Why Invent Saharin?
The American experience of homophobia, systemic racism and mental health stigmas is highly varied across regions and ever-changing. A fictional place requests listening to experiences that may not match the readers. Compare and contrast and critically consider but do not invalidate because 'it's not really like that.' Too much persists because empathy cannot be developed for denied experiences. A Japanese-flavored setting lends itself to being conservative and openly antagonistic toward the 'other' while not often exploding into horrors I do not wish to write. The experiences I had while growing up. Setting the story in the past would also invalidate the characters' experiences because, 'it's not like that anymore.' It's true that for some people in some places, things are much better. We still have a long way to go. It's likely people who pick up these books are already empathetic toward the 'other.' The Kintsugi novels are not designed to convince people who cannot hear the cries for change. These books are aimed to entertain while providing representation for the 'other.' The true damage done by any society is to present only select ways to be. I spent most of my life trying to pound my irregular block into a square hole, constantly bruised and chipping. I didn't know I didn't have to fit in that hole. I didn't know I don't have to fit in any hole. The only thing that matters is that I am happy with myself. Still working on that. LGBTQ+ stories are necessary to shift the paradigm and expand the definition of happily ever after. In the same way, mental health must be treated openly and be shown to be a journey that can have a happy ending. Erik, Ren and Musashi's experiences are exaggerated, simplified and sped-up to form a compelling, young adult story but their struggles are real. It is the author's hope that young adults and even mature adults find these stories enjoyable to read and that those who need it find a refreshing take on the struggles they and those around them may be experiencing.