I was going to add, "I couldn't help it," but let's be honest. I could have chosen not to do that because it might offend gay people. It might offend people who think gay people shouldn't be married. It might offend those who despise cliches. But I went right the heck ahead and did it anyway.
I'm just starting a new novel (Guesthouse #10!) and this is the time when invention is at its most rampant. The writer has to start from scratch, or in the case of a series novel, close to it, and create a whole story with fleshed-out people who have real challenges to overcome. Names are assigned. Character traits become evident. There's a plot and stuff to work out.
Sometimes there is the temptation to indulge oneself and I will cop to doing that every now and again. While Faulkner (or any one of 16,000 other authors misquoted) said, "In writing you must kill all your darlings," the fact is you should only kill most of them. Some are worth keeping.
This one began because I have a daughter named Eve. And she's an adult now but believe it or not she wasn't always. A good number of years ago we were talking and I asked if, hypothetically, she were to--in the future--meet a nice guy named Adam who asked her out on a date. Would she accept?
She took a moment and looked at me. "I'd really have to think about it," she said.
It occurred to me the same was true for a gay man named Steve. And since I was writing the couple from the start and could address the issue in their relationship, I decided to plug the names in and see if I liked them. I'm only six pages into the book so there's no verdict yet, but don't be surprised if they make the cut.
What this comes to is whether a writer needs to be completely circumspect about his/her beliefs. I have tried to stay on the sidelines politically and have failed miserably, to the point that I don't really try at all anymore. I understand this alienates a percentage of my potential readership and I'm not happy about that. But I also believe that everyone--even a writer--has the right to have and express an opinion, and I have some I wish to express.
I have been mostly quiet on the topic of religion because I truly am committed to the idea that everyone (including atheists) is entitled to believe as he or she is inclined. But sometimes that sneaks out too because I'm more offended by unfairness than anything else and I see a good deal of inequity in the discussion. I'll leave it at that.
Naming the two men Adam and Steve, then, was a fairly ham handed attempt at tweaking those I see as on the wrong side of the issue. I think bigots need to know they're being bigots and if it makes them uncomfortable, well, then I've had a good day.
But it's also a fun small plot detail to use and that's really the point in what I write. I'm not expecting to change anyone's mind about anything ever. I do hope that everyone will read the work and find it entertaining. If it makes them think about something in a way they didn't before, well, where's the harm in that?
What do you think? Should I keep the names?