RAISED BY MY FATHER – How it influenced my writing, helped me create strong male characters, and made me think differently about men
I was raised by a single parent – a father, which I think makes me think and write about men differently than a lot of writers. One recent result: I’ve written a young adult novel with strong male points of view.
Inspired by real events, LIE -- (St. Martin's Press, 2011) -- has two main characters – seventeen-year-old Skylar and Sean. LIE is about the aftermath of a brutal hate crime, about a group of white teen attacking Hispanics for “fun” and everything going terribly wrong. Moreover, it’s the struggle of Skylar and Sean to break from their friends, their community and tell the truth -- or lie.
Writing both a male and female main characters was a challenge -- and had me thinking a lot about what makes teens different. What makes them act? What are the morals and ethics that they each respond to -- or reject? There are ten distinct first person voices in LIE. In addition to the teen voices, there are three fathers as a well as a high school coach, struggling along with the teens about the consequences of this hate crime.
In LIE, it soon becomes clear that the words and actions of the fathers have strongly influenced the actions of the teen boys. These teenagers, even more than the girls, are looking toward the men in their lives as guiding forces. The fathers stress sports over all else. They want to “win,” at all costs for their sons, in sports and in life. One father’s bitter and angry prejudices about race are juxtaposed against the idea of “winning” i.e. for one group of people to “win” another must “lose,” and so his son, Jimmy, a Scholar-Athlete, leads a group of his peers in a so-called “beaner-hopping” spree against Hispanics, which turns terribly wrong.
Growing up, my father spent a lot of time talking about life, about history, about the world and current events to his four children. He was not at all a religious man, but he thought a lot about what was right in the world and what was wrong in the world, and all the gray parts in between. He was also a big, tough-talking guy from the Bronx. But what he said to me and to my younger siblings was this, “Think before you act. Think of how what you’re doing affects you and think about how it affects others.” Admittedly, he probably said it more colorfully, but I knew what he meant and it informed my moral core to this day. I am a writer because of my father, Morris Blech, who is still going strong at 81-years old.
I urge mothers, fathers as well as their teens to take a look at my critically-acclaimed novel: LIE. Let me know what you think of the male characters, about the fathers and sons.
Truly, author of LIE
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