I wanted to write a blog post about this, because since Witcheskin has been re-released, I decided to make some amendments based on what I’ve heard people saying in reviews. I want to reiterate that I don’t read reviews unless someone points me to them directly, mainly for my own mental health. I got asked directly by my PR manager as someone had asked whether I would make these amendments, so I want to talk about what’s been changed and why I changed it.
Mentions of ‘donkey’ or ‘donkey lashes’
I explained about this in a previous post some time ago. I chose not to change this for a long time because I felt that people weren’t understanding the language I had used. The characters I write use a lot of colloquial British language, slang and regional dialect, and the phrase ‘donkey lashes’ is one of those phrases commonly used where I come from. I think some people misinterpreted it as a racist slur, which is absolutely not what was meant by that. The thought that anyone would think I would write something horrible about a character I love so much makes me incredibly sad, especially since the phrase ‘donkey lashes’ is in fact a very nice compliment!
I decided to check with someone I know, who comes from Syria, about whether comparing someone to a donkey is an offensive thing where he comes from. Of course, Syria is only a small part of the Middle East, but he is Muslim and was raised in Muslim society. When I asked him about it, he actually laughed at me. He said that it’s no different to calling someone an ass, or an idiot, in English language, and that ‘donkey lashes’ isn’t a phrase he’d heard of before. When I explained it to him, he said that he did not think it was offensive. Of course, this is just one person’s opinion, just as finding the phrase offensive is another person’s opinion.
I decided to amend the book and remove the phrases because I love Maredudd; he’s very important to me, and I also think Owen would be horrified if anyone ever thought he would say something cruel about him. I think sometimes people assume that American English is the only version of English out there; ironic, considering British English is the original English, but there it is. There is a lot of British language that American speakers don’t recognise or understand, and also that non-native British speakers don’t recognise either. There’s even misunderstanding between British people from different localities! It’s a sad world when readers won’t make any attempt to understand slang or dialect (from any language, not just English) they’ve never seen before and instantly jump straight to being offended by it.
— Yorkshire Slang (@YorkshireSlang) June 15, 2016
Of course, I want the message in my writing to be clear, so amending that erases any possibility that someone would misunderstand what Owen was saying about Maredudd.
Owen’s conversation about Wenda’s poly relationship
Okay, so this one actually made me chuckle quite a bit because I am actually poly myself and I live in a triad with my two partners. When I wrote this part of the story, I never thought that it would be interpreted that Owen is disgusted by Wenda’s poly relationship with Evan and Geraint. Reading it back to myself, I can see how that might be construed, so I decided to add in an extra sentence to make it clear that it’s actually Geraint that Owen is disgusted by, not the poly aspect! Owen doesn’t like that Wenda is dating Geraint, because Geraint is always nasty towards him, and imagining his father being in a relationship with the person who keeps hurling transphobic abuse at him makes Owen feel very uneasy. I hope that the additional sentence will make that clearer.
I want to write some more stories in future with poly relationships in them, since this is something I haven’t written about in detail just yet, but is a major part of my life.
Maredudd saying Morcant is not his real father
I chose not to amend this, because this is something that is quite close to me, and I think ultimately Maredudd’s words are his to speak about his relationship with Morcant. I can understand where someone is coming from when they say that saying an adoptive parent is not someone’s real parent can undermine the relationship between the non-bio parent and child. My children aren’t genetically mine; biologically, I had nothing to do with their conception. Does that mean that I’m not their ‘real dad’? Of course I’m their father, and kids will use ‘real’ in a less nuanced way to adults. But, coming from a family where one of my parents and their sibling was adopted, I’ve seen a different aspect of what it means to not be related to your family members. I learned as an older child that the grandparents I adored were not genetically related to me, and it totally changed how I viewed the world.
I’m not going to talk in detail about my parent and their experience with being adopted since it’s not my story to tell, but I will talk about my experience with that. I knew my biological grandmother, saw her regularly as a child, but I knew her as some kind of additional auntie or family friend and never understood who she was to me. I think my parent always needed to know who their biological parents were, and I think that’s something many adopted people go through. I also think calling someone your ‘real parent’ is no different to saying your ‘biological parent’; it’s just a turn of phrase.
I do feel that some people have an idea of how adoption and non-bio parenting should be portrayed in fiction, but in the real world it doesn’t always work that way. Many adopted people still see their bio parents as their ‘real parents’ and that’s just how it is. Maredudd knows that Morcant isn’t his biological father, and although he accepts that he will probably never see them, Maredudd thinks that his bio parents might still be out there.
This is just my opinion, based on my experiences, and in a way, those experiences are a part of Maredudd too, but that is why I decided not to change this part.
So, I actually ended up writing a lot more than I originally intended haha, but I suppose that’s a good thing since I realised I had more to say on the matter than I first thought! Sorry if some of it is a little meandering or doesn’t make sense; at the time of writing, I have quite a bad headache (obviously I’ve been playing too many video games). These amendments were made a week or two ago, so any copies sold from now on will have them. Obviously, if you acquire an older hard copy or an LT3 edition, it will still contain the original manuscript.