If you tell someone you wrote a book, the next words you’ll hear are: “What’s it about?” (This is good for you to know if you’re lying about having written a book, so you can craft a basic plot line to accompany the lie.)
When people ask what Aret is about, I say, “Dragons.” If they don’t run away, I continue with: “It’s the first book in a fantasy trilogy. It’s about a girl who finds out on her twenty-first birthday that she’s actually a dragon on another world.”
That is, in a way, what Aret is about. It’s at least the basic premise under which I began writing the story. But really, Aret is about relationships and social evolution, subjects that have felt particularly pertinent throughout this miserable election year.
In case you’re wondering, she voted for Smaug.
I wrote Aret during the 2012 election season, and while that one seemed ugly and contentious at the time, it was like a moonlit stroll on the beach compared to this year’s. As luck would have it, 2016 was the perfect year to release Aret, what with its themes of hope, strife, fear, and forgiveness. I think that’s why so many people who don’t read fantasy like the book. The ideas resonate with them, regardless of the subject matter.
Two of Aret’s central characters – the Red and Blue Matriarchs – reflect a few of the author’s flagrantly disparate personality traits. The Red Matriarch is calm and reasonable, while the Blue Matriarch is more like: “HOW DARE YOU DEFY ME? I WILL DESTROY YOU!” So while the Red Matriarch understands that true, lasting social change comes about through diplomacy and relationship-building, the Blue Matriarch would make the counterargument: “If all of your enemies are dead, there’s no need to build relationships with them.”
“Ima pop you right in your stupid face!”
But we can’t make everyone who disagrees with us just disappear, despite what the Blue Matriarch would have you believe. Many monstrous dictators have attempted that tactic over the years with predictably horrific results. In the case of our country’s current circumstances, when the winners are declared and the dust settles, we’re all still going to be stuck here together, and it sure would be nice if we could coexist with more grace and dignity than we’ve demonstrated over the past year.
As we move forward into the tremulous atmosphere following this hideous election season, I vow to do my personal best to emulate the Red Matriarch, not the Blue. There’s a good reason why a critic of an early Aret draft wrote “Blue bitch!” in the margin of a Blue Matriarch scene. While stewing in righteous fury and violent revenge fantasies can feel really satisfying in the moment, the fact is this: the Blue Matriarch is an asshole. Let’s not be like her. No one likes jerks, and acting like one weighs on our hearts.
Here’s to a happier, healthier, more hopeful, red-matriarchal future for us all. Cheers.