It takes a long time for a novel to go from initial idea through to finished book. It goes through initial draft, rewrites, finding a publisher, and then the publication process itself, which can sometimes take a year from when a publisher says yes to the book being released. I remember wondering, as I was writing Wolf Unleashed, whether the book would still feel relevant by the time it was officially published.
I wrote chunks of that book while protests were going on in America about unarmed black people being killed, while people were being locked up, beaten, tear-gassed, or otherwise hurt for simply calling out people who were doing wrong. I remember doing what little I could with petitions and donations and sharing stories, hoping that those protests would have an impact, that the authorities would step in to address some of the issues of institutional racism that were at the heart of so much of the suffering, but I also remember wondering what that might mean for my book. If progress was made, my book might feel old before it was even born. It might be launched into the world already feeling like it was focused on last year’s subject.
And then Trump was elected. He came into power and tried to have Muslims banned from the country, and I went back into a particular scene of the book, where the Muslim character Mehmood is talking about things he’s experienced, and rewrote some of the dialogue to draw a clearer parallel. Suddenly those moments with Mehmood started to feel more relevant again.
And now we have stories on the news about children being taken away from parents, children being rounded up, children being put in cages. And I’m left wishing that my story, with it’s scene in which children are taken from their mother and put in cages, didn’t feel so relevant. I wrote awful things into the book, where a group of people are being treated as less than human, their rights and wellbeing ignored. And now I’m watching it happen on the news, reading articles about the inhumanity with which groups of people are being treated.
I wanted my book to still feel relevant when it was published, but it’s like the old saying goes: be careful what you wish for.
My book’s message was “Werewolves are people too” but it’s painful to look at what’s happening in the world and know that the message “refugees are people too” is just as real and important a message as ever. This suffering and dehumanising behaviour isn’t just something that happens in books, but it’s something that’s happening right now in the real world, and it’s heartbreaking to see it going on.
There are organisations you can donate to if you want to help those suffering right now in the concentration camps Trump has set up. Act Blue has a fund called Support Kids at the Border that let’s you donate to several charities and groups all at once if you don’t know which group is the best one to give to. Let’s hope that the issues in my book start feeling less relevant sometime very soon.