Guest Post – Parking Lot Characters

This is part of a series where guest authors will share their views on how their belief systems affect the fictional worlds they create. Not all of these people will be religious. If you’re interested in participating, email me at scott@scottroche.com.

Jeff Hite blogs at Barely Controlled Chaos and has been an editor at Flying Island Press. You can follow him on Twitter @JAHite.

If you have ever visited my website, one of the first things that you are going to see is the Warning in the side bar. If says something like this: 1. I have opinions they are my own and you don’t have to like them. 2. I am Catholic, and yes I talk about it. 3, I have kids, and yes I talk about them too. 4. I am both a Star Trek geek and a space science geek and I don’t see a conflict. The one thing that I don’t say there is that I am a writer, and all of these things influence my writing in ways that I can’t even predict or explain.

Being Catholic, I understand that the stance that the Catholic church takes on many issues makes it unpopular these days. I got that. I really do. And for me to follow that faith, and stick to those beliefs means that I take a chance on not being popular as well. But a funny thing happened on my way to my writing desk, I discovered that I didn’t care. The stories are not about me. The truth is that I do not go out of my way to offend people. In fact, I go out of my way not to, both in my stories and in person.

A few years ago, I started working with a company called Flying Island Press. They had a stated goal of publishing great science fiction with a positive spin. It was that positive spin that I really found important. We tended to publish things that were not too graphic in nature or language, but instead focused on the positive aspects. The story didn’t have to end well for the protagonist. It didn’t have to have a happy ending but there needed to be something redeeming about the story that made you feel better about the world when you were done reading it.

I have taken that goal and adapted it for my own use. I want to write stories with a positive spin. Stories that are not too graphic in word or deed, but that bring you to a place that is better than you were when you started. If that means I tell you kind of a corny joke that made you smile, great. If that means you got some sort of inspiration from one of the characters, wonderful. If the story made your day in some way, awesome. But I don’t expect that they will cause you to drop what you are doing and join the next available RCIA Class.

When I write, I write because I have stories in my head. Stories that If I don’t let them out will drive me a little looney.

I write to write. I write because I love stories. As a Catholic and a writer, as you might expect I have had priests and nuns, and brothers and all forms of clergy in my stories. Some of them being great examples of the faith and others not so much. But the majority of my stories are about ordinary people. My stories tend to be about people. That sounds odd because all stories are about people in some ways. What I mean by that is that my stories focus on people and how they react to the situations that I have put them in, and not about my beliefs.

When I was younger, and didn’t care so much, It didn’t matter as much to me what I wrote. But I’ve discovered as I have gotten older, note that I say older and not wiser, I find that it is harder and harder not to care about those things that would be against my faith. That does not mean that I don’t tell all the stories I have in my head. Does that mean that all my stories or even some small number of my stories, have some kind of a meaning that you need to find that will bring you closer to the faith? Probably not. I don’t even do subliminal messages.

I believe that we should live our faith through our actions and our words. I knew a priest once that said, “We show our Christianity not here in the church but in the parking lot after Mass.” That is my goal, as a writer. Not to show my characters kneeling in prayer but to show you what happens when they reach the parking lot. I try to remember that my stories are not about me, they are about the characters. They don’t always share my beliefs, and that is ok. I don’t hate them for that, I don’t even dislike them for that, but I do hope that they are like me in at least one way, they do not go out of their way to offend.

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2 comments

  1. Scott, Thank you for hosting this series,it has been really interesting so far and I suspect that I will continue to be. I really appreciate you letting me take part in it.

    Parking Lot Characters. I would never have thought of calling them that, but it makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks
    -Jeff

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