~ Books and Change ~
The ability to change is essential for survival. Those who refuse to change become dull, boring, and left behind. One force for change is literature. Ever since people learned to write and read, books have had the power to change the reader, and if read by enough people, a community, or even the world.
Think of the Bible. The Koran. The Evolution of the Species. Das Kapital. The written word has founded religions, changed how we view the human condition, and has upturned nations.
All of these works embody 5 things
- They address something that is important in human lives
- They embody great passion and conviction on the part of the authors
- They speak directly to their intended audiences in language they can understand.
- The ideas are easily understood and enthusiastically spread by their readers
- The ideas inspired controversy which also helped them become more widely known.
How about novels?
Can you think of a novel that has had a powerful effect on society or people’s lives? Several writers have attempted to do this.
Bookbub lists thirty-two novels starting with To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, 1984, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The World Economic Forum chose nine books, moving Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the top of the list, followed by The Jungle, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Things Fall Apart. The Unpublished Writer Blog lists twenty world-changers which include some of these, and many other classics, but goes on to suggest that maybe we need to give a novel at least fifty years before making a judgement on its influence.
As a writer, I know that writing a world-changing novel is well-beyond my scope in life. But I think it would be amazing to write a novel that changed lives, especially if it is one that makes a positive change.
But is that possible as a writer of genre romance? I think it is. My stories are meant to be thrilling and rough and realistic. I hope that by writing about characters who are not found in many romance novels and who face situations that take courage and smarts, I am helping readers from different backgrounds to walk in the shoes of others.
In my latest novel, and the last in my Skin Quartet series, my heroine is an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was brought here as a child. In the story, I try to show how limited options are for people who live in fear of being deported, and thereby, make the discussions going on in the political world a little more real.
Under the Skin by Zara West
Born poor and raised on the streets, celebrated bridge builder and billionaire, Mic Vargas is knee-deep in the construction of a trouble-plagued bridge from Manhattan to New Jersey. He really can’t afford to take in a stray thief and fall in love with her. But when a beautiful, snappy-tongued, illegal immigrant literally drops at his feet, he becomes consumed with saving her and her family from poverty.
Cat burglar, Lena Correr stopped trusting anyone long ago. Not even a rich, handsome billionaire with good intentions can break through her defenses. At least, not until an East Coast crime boss threatens her family and forces her to steal for him. Mic vows to help her and her family escape the hell they are in. But will the man Lena is coming to love succeed, or will he end up dead at the hands of an old enemy?
“The outstanding thing about Ms. West’s novels is that they take the standard romantic suspense tropes and give them a shake, making them fresh and new.” 5 Star Amazon review