Thursday, December 4, 2014

Alma Alexander on RANDOM and what it means to be human

Today's guest, Alma Alexander, writes fantasy. She explains how she sees the imaginative world of her fiction as standing for the complexities of everyday life.

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The World of Random
by Alma Alexander

When a new book comes out, it's  always fascinating to see just what
it is that jumps out at people, what readers take away from it, how
they respond to the things the writer believed important enough to
build into the story.

In reviews of my latest book, "Random",  I was very happy to see
readers and reviewers pick up on the things which had mattered to me,
which I had put in there for a reason and a purpose, and which were
finding their mark - things like how I had portrayed issues like
bullying and discrimination, what it felt like to be an immigrant in a
strange new place, what it felt like to live "different" and how it
affected the minutiae of one's life.

I was very happy to see comments like "this is a book on what it means
to be HUMAN" - because that, wrapped in the fantasy world inhabited by
the Were-creatures I had created to live there, was exactly what I had
been aiming for.

Being human is such a complicated thing, almost impossible to
communicate precisely from one human mind to another; we may share the
commonality of form and function, but our inner lives are all very
different. We look at the world as filtered by those different
experiences and expectations and often find it disconcerting to have
that worldview challenged by somebody else who might look at an
identical thing but perceive it very differently because of their own
set of filters.

But here's where fiction - fantasy, in particular - is such a
magnificent and unifying lens through which it is possible to look at
something we would find it tough to focus on in its raw reality and to
suddenly perceive the object we are observing and judging in a very
new light.

In fiction, you are offered a set of filters which are almost
inevitably very different from your own - and through those filters,
with a helping of empathy and insight, you are permitted to see
something with a whole new set of eyes.

What I wanted to put out there is that very question - that
deceptively simple question - what DOES it mean to be human, what does
it mean when I consider myself human, and how can I possibly take it
upon myself to judge another human by standards that apply only to me
(because they can't help but fail that test; nobody else can BE me, by

If readers close this book with that in their minds - if they steal a
glance across the aisle and see someone who is not quite like them (a
different race, a different creed, a different sexuality) and see a
connection which had not been there before - even if only a bare
handful of readers do this - we have a beginning of something
potentially wonderful. We have the potential to talk to one another,
to bridge the chasms between us, to communicate, to understand.

And my Were-kind will have left a solid and valuable legacy.

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Learn more about Alma Alexander on her website and on Facebook.

Purchase Random on Amazon. Read some reviews on Goodreads.

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