Content Notes: The Healers’ Road

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. I will try to be plot-vague, but specific enough to be useful. These are probably also out of order.

Overall statements of intent

I’m a white person writing about characters from a variety of fictional racial and cultural backgrounds. I strive to build complex characters, cultures and worlds that aren’t built on lazy shortcuts or the shortcomings of our own world, but I also bring in my own unconscious biases in this area. I welcome good-faith comment on my work, and seek to improve whenever I fall short.

The world in which the Healers books and any future spin-offs take place is intentionally one without homophobia or transphobia (and the rest of their archipelago of phobias), and as little ingrained sexism as I can consciously manage.

In other words, queer people exist, and it’s never a problem to anyone. Similarly, women are considered equal to men and always have been. My characters can be obnoxious for a vast array of reasons, but not because of another character’s sexuality, sex, gender or gender presentation. Their world doesn’t give such biases a pass. Being a homophobe/etc. isn’t a part of anyone’s religion or culture, no one considers it normal to be shitty about it, it just isn’t accepted and effectively doesn’t exist.

Why? It’s my story, and I decide how to build the world. So that’s how I built it. You can do that. It’s fiction.

That’s my goal while writing. I acknowledge that I bring in my own unconscious biases, welcome good-faith comment on those aspects as well, and seek to improve when I fall short.

I choose not to use sexual assault or the threat thereof as a plot point or backstory in my work. Part of that comes out of building gender equality into the setting; part of it is because I simply choose not to.

I don’t generally write about children in peril, though child death is mentioned in book 3 (The Healers’ Purpose).

 I don’t write about companion animals in peril. If they show up, they’re going to be okay.

It’s kind of a surprise to me that religion has such a big role in my work, because I’m not religious, and was raised with only the barest cursory gestures toward one. But belief ended up being a core part of one of the narrators of the Healers series, and so it’s pretty pervasive.

Details about the various religions and factions will eventually be outlined on the Lore pages of this site, but my point here is that none of the fictional religions in my work are intended as a commentary on or recommendation for any real-world religion. They’re all melanges of various cultural influences, wrapped around ideas/ethical frameworks that I thought it would be interesting to explore. That’s all.

The Healers series

 The most frequent content warnings for the Healers series overall are medical gore, depressive internal monologue (particularly in book 1), and rudeness sometimes bordering on fictional racism. One of the narrators is bisexual, and it comes up fairly frequently. (I count that as a positive TBH, but reviews have commented on it, so it may be worth noting.) There’s a lot of religious references in the series as well, primarily in book 1 but continuing throughout. One of the narrators is deeply religious, and the other is not; the differences between their worldviews are a part of their character arcs. The story itself doesn’t take a stance either way.

The Healers’ Road

  • Swearing: a scattering of mild ones (mostly d—n and two jacka—es), and two f—s in the same scene (of the “f—you/that” style)
  • For the first half of the book, the two narrators are very rude and dismissive to one another, and habitually refer to one another by their national origin (“the Nessinian” / “the Yanweian”). These are plain descriptors and not slurs, like calling someone “the American” – there’s just a level of disregard that is intentionally off-putting.
  • One of the narrators also sometimes refers to the other as a “heathen”, as he is religious and the other character is an atheist.
  • One of the narrators is a recovering alcoholic, and has what we’d probably call depression and PTSD. He expresses a lot of hopelessness in the early chapters, both generally about his life and specifically related to a recent romantic breakup.This pattern eases off over the course of the book as the character’s life stressors change, though the character is never “cured”.
  • One of the narrators is a non-custodial parent and, at the start of the book, does not expect to see his child again – an attitude reinforced by his depression, but not entirely unreasonable based on the circumstances.
  • A character does surgery on a patient’s arm, with moderately gory description
  • A character does magical healing with some gory description – one patient’s arm, and later another patient’s stomach
  • One violent incident over two chapters: both narrators are robbed, one is struck in the face and held at knifepoint to the back and neck, the other has an arm twisted and a resulting shoulder injury. A character uses magic specifically to cause pain to another character’s optic nerve.
  • Two male characters have internal monologue and dialogue expressing attraction to one another, followed by a fade-to-black implied sex scene
  • Two characters (m/f) have internal monologue and some dialogue expressing attraction to one another, with on-page kissing (SIDE NOTE: these are not the narrators)
  • Discussion of a character’s experiences with homelessness
  • Both narrators get sick with fevers and are incapacitated for a few days (this was, considering the time it was written, mostly influenced by H1N1 in 2009)
  • A character (not the recovering alcoholic) gets mildly drunk on-page