Friday, July 31, 2015

Samantha Bryant Guest Post: There is no Black and White

Hey everyone! I'm thrilled to day to present the first GUEST POST on this blog. This one comes from the lovely Samantha Bryant, author of GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE. Today she brings us a great transitional post between our series on villains and our series on heroes. Enjoy!

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” –Oscar Wilde

When I was a little kid watching Saturday morning cartoons, I didn’t wonder why the bad guys did bad things. They were bad guys. That was reason enough. Nor did I ever consider that my good guys were anything other than right. Obviously Popeye was meant to defeat Bluto, Dick Dastardly was meant to be caught in his attempts to cheat, Wile E. Coyote would never catch the Roadrunner, and The Hall of Justice would trump the Legion of Doom every single time. It couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t ever be otherwise.

One of the first signs that I was growing up probably came while watching Scooby Doo.  I think the episode was called “Jeepers, It’s the Creeper.” I had watched it before. I had watched them all before. But for some reason, this time, I wondered why Mr. Carswell was robbing the bank, what exactly he wanted the money for. In Scooby Doo, the villains were usually out for money, but we didn’t always know why they wanted it. I wondered if he might have had a good reason. It was my first recognition that it might not all be black and white after all.

These days, I’m not much of a believer in hard lines between right and wrong, in my life or in my fiction. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. Good and bad are difficult to clearly define in any absolute way. It’s all about where you’re standing. Life is ambiguous. Black and white blur together into shades of gray (probably way more than fifty shades, too). You do the best you can.

My favorite stories now feature characters that are riding that line, characters that might well find themselves on the wrong side of it someday. Heroes like Batman, who is definitely in touch with his darker side, but still acts for good. Like Wolverine. “I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t very nice.” Or villains like Magneto, who was more right than the rest of the mutants wanted to admit about how mutant-kind would be received in the world. Or Mr. Freeze, who really just wanted to save his wife.

I wanted a story that let female characters ride that same line, and had trouble finding one. Female heroines seem to be mostly paragons of virtue and hard moral reasoning. Female villains are obviously crazy. Like Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So I did.

So, when I began to write my own superhero novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, it should be no surprise that there’s a lot of moral ambiguity in the story. One of the big questions of the book is whether the ends justify the means, whether it really is okay to break a few eggs so you can have that omelette.

The villain of my piece, my mad scientist Dr. Cindy Liu, isn’t all bad. She began in a good place, trying to extend and improve the lives of women. But her motives became muddied with a desire to prove something, and then with revenge. She had a complicated history with the world of men, with romance, and friendship. She’s definitely walking that line and finding that her boundaries have become very very messy and blurred indeed.

The heroes aren’t all good either. Gaining superpowers didn’t instantly make all of them altruistic and willing to act in heroic and self-sacrificing ways.  They were women with lives and selfish interests to preserve. They, too, have complicated histories and desires and reasons to reassess the boundaries they have lived within up till now.

So, Going Through the Change isn’t a traditional superhero story.  It’s full of moral ambiguity, bad decisions, and learning opportunities (some of which are taken, some of which aren’t).  It’s also full of interesting superpowers and some pretty awesome fight scenes, if I do say so myself.  It’s been described as part women’s fiction part sci-fi/fantasy and that seems fair and accurate to me. 

It’s a superhero story with grown women at the heart. And the heart can be a dark and lonely place, and at the same time, the very thing that keeps us alive.

Going Through the Change is going through a change in price for a couple of days in early August. On August 5th and 6th you can get the Kindle edition for free on Amazon. Check it out at:

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills. You can find her online on her blog,  Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, women should be portrayed in the same ways men are.

    I believe the reason why females are rarely in the middle ground in fiction is because they are placed in a pedestal and people don't want that pedestal broken.