It took me many years to craft my first novel Coming Out of Egypt, the first book of the Egypt trilogy. I wanted characters who were well developed, who would take on the persona of real people and to whom my readers can relate. By the time I’d completed the first draft, I knew those characters as well as, or maybe better than, my family and friends. After all, I created them. Therefore, it came as no surprise to me when my characters expressed their feelings – in no uncertain terms – about the upcoming presidential elections and the media’s propensity to grab – pardon me – to feed on anything that smacks of sensationalism.
Here is a scene I walked in on recently where Marva, the protagonist, was close to a meltdown over something that was being shown on television.
Snatching the remote from her sister June: “We are not to watch this. This is so painful to me. Have you forgotten what Daddy used to do to us?” She bursts into tears and flings the remote into the corner.
June dives after it. “I want to see that poster …”
Marva goes after her and tries to take the remote. “Junie, women all over the world are weeping now. Whether they were abused or not. This election makes me want to …”
“To what, Sister?”
Marva holds her head and runs from the room.
Cicely, Marva’s former teacher enters. “Hi, girls.”
“Oh, hi, Miss Stewart.” June doesn’t look up . She is busy trying to replace the batteries that fell out when Marva threw the remote.
“What are you doing? Where’s Marva?” Cicely asks.
June holds up the device, now intact. “She’s upset over what she’s seeing on TV. About the elections.”
“And she should be. As a woman who was abused by her father, I can’t stand to look at that filth either. It reeks of sexism, misogynism, and plain old male chauvinism. I am telling my class they are not to watch television – ever again. Women need to rise up in protest against this sort of thing.”
June stares open-mouthed. “What’s that word? I need my dictionary.” She drops the remote and runs from the room.
I try to sneak behind Cicely’s back to get the instrument, but David, Cicely’s husband and ace detective, enters. He kisses his wife then tilts her chin upward. “What’s the matter, sweetheart? Why so glum?”
She buries her face in his shirt. “It’s this election. Look at what it’s doing to the girls, to women everywhere.”
He steps away from her, his face grim. “Don’t worry. I’ll catch the perpetrators. And throw them in jail.”
They leave the room, and I grab the remote. After all, I need to see what’s going on because tomorrow my characters will come and ask me to tell them what they missed.
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