As an author, I enjoy talking to other authors and learning what they draw on for inspiration. In a recent interview with Christine Brown-Quinn, author of Step Aside Super Woman, Career & Family is for Any Woman, one message was clear – write what you know.
My first book, Truth Runs Deep, is a murder mystery, detective thriller. You might wonder what I would know about such things given my resume of wife, mother of seven, and former human resources communication manager. Like Christine who, as a former banking executive, wife and mother, wrote about how she managed it all, I wrote about what I’ve come to know – religious and sexual intolerance and the Catholic Church. These subjects become amplified in the context of my favorite genre, thus providing a platform for potential influence.
My parents were not particularly religious, but their background was Protestant – Southern Baptist, to be exact. I’m sure they never imagined in a million years that I would marry a Catholic, much less that I would marry two of them (though not at the same time). That translates to almost 30 years of exposure to the Catholic Church; and, while I did attend confirmation classes I chose not to convert – really, so Middle Ages. As for our seven children, they have all been raised in the Catholic Church, with Catholic instruction, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah (and Seinfeld’s Jewish influences, obviously).
The meat of my book comes from my observations and feelings on the subjects of religion in general as well as religious and sexual intolerance. The latter topics I came to know very well in my former corporate role where I also managed the diversity and inclusion program. And, while many diversity practitioners may disagree with me, the biggest issues in diversity were not related to race as some may think, but rather intolerance – particularly around sexual preference.
Why do people care about something so personal as sexual preference? I often asked myself. In the work place, shouldn’t focus be on furthering the corporate mission? As long as individuals are competent, contribute, work well with others and abide by company policies, the rest should be irrelevant. But not irrelevant to the extent to which gay employees feel they can’t be authentic. If one employee feels comfortable talking about his/her partner and children, then every employee should feel comfortable talking about his/her partner and children. That’s why organizations such as Human Rights Campaign and Out and Equal are so important. Both organizations are dedicated to ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and working to create a more inclusive culture at work and across the US. As a diversity practitioner and as a writer, these organizations were two of my best resources.
When I ask people why they believe what they believe, I usually hear references to upbringing and religious doctrine. To change a culture – really change a culture – you have to start with parents whose every word builds a foundation of biased truth for their children. In Truth Runs Deep, I wanted parents to feel the weight of their words on their children and I did this in a very deliberate way, through their adolescent children. My hope is to get parents to take a long, hard look at who they are and how their words impact the lives of their children. Even if I touch one parent, then that’s one more mind opening up so that acceptance can begin to seep in. That doesn’t mean you have to march in next year’s Pride Parade, but it does mean that your children won’t hear you making biased remarks based on sexual preference, religion, race, gender or age.
That’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. If you need help, then Truth Runs Deep is a good book for you to pick up! Fiction with a message — all wrapped up in a plot of mystery, suspense and murder.
So, back to Christine Brown-Quinn, you can listen to my free podcast with Christine as she gives me the inside scoop on writing her book Step Aside Super Woman, Career & Family are for Any Woman. Can’t get any more authentic than that!
Image found here.