What is an author’s moral responsibility with regards to social issues?
So, apparently, I’m going off and being pretentious straight out of the gate with my new blogging schedule.
Still, it’s a thorny question. Does an author have a responsibility to be socially conscious? To try to reflect the values they believe in, to have characters who embody what they want to see in the world?
My answer is – it’s complicated. This is just the answer for me of course, but not all of the characters I write are characters I agree with, even the protagonists.
The Strange Tales of Jenny Dark features a narrator who has a very, very progressive view. Miranda is not just politically to the left of centre (as am I), but she’s very, very far to the left. I don’t know if she’s further than I am, but she’s followed a different direction. She’s very, very into identity politics. That’s something I find problematic.
Most of my villains share at least some of my points of view. It’s part of how I establish them as more complex characters. They don’t have single points of view, they aren’t cut from a single cloth, they have some views that I actually find morally positive, and some I find actually evil.
My heroes are the same, I don’t agree with them completely. Now, that doesn’t mean they aren’t heroic, or that they aren’t somehow good people. They are just complicated.
Same for my stories. I don’t agree with all of the outcomes or decisions, good doesn’t always triumph, and sometimes it isn’t even totally obvious that good is good.
So, what’s the moral responsibility? Moral is subservient to story. I will always side with a good tale over a moral tale, both in my reading and in my writing.