EelKat Wendy C Allen - Author Interview: Spell Casting Side Effects: Magic In Quaraun's Universe | Fantasy Author Interview

Quaraun Novel Update: Starting in 2014, in preparation for the 40th Anniversary of The Twighlight Manor Series (September 23, 1978/2018), all 2,000+ short stories are being compiled into chronological order, to be re-released as a series of 130 novels. All the original short stories are being republished both here on and on Amazon. In the novels, each short story now stands as a "chapter" in the novels. New scenes/stories are being writing to connect the short stories together into novel format.

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When is it "Ok" to use controversial tropes?

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When is it "Ok" to use controversial tropes?

When is it "Ok" to use controversial tropes? from writing

While my original answer to this question (When is it "Ok" to use controversial tropes?) appeared on the thread linked above, my answer here on is longer and has more detail then the one posted on the original forum.

I'm often told my series is full of "horrific tropes" that I "shouldn't use", and when people ask "why did you write them like that" and my answer comes back as "I write what I know", they get confused. But the fact remains, my characters and their lifestyle is based off of own life.

I'll show you what I mean:

His primary lover is:

His secondary lover is:

  • A farmer
  • a Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master
  • owns a 1974 AMC Gremlin
  • is an animal rights activist
  • is vegan
  • is a Mormon
  • is a notorious thief

Now let's look at me:

  • I have Autism
  • I am not white.
  • I am mixed blood of: Persian (Asian), Scottish, Kickapoo, and Haitian (Black) descent
  • I am short
  • I am a Gypsy
  • I am demi-sexual
  • I am genderfluid
  • I grew up in a culture that practices polygamy; 
  • my grandfather had 2 wives, 
  • my uncle with the most wives has 5 wives, 
  • and my aunt with the most husbands has 8 husbands.
  • I am a transvestite.
  • As a child I grew up addicted to the Liberace show. When he died I started dressing like him. I've worn pink sequin ballgowns as every day wear for 31 years. I own not one shred of "normal" clothing.
  • I am the sub of a Master/slave relationship. We have been together since 1987.
  • I grew up in an extremely abusive home. 
  • 3 of my uncles lead the clan together, they were daily having shoot outs with police and rival clans; 
  • wars between Gypsy clans are bloody and brutal; 
  • several of my uncles and cousins are drug dealers; 
  • 4 of my uncles are wanted by and currently on the run from the FBI; 
  • they were child abusing wife beaters. 
  • I suffered a lot of abuse 
  • and witnessed a lot of violence, including witnessing murder.
  • I live in Maine
  • I grew up on a farm, and would still run said farm had a bomb not blown it up
  • am a D&D DM
  • owned 2 AMC Gremlins, the orange 1974 described in the books and a brown 1976 - both were destroyed when drug dealers took a sledgehammer to them, and also a 1974 AMC Hornet
  • I went to culinary arts school
  • I love gingerbread and eggnog
  • I am a Mormon - 5th generation
  • I am also a Voodoo Preiestess, rank of Medsen Fey Marrija Loa to Damballa Weddo
  • I am an animal rights activists (am the founder of the Proctor & Gamble Boycott)
  • I am vegetarian
  • I grew up with uncles who make a career out of being thieves

If the characters I write are tropes, then my life is a trope as well, because I base my characters off my own life.

So I say... just write your story the way you want it. You can't please everyone, you'll always offend someone, and if you try to change everything to keep everyone happy, you'll end up pleasing no one at all, not even yourself.

Tropes exist, because life exists. Stereotypes are out there because sad fact of the matter is people often actually do certain thing which resulted in said stereotypes.

Take my race for example. Gypsies have a reputation for being criminals and thieves. Well, not all of them are, but, the fact remains, a large portion of the Gypsy culture IS in fact made up of criminals and thieves. I have an uncle who takes his children, has one of the toddlers grab some random lost cat poster off some random phone pole, then knock on a door of some rich fancy looking house and bawl her eyes out over her "lost cat", and while this 4 or 5 year old keeps the people at the door, him and the rest of his children climb through a back window and clean out every electronic they can find as fast as they can.

They never had a cat to lose, and by the time the people get the girl with her fake tears calmed down, my uncle has cleaned out half their house.

That's his full time job. He then turns around and sells all of the stolen items at flea markets and indoor yard sales or on eBay.

He's a criminal, and I've got 12 uncles who do far worse then him.

Yes, it's bad to say ALL Gypsies are thieves, but the fact remains, that stereotype is out there because an awful lot of my people really are cruddy scumbag thieves just like the stereotype says.

The point is, when writing something that is prone to stereotype, is to show that not ALL are the same and that there are good and bad both within it.

Tropes and stereotypes exist in books, because they are facts that exist in real life, like it or not. No reason to avoid writing them, just be careful when writing them that you don't come off saying everything/person within the group is the trope.

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I think, that may be why I write so much plotless slice of life stories.

Slice of Life stories don't use plot. Slice of Life is a really common genre in short stories, but I can't say I've ever seen it done in novels or novellas. I use it in my own novels, but if you've ever read the Quaraun series, you know that each chapter is a short story that doesn't fully connect to the chapter after it. It's why some readers say the Quaraun series has a disconnected feel to it. Which it intentional, actual, as he is a drug addict and drifts through life not fully aware if what is going on around him is real or not, thus for the Quaraun series the disjointedness works.

Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" and Anton Chekhov's "Gray" and H.G.Wells "The Crystal Egg" and the stories "The Bronze Door" and "A Unicorn in the Garden" (I forget who wrote those last two) are all primary examples of the Slice of Life genre. In each of those stories, there is no beginning, no middle, no end, no problems are resolved, but stuff happens.

In "Hills Like White Elephants" a couple sits at a bar discussing the topic of should we or shouldn't we. They never say what they are discussing. They never come to a conclusion. In an interview the author told readers they were discussing if the girl should have an abortion.

In "Gray" a taxi driver's son has just died and he retells the tale of his son's death to each person he picks up that night. That's it. Nothing else happens.

In "The Crystal Egg" a man finds a crystal egg in a shop, and when he looks inside of it, he sees that there is a whole other world going on somewhere. He spends the rest of his life staring into the egg watching other people live their lives.

In "The Bronze Door" an antique collector buy a huge bronze door and stands it in his living room to annoy his wife. One day her dog runs through it and doesn't come out the other side, so he tosses his wife through it, and she vanished too, when the police come looking for her, he shows them the door than pushes them in, the story ends with him imagining all the people who wronged him and how one by one he'll invite them to dinner.

"A Unicorn in the Garden" is self explanatory. A man wakes up one morning to find a unicorn standing in the garden. Him and his wife discuss it over breakfast than he goes to work, the end.

Each of these stories is 10 pages or less in length. They are all "great classics" from the 1890s to 1930s and are commonly required reading found reprinted in high school literature text books.

Most of my stories fall into "Slice of Life". Rarely do I write a story longer than 30 pages, they never begin or end, they are always a glimpse into a single moment of a character's life, thus the name of the genre "Slice of Life" or "Slice of Life Vignette".

This is actually my favorite genre to read as well as my favorite to write, and it can be used in conjunction with any other genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Romance, whatever. I love it because it leaves so much unsaid, so many questions unanswered, and gives me (the reader) so much to think about in the terms of "but what if..." 

Those stories listed above are among my favorite stories of all time and they (esp The Bronze Door) are what inspired me to become a writer in general and a writer of short stories specifically.

But the thing they have in common is they are all a single look into one day or even just one hour of a person's life.

My own stories are written that way. With no real plot, but rather a glance int one day in Quaraun's life. But then since much of Quaraun's life is based off of my own life, many of the stories are therefore a glance into my life.

And then, when people take that and say it's me writing stereotypes or tropes, and tell me I shouldn't write the things I write, I then have to look t my own life and ask: Am I not allowed to write a diary? Am I not allowed to keep a record of my life? Is my life so much of a stertype or a trope that you feel my life should not exist?

Think about it.

Next time someone tells you not to write something because it offends THEM, tell them to fuck off a cliff. Write your book and ignore the haters.

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