The Responsibilities of Authors

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As an author, there are certain responsibilities that come with the territory. We have a platform and, therefore, should respect the reality that our words will reach beyond our own minds and impress our personal views and opinions upon others—regardless of what those views and opinions may be. On some level, others will get a glimpse into our imaginations, personal experiences, thoughts, and doctrine. Intended or not, this is simply the way of it.
Personally, I write fiction. And although fiction is technically defined as a work of the imagination, all writers draw from personal experience by some degree. As people who believe that the words we place onto paper have value, value enough to submit to others for their enjoyment…judgment…education…I ask you, what is your goal? Beyond the monetary achievement of provisions, what, if anything, is the deeper meaning to your prose? How do you want to affect readers? To sum it up, what is the most basic feeling you want them to walk away with?

In the next few hundred words, I want to explain why I do what I do. At the very least, I hope you find it interesting. At best…well, I hope you find it inspiring.

The number one question I am asked as a thriller writer is this: “How can you write about such horrible things?” The second most asked question about my writing is: “How do you capture so much raw emotion?”

If you read my debut novel, First Night of Summer, you don’t have to go far before realizing that I am going to confront an exceedingly taboo subject. Having said that, you don’t have to read much further to understand that the deplorable subject matter is balanced by the deep love of family, the indelible gumption of the human spirit, and the profound power of forgiveness that has the ability to soothe the evilest of wrongdoings.

My most influential author, Dean Koontz, said, “If we are not willing to acknowledge evil, we will never stand up to it.”

Another of my favorite quotes is by Edmund Burke. He said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
My purest passion in life—writer or not—is to shed light on issues that the world at large is unwilling to acknowledge. The kind of issues that when finally talked about are referred to with benign words and phrases in order tame their despicable nature. In doing so, those who have not suffered such atrocities may digest the information in a manner as to not disrupt the delicate balance of their daily existence.
As strong a statement as that may be, I go back to where I began. As an author, who is my responsibility to? Is it to the reader? The real life people who inspire my characters and their hardships? Perhaps even the demons I strive to expose through metaphor and analogy. Or, why not all of them? Why can I, we, the creators and directors of fiction, not deliver the goods to all concerned?
If a villain in a story is not exposed for who they truly are, who does that help? My opinion is that it only helps the people who are like that in the real world. The last thing evil wants is a spotlight, so I turn on the lights and show the truth.

If the struggle of a parent…spouse…lover…friend…is not accurately portrayed, who does that reach? Who does it assist in their personal life? To me, it seems like it helps no one—no one except those who wish to turn a blind eye on those who have suffered deep tragedy.

The old saying, don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, is as accurate today as it ever was.

To readers, be not afraid to feel emotion—deeply. Be not afraid to learn about the real truths. Be not afraid to understand—the good and the bad.

Writers, be not afraid to stretch the boundaries of your characters. Be not afraid of putting true meaning into your stories. If you make it personal, I promise it will glow brighter than you ever imagined. Lastly: Be not afraid of criticism. When someone goes to the effort to criticize, it’s because you struck a chord.

I’d like to leave you all with something; something that provides both peace and motivation for me—not merely with writing, but also my daily walk.

You can’t change everyone’s mind, but you can show them a different perspective.

I believe this to be the truest task of good story, fiction or otherwise.

Landon Parham
LANDON PARHAM is a bestselling author who lives in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. His goal as a writer is to raise awareness on everyday issues through fiction, and expose taboo realities that the masses give precious little attention to. The wild, majestic expanses of America inspire his visions and will continue to show up as integral parts of his work.

Parham’s debut novel, First Night of Summer, became a bestseller in August 2013 when it hit #21 on Amazon’s Top 100 overall paid chart, and #2 on Barnes & Noble. It has garnered attention from FOX News, NBC, numerous law enforcement personnel, social workers, child-care advocates, and parents around the globe, as an emotional and true-to-life story. ”If we choose not to recognize the evil in our world, we will never stand up to it.” He is currently working on his next suspense novel following his debut. It will tackle a different, but no less suspenseful issue.

Award-winning 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Award Finalist- Suspense/ Fiction

Sony e-reader and #1 NYT Bestselling Author, Sandra Brown’s Debut Author Pick 2013

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  1. What a terrific guest post. It's always interesting to get an author's perspective on how they approach their writing, especially from a thriller writer, who must constantly test the bounds of his genre.


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