I was always one of those kids with a keen sense of fairness. I drove my parents crazy protesting that my brother didn’t have to do the dishes (or much of anything, as far as my sister and I could see). I irritated local officials and principals alike by railing against the local soapbox derby’s boys-only rule and the requirement that all girls take home economics. Sunday school teachers nursed headaches after I demanded to know why a just and loving God would send pagan babies to burn in the eternal torment of hellfire if they died without hearing our version of religion.
In other words, I had a penchant for asking the tough questions. It didn’t stop when I grew older, but gradually, I came to understand more of the world’s complexities – and the social consequences of warring against every inequity I noticed. Still, that didn’t make things fair, so I turned my frustrations inward, pouring them into fictional worlds where I could tease out the shades of gray, decipher my version of justice, and dispense it accordingly. In my queendom, the good guys (of both genders) are rewarded. Even the less-than-perfect who try hard end up with good outcomes, albeit after suffering a lot of growing pains. And the villains? In the end, they get theirs, just as villains should.
It’s incredibly satisfying. Much more so than the evening news, where ongoing conflicts show no signs of easing, where the worst of criminals all too often get away after shattering the lives of innocents, where greed triumphs over nature, and my stomach ties itself in knots. The Queendom of Justice is a respite, too, from daily life, where teenagers whine, bills mount, dogs urp on the carpet, and my mother in law gets away with telling me my clothes are tacky just because she’s old.
Is it any wonder that writing fiction is addictive and that books with happy endings ease the stress of so many of faithful readers? Something in all of us (except those musty-fusty critics who inexplicably turn their backs on the uncomplicated joy that drew them to stories in the first place) yearns for a world where, without exception, the mystery is solved, the mortal threat vanquished, the evil punished, and flawed yet worthy human beings find the love that they deserve.
Come with me, and I’ll take you to such a place in my books. Or follow me to a library, and I’ll take you to an endlessly varied galaxy of just worlds, each one a place of respite for the soul.