*As a guide that has a robust feminine lead, has bought hundreds of copies and has drawn curiosity from those that want to translate it into a film or TV show, “If She Were Blind” has already achieved an amount of distinction most authors only dream of.
Writer Laney Wylde describes how she got here up with the soapy parts of the legal thriller, which tells the story of Estlyn Collins, a young black lady in Santa Monica who units up her authorized service, After Twelve, to work outdoors the courtroom to deliver to justice those the legal justice system has failed.
“I had just completed a manuscript for a novel that my beta readers didn’t like”, stated Wylde to EURweb throughout an exclusive interview. “Going through the self-indulgent ‘I’ll never write again” melodrama that adopted, I requested my husband if individuals would read a e-book a few lady you possibly can pay to get revenge for you. He took my self-pity wine away and stated, ‘Yes. Undoubtedly. Write that.’”
As her vision for Estlyn got here into focus, Wylde began including many layers to the character – specifically what makes her who she is and why she does what she does.
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“At first glance, Estlyn looks cutthroat, self-serving, and cunning. I mean, she profits off the desperate, those cheated by the justice system”, stated Wylde. “But, Estlyn truly sees herself as the ultimate scale-tipper, even outside her job. For instance, she chose her career path––and even her college major before that––because people she loves can no longer work in those professions.”
“She’s loyal to a select few”, Wylde continued. “Everyone else is a means to an end, and she has no qualms about using people if it’ll get someone else the justice they deserve.”
“It’s hard for me to say I determine what makes Estlyn who she is”, she added. “I give most of my characters a back story and a basic desire, and let them tell me who they are from there. Yes, it is artsy nonsense.”
What isn’t nonsense and one thing Wylde knew and took critically is that she needed to make the lead of “If She Were Blind” – and any subsequent books she might write starring Estlyn Collins – a black lady.
“I grew up in a conservative environment with lots of subtle racism. Whenever the news showed an unarmed black man gunned down by the police, my family, which would later include a police officer, said that they got what was coming to them because they were running away. But… why weren’t officers using tasers at close range?”, Wylde asked. “How (I thought) could the officer in my family defend Trayvon Martin’s killer? He wasn’t even a cop.We even had cops beating and kicking a white guy out here in San Bernardino after the chase was clearly over, (but) I didn’t have an environment where I could ask these questions without coming across as valuing black lives over blue, or, worse, ‘liberal.’”
“I realized that this series was an opportunity to challenge my own racism by stepping into the skin of a character who was not only black, but who had life experiences and beliefs that differed wildly from mine”, Wylde continued. “Sure, I wanted white people like me to read it and see a new perspective, but my original motivations weren’t to make some statement or have an influence. They were personal. I felt an internal incongruance that I wanted to work out by empathizing with a group of people whose fears and pain I had learned to dismiss.”
“If She Were Blind” is slightly more soapy than a straight action/courtroom yarn and Wylde stated that’s intentional.
“Absolutely”, she stated. “I proudly write smut with purpose”.
After laughing a bit, she elaborates on what she means.
“Real talk, there are a lot of white, conservative-raised people – like me – who will pick up a romance novel or thriller, but have no interest in reading about systemic racism, inequality in the justice system, or police brutality”, she stated matter-of-factly. “Within the first few chapters, ‘If She Were Blind’ doesn’t appear to be about any of those. Once it does, I’ve had some readers flip this switch from loving it to recoiling in offense. So it’s sort of a bait-and-switch, though that feeling of guilty pleasure stays consistent throughout the entire series.”
Early on within the e-book, Estlyn has a one night time stand. In as we speak’s PC occasions, any component like that written a few character – however particularly a black lady – is put underneath a microscope and runs the danger of offending the communities they’re representing.
Does Wylde take into consideration such issues?
“All. The. F*cking. Time”, Wylde stated with emphasis. “The one-night-stand plagued me with thoughts of ‘Does that portray her as an over sexualized Jezebel, perpetuating a centuries old stereotype?’ and ‘Why isn’t she allowed to have a one-night-stand because of a stereotype? Isn’t that unfair?’ and ‘Screw it. It’s necessary for the story’.”
“Each time I wavered over stuff like this, my friend Lizzie would tell me that I was treating black people as ‘others’ and would ask common sense questions like, ‘How would you feel if you were Estlyn?’ and ‘Isn’t this a universal human experience?’ and ‘Can’t you just relax and write your damn story?’ Once I stopped panicking, the book flowed pretty easily.”
“However, I recently finished writing Book Three of the series, during which I was paralyzed with fear of offending just about everyone because some of the risks I took”, she added. “So, that anxiety over misrepresenting or outright insulting never goes away. I figure though, if I really screw up, I can apologize, I can learn from it, and I can do my best to make it right.”
One other potential controversial part of the guide is that Estlyn stated she will get “paid to ruin other people’s lives”, however it winds up being extra difficult than that.
“After Twelve id where people go after twelve jurors have failed them, though Estlyn also does cases in which the law or karma has let clients down in other ways”, Wylde stated. “I know the whole vigilante justice thing has been done before, but I liked the idea of having a character who is resourceful and intelligent enough get retribution without resorting to violence. So, After Twelve is a legal firm that works in and outside the law, and definitely by referral only.”
“It’s hard for me to point to one thing that inspired the idea, but I’ve always had this craving for justice and outrage when I see people denied it”, Wylde continued. “So, I think writing a book like this was sort of inevitable. It was just one of those stories that I had to tell.”
Wylde uses a singular literary system during which totally different elements of the story at totally different occasions are informed by totally different characters. She stated she did so for a very particular purpose.
“The main reason I did that was to capture Michael’s (Estlyn’s deceased lover) story with as much integrity as possible. There’s no way I could have told it from any perspective but his own”, stated Wylde. “I also love the contrasting voices of Cal (Estlyn’s new paramour) and Estlyn, how they view their relationships differently and I think it adds this tension for the reader that a third person narrative would without losing the intimacy of that first person voice.”
From the duvet art and angle, Estlyn seems like she was modeled after a certain “Scandal” star.
“Okay, so full-disclosure, the cover art was inspired by the documentary 13th, because that was the first work that opened my eyes to persisting racism in our country”, stated Wylde. “Sure, Estlyn is a Kerry Washington type, but I based her look off Zendaya. As the series unfolds, I think it becomes clear that Estlyn is much softer than she appears in ‘If She Were Blind’. I love me a kick ass female lead, but I never neglect that vulnerable side either.”
“But, I’ll say this: it’s for people who like steamy romance, irreverent humor (which only half of readers find funny), and fast-paced politically themed stories based on current events. It’s a weird mix.”
So, what does the title, “If She Were Blind” imply to Wylde?
“‘She’ is Lady Justice”, she stated. “The title refers to white privilege in our justice system.”
“To me the conflict in the book and the main theme is that Estlyn wants justice justice for someone she loved years before the first chapter, and the person she screwed over wants to hire After Twelve to screw her over, not knowing After Twelve is her”, she stated laughing. “A lot of the conflict in the book stems from Estlyn trying to outrun this and cope, however poorly.”
“The most prevalent theme is that of the lack of justice in Estlyn’s life and how it represents racial injustice on a grander scale in American society”, Wylde concluded. “It’s a systemic problem, with few seeing it and even fewer trying to solve it––one of those few being Estlyn.”