It’s not sales or low ratings, that I’m scare of, it’s the personal effect on readers. I’m genuinely scared of something coming across the wrong way, especially something within my own experience.
I have a diverse cast (BIPOC and LGBTQ+) in most of my stories right now and will make sure I have them in all my stories by the time they’re published. But I’m not worried about this since I’ll also be using a sensitivity reader to make sure I avoid offensive expressions in certain contexts or descriptions.
My real fear is in relation to mental health. I’ve poured a lot of personal emotions into my stories, especially Out of Ashes. The book is fantasy fiction, so is completely invented, but the emotions were real. I’m scared someone will claim it’s unrealistic and making my character purposely look crazy when she actually believes she is at times.
It’s awful to feel like you’re loosing your mind or imagining things, and it’s even worse when the people around you convince you of the same. I know what it’s like to be gaslit and to feel like the world is against me. I know what it’s like to fall into depression and harmful behaviour and feel alone.
I was going through my own personal hell with family health issues, personal health issues, work issues, and strained personal friendships. It all accumulated until I had a crazy dream and woke up knowing exactly what I needed to do. I needed to write it all down and make sense of it.
Out of Ashes became my therapy even though I was seeing a therapist for a while. But I worked on this book for months, drafting and tweaking and sharing. One of my critique partners actually picked up on my character’s issues and loved how I wrote her. A few others liked her in general, but a few said she sounded crazy, so I dialled things back a little to account for those people.
I know I can’t please everyone, but I hope that nobody accuses me of misrepresenting mental illness through my characters, because it’s basically my mental illness and my anxiety and stresses from various times in my life.
So my biggest fear is to be gaslit again.