Monday, May 05, 2008

BOM: The Editing


The editing process went fairly well, but I do remember one thing that came up:  my editor, who lives in Chicago, questioned a couple of incidents in the book. Racism is one of many themes in the story, and she found it hard to believe that a policeman would hassle a mixed race couple on the street in our time.  And she wondered about the reasons behind McLane's father's mindset--where did his attitude come from? 

I'm sure her bewilderment was genuine, but so was mine.  The incident with the cop and the couple came from my own daughter's experience (she's Asian and she was dating an African-American man). But they were in an urban area where perhaps police are familiar with women being hassled by all kinds of men. Many times we assume a situation is racist when it's not. 

On the other hand, who can say where racism comes from?  We don't have to be taught to prefer people who look and think like us.  That's a natural human tendency.  (In fact, I found an online quiz that demonstrates this--take the test if you like and see if you have ingrained preferences. )

I asked some writer friends if racism was alive and well in their communities, and boy, did I get affirmative answers and anecdotes, one of which I used in the novel.  Bottom line:  racism is alive and well in this country, but political correctness has driven it underground. We're all a lot more sensitive, but racism hasn't gone away.

So I did some work to clarify my points . . . and the final result was, I think, a better book. 

Tomorrow: Results and reader reaction.  And don't forget--if you have a question, please leave it in the comments box! I'll collect them all for "comments" day! 

~~Angie 


9 comments:

Accidental Poet said...

did you and your editors disagree over how much of the body preparation process was acceptable to include? I ask because I find all that sort of thing fascinating, and I think that I would include far more than most people would care to read, initially.

Kay said...

I agree that racism is alive and well. I think it is becoming less severe, but it will always be around.
I was surprised that I had no preference on that test. Not that I think I'm a racist, but I did grow up in an all white town and so I expected that to influence the test.
You are right about it being natural. Like sticks to like. Even at college everyone divided into their own groups, by choice. The African Americans hung out there, the Africans in a different spot, The Asians, the Romanians, the Indians, all hung out together in their groups. By choice.

Angela said...

You're so right, Kay. In our middle school group, kids don't really group by race, but by culture--we have the cheerleader types in one row, the jocks in another, the brainiacs in another. Even the "loners" stick together in a detached sort of way.

It's like they have an innate homing beacon that attracts kids of a similar mindset. Little hives.

Angie

Kay said...

And we ALL do it. Unless we make an intentional effort to do otherwise. In a new group of strangers we will intuitively find people we have something in common with. It would take intention to put ourselves in the middle of a group that is nothing like ourselves. And it would take some courage. Maybe the drive for acceptance is behind that??

Mocha with Linda said...

First of all, I finished the book last night. Sigh. Excellent, excellent, as always, Angela!! I think my favorite line was at the top of page 366 about trusting God. WOW!

I agree that racism is still an issue. The test was interesting; I did it twice several hours apart and got two different answers! Interestingly enough, the first time I was more neutral than the second time.

I do struggle with the whole marriage issue. I don't think that interracial marriage is wrong or sinful, and I don't think it should be illegal, but I'm not sure it's always wise. I liked the comment in the book about the rose. I think sometimes the "politically correct" folks want to make everyone colorless - and I think there are definitely cultural diffences. But different isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just different. Ammonia and bleach are both wonderful cleaners with great purposes. But they shouldn't be mixed together.

So you were really on Live with Regis and Kelly? How cool is that! Do you have a clip on your blog somewhere?

Angela said...

I hear what you're saying, Linda--when my daughter (she was 18) asked if I'd mind if she dated a black man, I said, "Honey, I care far more about whether or not he loves Jesus than the color of his skin."

I then went on to talk about how marriage is tough, so it helps to have a common background and culture so you are working for the same goals. We talked about how it'd be harder for interracial couples to be accepted in different parts of the country, and by different age groups. But since we've had an interracial family for years, we know a little bit about how other people react. I can't tell you how many times my son has been called "Yao" and my daughter "Mulan." They hate it. :-(

But animosities and bitter feelings exist among Asian groups, the American North and South, and racial groups in Europe where everyone has the same skin color. Anyone who's read THE KITE RUNNER has learned about rivalries among tribes in Afghanistan.

People are born into a shared history, and we're not always able to look beyond it. But skin color is among the least of the things that matter.

Angie

Angela said...

And P.S. Thanks for your kind comments about SAWR. I hope it was worth the wait!

Angie

Mocha with Linda said...

Oh, definitely worth the wait. It's funny. . . I almost hated to read it because then I knew I'd finish it and it would be over! How weird is that? Kinda like enjoying the anticipation of Christmas! But at least I get a daily "fix" here!

I appreciate your comments. Your fiction books can cause me to wrestle with things as much as any non-fiction book! :-) There's much to ponder in this book. And yes, for rivalry and hatred with "same skin", that all began with Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, Leah & Rachel. . . . And a "matched" interracial couple would likely have an easier time than a woman with a PhD and Jethro from the Beverly Hilbillies!

This book has so many issues to contemplate. Love the aspect of unconditional love. The transportation issue you mentioned yesterday is tough, but I do agree with how you had Jen handle it in the book.

I'll hush now. I promise I'm not trying to "hog the blog!" Thanks for all you do, and for doing it with such excellence and grace!

CrownLaidDown said...

My dear friend here in CS is black and married to a white man. They experienced getting hassled by a black manager of a restaurant just a few months ago. It makes me sad.

We were discussing this and I had said to her, "Surely you haven't experienced prejudice here in Colorado." Well, as a matter of fact, they do sometimes.

So unfortunately you are not off-base in your assessment. I wish it was not so.