The King’s Mercy, my sixth historical novel with WaterBrook & Multnomah, releases today. To celebrate here on the blog I’m sharing some insightful thoughts from someone who has helped me behind the scenes with all my books, but none more so than The King’s Mercy.
I met Amarilis (Amy) Iscold as members of an online Literary Forum we both frequented for years. She lived and worked in Brazil as an MD-Pediatrician with her own practice for a little over a decade before relocating with her family to the USA. On the forum, Amy frequently drew from her considerable experience to answer my and other writer’s questions concerning the fictional expectant mothers and newborns that populated our stories, providing real life anecdotes to make those scenes believable and grounded. Amy specializes in Family & Human Development and currently teaches higher education: child psychology, development, and early education. Her upbeat, creative, and inquisitive outlook on life has earned her several sobriquets, her favorites being The Hope Lady and The Book Whisper (if you want a lead on your next good read, follow Amy on Facebook, where she writes compellingly about what she’s lately read).
by Amarilis Iscold
I was recently listening to a scholar (and activist) who spoke, among other things, of representation. She reaffirmed that, ideally, the voices to be heard are those that best represent any given cause. However, she was pragmatic and realistic enough to admit that the world is imperfect and idealism will only carry us so far.
As many – for ages – have said, at times it takes an ally with power to open doors so that those with a cause can make their voices heard.
Those who have any kind of power and privilege should listen. Really listen. Listen with an open heart and an open mind and be prepared to be educated, mentored, and challenged.
This isn’t easy… “We are not skilled at listening to the wisdom of those whose life patterns are outside of the social norm” (Jean Vanier in BECOMING HUMAN).
There are many degrees of power – and of oppression. Most of us can think of at least one situation for which we are on either side of the equation. Some have more things on one end of the spectrum… others on the other end.
Knowing a little or empathizing in some degree does not authorize us to represent a whole – much less a whole we do not fully belong to. It does not give us a right to speak for others.
We are all inherently a part of the life we live. We are a product of our times. We cannot remove ourselves from humanity and analyze it from the outside in. There is no outside. Or, rather, there are varying degrees of “insiderness”. But we can create alliances.
In talking about the power of representation and of having a voice in society, an expression that comes up is that of having a seat at the table. During said speech, I was asking myself (and later my journal), “When given a seat at the table, who do you align with? Do you open doors? Or are you a gatekeeper? Do you change the rules? Create a bigger table?”
Trying to match his self-possession, she faced him. “What you said last night, about the lines between us, my family and the slaves–“
“Wheest,” he interrupted gently, straightening but still gripping the fence rail. “I oughtn’t to have said such things, Mistress.”
“Miss Joanna,” she reminded him. “And whether you spoke amiss or not, I’ve been thinking about it — even before last night. You’re right. I do find it difficult to keep from crossing those lines.”
He leaned toward her slightly. “Can you imagine a life without them?”
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