Q&A with Colleen: Themes

Around 15 years ago, my best friend had some time to read, so I gave her a bunch of book suggestions. I can remember a few:

  • Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong
  • Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown
  • Patricia McKillip’s Forgotten Beasts of Eld
  • Meredith Ann Pierce’s Darkangel

After my friend read them, she pointed out to me that all my favorite books were about a young, ostracized female who talks to animals, develops amazing healing powers, and ends up saving the world. I laughed because it was true, and I hadn’t even noticed.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that my tastes have expanded somewhat. That particular theme does come out occasionally in my own work, but as I’m middle-aged, not ostracized, and I connect with people more than animals these days (I often felt the reverse when I was younger) it’s harder for me to Mary Sue that story line into a writing project. So this leads me to the second question in my Q&A:

What themes do you pursue?

I pursue the same themes in writing as I do in my daily life, as the writing is an exploration of identity, my own reality, my perspective on society, cultures, and relationship, sublimated and expressed in metaphor. I like to look at how the outer and inner worlds reflect one another, particularly in the shadow. How can external conflict be resolved through inner growth and a shift in consciousness? Where are we enslaved by our conditions, and how can we free ourselves to cause reality instead of being the effect of past creations? How can we heal self and society?

When I write erotica, it’s a little less deep, but a lot more fun. Plot becomes secondary and the stories come from a different place—the characters take on their own lives and play how they will. Despite the lack of depth in these stories, I do enjoy making an oblique commentary on fantasy vs. reality.

I seem to have written quite a lot about detached penises, but I think that whatever that is has worked itself out.