Here is the second batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations!
They Visit Ranette
Ranette was a late addition to the story. I didn’t start building her until I was working on chapter ten or so. (All earlier references to her were added in during revisions.)
I was feeling there was a hole in the story, that it needed one more character, probably a woman. I also wanted to add a gunsmith to the book, and so I started working on who she would be. Some hints of her personality came from the other character from the original short story. (Remember, the person who became Wayne was riding into town on a kandra with a horse’s body. That kandra was female.) The personality I’d been developing there eventually jumped rails to become Ranette.
She’s not kandra any longer, and I shifted some pieces of who she was to make her a more complete person. If you didn’t catch the hint from Wax, she is indeed a lesbian, though it’s not much of a big deal for the book. I try to find places for LGBT characters in the novels. (There’s another one in The Way of Kings.) However, I back off from making much of an issue about it.
I guess I could be accused of not giving them full representation because of the fact that they usually have minor roles. The truth is that I’m worried I’d just do a poor job of it if I tried to write from their viewpoint; being gay is one of those things that tends to be very dominant in a person’s way of seeing the world. It seems that there are a lot of pitfalls that I could saunter right into. I’ve think learned, after a lot of work, how to write female characters who (hopefully) don’t feel wrong. However, I haven’t taken the dive in trying to figure out how to write a gay or lesbian character.
But that’s only one reason. There’s a deeper one for me. Ranette will likely get viewpoints in the series, when I do more Wax and Wayne books. However, the books aren’t about sexual identity, so I’ll probably steer clear of that topic. In a way, I think that making a big deal of it could be more harmful. One of the reasons I put LGBT characters in my books is because they are a part of our world, and deserve representation in fiction. It’s strange to think that in our world, LGBT people make up a significant minority of the population, yet in fiction (particularly fantasy fiction) they tend to either vanish completely or the story has to be all about who they are and their sexuality.
This strikes me as a bad way to do things. Just like not every book including women characters should be about feminism, not every book including LGBT characters should be about sexual orientation or gender identity issues. If they are, then that just highlights the supposition that they’re out of the ordinary—it draws attention to that idea, rather than simply letting them be characters with a larger role in the story. We don’t care about Lord Harms’s sexuality, or Mister Suit’s, or that of Miles. Why shine a big spotlight on Ranette’s? It just seems divisive to me.
Anyway, those are just a few of my thoughts on the topic. Perhaps they will change as I ponder on it more.