Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Pandemic, Protests, and Privilege

By AB Plum

Paraphrasing E.L. Doctorow, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of committing murder.”

I’ve been killing a lot of characters this past month.

Not because the pandemic has demanded much of a change in my life. I, basically, lead a life of privilege. I think killing “the bad guys” is my way of venting frustration about the handling of the pandemic fueled by institutional racism.

Food, good, fresh food, appears on my table nightly. The house where I live provides more than adequate shelter. Walking daily remains part of my routine. I am white, well educated, and healthy (except for a heart condition that puts me in the “Higher Risk” COVID-19 category). One risk I don’t have to deal with:  living in constant fear of the police.

I like to think I’m smart enough to be grateful for my lot in life and to be sensitive to so many others less fortunate. (It sounds self-serving, but I grew up poor as dirt and have never forgotten my deep roots in poverty).

Unconsciously, I write about flawed characters who often are well-to-do. Many of them, though, have memories of being poor, disenfranchised, ill, mentally incapacitated, and marginalized because of race and/or gender.

In my Ryn Davis Mystery Series, she runs a safe house for former prostitutes. With Hispanic surnames, little education, less money, and children with absentee fathers, these women are struggling to learn computer skills that will give them better chances to map out independent lives and to protect their children. None of them has ever met un policia they trusted.

Beau “Peep” Scott earned millions as a drummer in The Stoned Gang. The rock group’s name is apt since Beau burned too many gray cells to take care of his fortune. His parents were drug addicts who neglected him, and he deals daily with people’s sneers about his intellect. He adores Ryn and may be the only man she trusts completely.

Elijah White, former Stanford law school and business grad, successful corporate attorney, and the oldest of five siblings, now runs his own PI business in Southern California. He remembers going to bed hungry. His father was shot and killed by a cop.

Angie, a former Ph.D. candidate in biology and the abused, runaway wife of a Silicon Valley tycoon, is about to hang out her shingle as a vet for the homeless. She lived on the streets when she met Ryn. She shares an affinity with Elijah and Beau for 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. She also understands classism from the perspective of a trophy wife to a toothless bag lady.

These are a few of my regular characters in the series. I’ve not killed any of them and don’t see that happening in the next book at least. Instead, I look forward to exploring greed, lust, and power as the primary reason for murder—and maybe for most of society’s woes.

***  AB Plum lives, walks, and writes in the heart of Silicon Valley. No Little Lies, her third book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series hits Amazon on July 6. Preorder here.