Penning Political Satire with Truth, and True Crimes

In honor of recent news about a grand jury convened in New York to examine evidence of criminal activity of the former guy in the White House—already under indictment in my Other Worldly series for his many crimes, both heinous and petty—I offer this blog post, because I was once told writing about him couldn’t—or shouldn’t—be done.

You can’t do politics in fiction, I was advised, or pen a character so blatantly similar to a US president, because it might alienate readers. You don’t want to cross that line. Oh the irony. And another good reason to self-publish.

Plus, if a president can commit crimes and eviscerate the Constitution along with his attorney general, resulting in actual crime scenes and crimes against humanity, I can concoct fictional scenes derived from it. Those who refuse to acknowledge truth and embrace bigotry are not my target audience anyway.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one who wrote about the atrocity that was the last presidential administration,  and he is the most hilarious and wonderful satirical novelist ever: Carl Hiaasen.

Hiaasen often infuses a pro-environment theme in his tales of the Sunshine State, spotlighting senseless destruction wrought by unbridled greed. A concept tailor-made for a tyrannical monster empowered by corrupt profiteers out to destroy our environment and our democracy.

Some folks worship false gods (yes, I mean Republicans touting their twisted idea of Christianity), others follow favorite rock stars. My rock stars are authors who tickle my funny bone and satisfy a deep need for justice—environmental and every other kind. Carl Hiaasen never disappoints.

We all need more humor in our lives, though in my case I didn’t set out to be funny when I first began drafting Alienable Rights. Perhaps reading the brilliance of Hiaasen was my inspiration.

Last year as I drafted Feeling Alienated—a perfect title for writing in pandemic isolation and a summer of political turmoil and violent injustice—I also read Squeeze Me. Set in Palm Beach, Florida, a group of high-society dowagers dub themselves Potussies in their undying devotion to the Winter White House resident.

In Squeeze Me, the Adderall-addicted, anti-immigrant, idiot-in-chief golfer has a younger, foreign, not-his-first wife who’s obsessed with fashion and not particularly enamored of her husband. Sound familiar?

Sometimes, as Hiaasen shows, elements of truth are what make fiction so cathartic, brightening even the worst and most absurd of times. Reading his political satire, and writing my own, helped get me through the vile corruption and cruelty of the last administration.

As in my Other Worldly series, the name of this president will not be mentioned herein. But in my novels he is an illiterate misogynist who attacks female journalists on Twitter, though he can’t spell their names or anything else correctly, while he deems most women and all aliens to be “nasty.” Especially women like protagonist Rowan Layne who promotes alien rights.

My not-so-very presidential villain may not golf, but he abuses his power to attempt to destroy Earth’s moon. Because he’s not only denied visitation rights, he’s also been foiled in efforts to purchase it with taxpayer dollars—and put his name in bright lights across its surface. Hence, he throws a dangerous tantrum. Sound familiar?

I don’t want to include too many spoilers, but there may just be a female alien attorney general in this putrid president’s future, handing down much-deserved indictments for crimes against women, humanity and aliens.

In real life, the criminal indictment of a maniacal monster who staged an insurrection to destroy our democracy can’t come soon enough.

Carl Hiaasen’s next novel can’t arrive soon enough either, because there are always universal troubles we need to escape from—or triumph over.

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