The Reality of Everyday Monsters
(Forget your werewolves and vampires, these people are scary!)
by Alexandra Allred
I was on the US women's bobsled team and had trained dogs professionally before my turn at fiction so my books were primarily extreme sports, how-to, self help, training while pregnant and how to train your cute little puppy books. I even penned a cat book. There was an agent in L.A. who was familiar with my work so when I wrote White Trash I decided to send him a copy. What the heck.
I repeat. He was aware of my 'you go, girl!' and 'nice puppy dog' books. Four days after I sent him the book that included murder, blackmail, drugs, gun running, addiction, molestation, lies, deceit, insurance fraud and racial profiling, he said, "Were you on crack when you wrote this?"
I thought I caught a hint of pleasure in his voice so I went with it.
"Um ... yes?"
He was having such a great time laughing at the scenarios that I didn't have the heart to tell him I was completely sober when I wrote the book. In fact, the entire premise of the book had been quite sobering. I was standing in a store, fairly new to the state of Texas, when an adorable black child toddled before me. Both she and her parents were gorgeous. The woman next to me remarked, "Oh, what a cute little niglet."
Did she just say that? Did I just hear that? But instead of speaking up or speaking out, I went mute. I was so stunned by what I had heard that I said nothing and for days that haunted me. I was so mad at myself for saying nothing that the word "niglet" would not leave my head.
One of the many fun things about reading fantasy with pages filled with vampires and werewolves, demons and zombies, is that you know your bad guy. The face contorts, the body mutates, fangs and claws emerge and terror fills the heart. I love that! Even then it becomes complicated. Seemingly monstrous bad guys can be good guys, in search of souls and redemption. But MY bad guys were suddenly much too real.
How do you deal with people who denounce those on welfare yet routinely scam insurance companies? How do you reckon with people who never miss a church sermon yet loathe their neighbors because of their race and/or religion?
Answer: Throw in some fainting goats, a bigoted cop, citizens who routinely have pee-pee holding contests, a smokin' hot trash man, death by port-a-potty, a squirrel loathing neighbor, a nosy reporter and you're knee deep in White Trash. Humor is the only way to defeat these monsters and appreciate the world around us.
As is always the criteria for a true heroine in fantasy novels, Thia Franks fights her own demons as she faces the monsters of her hometown. "Then, with everything going my way, I took a little sidestep , following the footsteps of my ancestors. With success and financial independence all but locked up, the ancient spirit of my grandmother and her mother and her mother awakened inside me. I ran right out and got pregnant. Well, I didn't run. I was too drunk to run, actually.... I was twenty-four years old and, I thought, the dream was dead. The only place that really looked good now was the very place I had damned to hell and to which I had sworn never to return."
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Alexandra Allred has a penchant for tackling relevant socio-political issues via intelligent humor.
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Alexandra Allred’s writing career began following a stint on the US women’s bobsled team. After being named “Athlete of the Year” by the United States Olympic Committee, she became an adventure writer. While writing for a variety of national publications, she test drove the Volvo Gravity Car, donned a dog attack suit, played professional women’s football, and even outran a beefalo mix (that’s a buffalo/cow mix to you city folk).
She turned to fiction writing using her rural Texas homestead as fodder for storytelling. When not writing, she lobbies for healthy children. Allred lives outside Dallas, Texas, with her husband, children, and a plethora of animals.
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