Let's give today's guest author T.I. Lowe a warm Seekerville welcome as she shares her heart for writing characters who are considered different by embracing the marginalized.
I was asked the following question in an interview for my book Under the Magnolias and thought I would elaborate on it for you in this post:
Why did you choose to represent characters who are “marginalized” or “misunderstood” in this book?
My answer: I am just so tired of the labels and the unrealistic boxes society creates and expects you to live up to. That’s hogwash. If God wanted us all to fit in the same box, he would have created us as carbon copies. He didn’t, so that means it’s a gift to be different and I think differences should be celebrated. I did a lot of celebrating this in Under the Magnolias.
That’s the blunt answer, and I feel like bluntness is needed for this question. No beating around the bush.
As a writer, I think it would be an injustice to write solely about cookie-cutter characters. I don’t know about you, but I’m a hot mess. I have issues. I’m pudgy. When I’m nervous, I cannot find eloquence to save my life. And those are just some of my issues. Other folks have other issues. Honestly, that’s what makes them interesting in my book.
My desire is to showcase differences, in all forms, and to have people realize how unnecessary labels and boxes are. The ones who are typically overlooked are the ones I always gravitate toward when investing in character studies.
Labels created by society come with scarlet letters of shame. Body-shaming. Race shaming. Gender shaming. Social views shaming. I could go on and on. If one person reads Under the Magnolias and can relate to one of the marginalized characters and realize they are perfectly acceptable as is, then I’ve done the job I wanted to achieve.
Here’s a sneak peek at the interesting mix of characters you will meet in Under the Magnolias.
As the piano came to life, I sat a little straighter and scanned the small pews and felt certain the ragtag congregation near about represented any walk of life you could think of.
A fortune-teller accused of being a witch doctor. Check.
An ex-con with a glass eye. Check.
An atheist believer with a Polish accent. Check.
The town’s undertaker whose sexual orientation was questionable. Check.
The town floozy with a penchant for neon-blue eye shadow. Check.
A poor farming family with way too many kids. Check.
A madman leading them. Check.
As you can see in this small excerpt, there is quite a colorful group of people just waiting to introduce themselves to you. Sadly, they carry labels and shame formed from falsities and gossip. Mostly because those characters didn’t look or act like the “normal” townsfolk. Surfaces can be deceiving, but with a closer look, my readers are going to meet a spectacular group of people.
Sometimes our issues or the labels placed on us due to our issues hold us back from seeking help when we need it. Shame will send us into hiding. Readers will discover how detrimental this is in Under the Magnolias. My characters hide behind the labels, become prisoners to them actually, until it almost becomes their ruin.
As a writer I have the gift of giving the story a happy ending. Sadly, this isn’t always the case in real life. Please, if you are struggling with any form of mental illness or have been hiding some other issue, I want to encourage you to get help. As Austin Foster discovers in this book, you’d be surprised how supportive those around you can be if you just let them in.
Is there a marginalized character you’ve discovered in a book you related to? If so, what book and how did it affect you?
Share your thoughts in the comments and one reader will win a print copy of Under the Magnolias courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers.