I started writing the first draft for what would eventually become my debut novella, Izzy Hartley and the Luminal Magnifier, in 2008. Back then it wasn’t unrecognisable, but definitely different. The broad strokes of the plot were there, however, and that included the fight against fascism.
Schlestelovakia, the tiny central-European dictatorship, had a different name but the same kind of jackbooted thuggery. Certainly there was, and still is, a comedic element to it all. After all, fascists deserve to be ridiculed. But the seriousness was there. A gun in the hands of an imbecile who believes in ‘racial purity’ is still very much a gun.
All the time I was writing it, up until I published it, I always believed that the message against fascism it held was an incidental one. That much like the Indiana Jones series, fascism as the enemy was not something I really needed to explain, that the inherent dangers of it were more than evident.
I’m starting to think I was wrong.
This year alone has seen a marked and, quite frankly, terrifying rise in fascist thought and action. A woman was murdered and the murderer gave his name as ‘death to traitors,’ newspaper headlines have echoed those from 1930s Germany, calling out ‘enemies of the people.’ The race to the White House in the United States was won through rhetoric of exiling foreigners, committing war crimes, and a fervent chant of making the country ‘great again.’
All this is incredibly worrying. I don’t want to live in a country that blames the poor and the needy for all of its problems, but I do. I don’t want my prime minister to sacrifice the wellbeing of children in favour of tax breaks for the wealthy and nuclear-armed submarines, but she does. I don’t want the opposition party to wring their hands and talk about meeting in the middle. When someone is pulling you over a cliff, you don’t move towards them. You pull back, and you pull hard.
I am a writer who doesn’t hold a lot of sway. I don’t have the fanbase of Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. I’m not the voice of a generation, I’m barely a whisper in a crowded room. But I’m hoping that I can at least reassure my readers that they are not alone, that there are ways out of this, and that they can be strong in the face of this adversity.
I will keep writing books where fascism is rejected, where it is the enemy, and where it is defeated. Because as much as my work is fiction, I want to see a world where that part becomes fact.
I’m not giving up, and I hope none of you give up either.