When I first started writing Majoring in Death, I was writing about the difficulties in my own life. The trials of college, my best friend changing into a stranger, and new people coming into my life when I wanted nothing more than for everything to remain as it was. I added a little magic, a little Other-worldliness, because those issues are somehow more palatable when we’re also dealing with something so unfamiliar.
But as I wrote, during those frantic thirty fall days, I realised that this had to become bigger than just me. I was writing about Death, and gods, and had plans for an Apocalypse—and I wanted to juxtapose that with the seemingly mundane issues of new adulthood. The Portents affect the entire universe; I had to make the story bigger.
So I started writing about the consequences these personal issues had on the world at large. My characters were at the centre of the universe, and it couldn’t be pleasant or gratifying the way so many fantasise it to be. An argument between Life and Death could very well rip this universe of mine apart. Everything they were, everything they did, reflected on the rest of humanity, the rest of the world, the rest of the universe. Everything had consequences.
As my characters fell to pieces, so the world followed. I created links to real political disasters, ecological horrors, the worst of humanity. It wasn’t to blame everything that had gone wrong on Celestial beings. On the contrary, these terrible things were often humanity’s doing. But I wanted to show, in simpler terms, that hatred and cruelty could fester if no one resisted. I just tried to give that struggle a form we could understand.
When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and the world watched with the kind of attention usually reserved for a natural disaster, I felt hopeless. I wasn’t a Celestial being. I didn’t have the divine power to change the course of events. We’ve seen how he conducts business, what he thinks of politics, what he thinks of humanity and our home.
The Paris Agreement was a beacon of hope for those who wanted to save the planet. Trump crushed that hope when he decided to pull America’s support away. He disrespected the planet, the country he is supposed to represent, and every other country who came together to sign that Agreement. He betrayed the people who trusted him, the people who had no choice but to follow him, and the people who could do nothing to oppose him.
As our world begins to spiral even further into the abyss, I’m outlining the sequel to Majoring in Death. I look at everything that is steadily worsening, the efforts that people make to push back, and I remember: Everything has consequences.
Sometimes they’re good. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes you don’t realise what happened, sometimes it’s staring you right in the face. Sometimes it happens right away, and sometimes it takes forever. But everything has consequences.
When I write this sequel, and its sequel, I’ll remember why the story got bigger. I’ll remember that because this story needed to be big enough to encompass the whole world—the whole of humanity—it became more than just one book. That’s a small consequence (well, relatively speaking. It means a lot more work on my end). But I hope that this story has a larger consequence. I hope that when people read it, they see the story in the world around them, and find the power to change it.
That’s why I write. And there’s another consequence.