Gypsies, Racism, and NAMELESS, oh my!

Growing up, I lived in New Hampshire, Alabama, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Six states and eighteen different homes all before I turned eighteen-years-old. No, we weren’t gypsies (though how cool would that be!). My dad flew F-16s in the Air Force.

Childhood pic

Me and my mom

I learned some valuable lessons from my crazy childhood. In the south you say, “Yes, Ma’am” or “No, Sir” to everything, or you find a ruler connecting with the backside of your hand (totally happened). In New Hampshire “wicked” is a universal adjective. And Utah has some of the best substitute curse words in the country.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson learned was that racism is real and people—when stripped of color, vernacular, prejudice, and religion—are all pretty much the same. We all love, we all want to protect our family and friends, and we all feel threatened by the unfamiliar or “different.”

I wrote a book entitled, NAMELESS, which releases on October 6, 2015. It’s a young adult fantasy that takes place in a fictitious world with four clans from very different cultural backgrounds. Zo, our protagonist, is orphaned after her parents are killed in an enemy raid. On the surface it might appear that the book revolves around her desperation to exact revenge, but the real meat of the story comes from Zo’s journey of forgiveness. She is a healer who learns to heal herself by letting go of her hatred.

Zo isn’t alone her prejudice. These four clans (the Wolf, the Ram, the Raven, and the Kodiak) were all inspired by some of my favorite cultures in hisCOVERtory. I took a page from the brutal training methods of the Spartans, the ingenuity of the Navajo, the simple diplomacy of the Vikings, and the intimidation element of the Maori. This diverse mix of cultures was intended to form a hotbed of “different.”

When I wrote NAMELESS I wasn’t trying to be political. I wasn’t waxing philosophical or attempting to jump on the racial issues plaguing our country right now. I simply wanted to write a good story about a girl who hated. Who felt justified in that hatred. Righteous, even. I wanted her to spend time with her enemies and force her to acknowledge the inherent worth of the individual. I wanted to show that releasing prejudices, though hard, can be quite liberating.

I hope NAMELESS’ complicated love story entertains and the fast-paced adventure excites. As for this gypsy, I had a constant tickle in my stomach throughout the entire writing process. I really do love this book! But if a reader sets down NAMELESS and feels just a smidgen more inclined to give the “different” people in the world a little more slack, I won’t complain about that either. Because just like Zo discovers in the book, and to steal a phrase from Albert Einstein, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

 

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