids and then the kids don’t want to see the other parent, so it’s a lose-lose situation. They lose phone call privileges, hugs, kisses, I love yous, calls on your birthday, the ability to talk to them on their birthday. They lose holidays–or are bullied into “having the holiday that’s easier to deal with” because that’s always a great idea.

We authors have the superpower to discuss hard-line topics like this in a safe place. Fiction. The setting is fake. The characters are fake.

But the lessons are real. There’s real power in a book. Even a fiction one.

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