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westbook <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 3 Jan 2017 18:13:03 -0500
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A new novel of mine, TOM AND HUCK'S HOWLING ADVENTURE will be published this year. (ARCs out about March or April). The N-word is used maybe a half-dozen times in a 65,000 word book, but it never appears in the voice of the unseen narrator. Mostly it's used by the headstrong, adventure-loving Tom Sawyer who flings it out there with no intent to demean--only as a descriptive term he's heard all his life. 
    I did my very best to recreate the dialect, ideosyncracies and motivations of Twain's original characters. At one place in the story, even Jim remarks, in a rare moment of disillusionment, "Po niggers don't have no luck."  
    A sequel to this book, TOM SAWYER'S DARK PLOT, is in the pipeline. I can't recall using the N-word at all in this one (but it's been a few months since I finished it). DARK PLOT is a totally different story from the first one. 
    Several well-meaning friends tried to dissuade me from using the word at all, substituting "slave", but I felt it necessary to be true to Twain's style by including it where I felt it was needed (the right word vs. the almost-right word). On a second revision, I did eliminate it in 3 or 4 places where I judged it wasn't really necessary. 
    If my editor had made an issue of my use of the word, I probably would have caved in and eliminated the term, thereby, in my mind, making my novel slightly less truthful and accurate. But neither editor nor publisher even mentioned it, so I consider it a non-issue. 
    I will write a third and final book in this trilogy this year. 
    Frankly, I'm much more put off by modern usage of the F___ word and other such stuff in print where this type of language is used for shock effect, rather than to tell a good story.
    Just my 2-cent's worth.
Tim Champlin