Disarming Discoveries: How I Wrote a Book and Joined a Cause
[The following is a guest blog post by author Seth Kaufman]
But with the recent publication of my novel, “Nuns with Guns,” the lines have become a bit blurred.
Let me start with the book. “Nuns with Guns” tells the story of a foul-mouthed Hollywood producer Rick Salter, who, incensed by gun violence, launches a reality TV show—called “Nuns with Guns,” of course—that follows four Catholic sisters as they compete to collect the most firearm donations. The show becomes an instant smash hit. As Rick says, “Who doesn’t love nuns?”
It turns out, though, a slew of pro-gun organizations don’t love these nuns one bit. There’s a right-wing backlash, a boycott and, eventually, death threats. Despite all that, the ratings climb higher, driven by the charismatic nuns—and the chilling specter of death that looms over every episode.
I had written about Rick Salter in a previous book about a hit reality show that featured contestants being tortured, “The King of Pain.” But I never expected to write about him again.
A few months after the horrifying and senseless Sandy Hook tragedy, it became clear Congress would not ban semiautomatic assault weapons. Upset and depressed, I asked myself, what would crazy Rick Salter do to publicize the need for increased gun safety? How would he battle the proliferation of guns and stop the madness? The three-word answer came to me in an instant. I put two other book projects on hold and started Nuns with Guns’ long journey into print.
The day before Nuns with Guns came out, Radaronline, an entertainment news site that covers a lot of reality TV, posted an article about the book. “The year’s best new reality show concept is actually a book!” the headline proclaimed.
The accompanying article called Nuns “as hilarious as it sounds…a hysterical yet timely book.”
That’s the kind of rave writers dream of getting. One day later, a friend sent me a link to gun-loving website, “The Truth About Guns,” that had spotted the same article. That site didn’t love Nuns with Guns at all, and criticized the very title of book. I violated my rule about never reading user comments and was greeted by scoffing and snarky attacks, and one truly vile anti-Semitic rant.
I’m not going to repeat that hate speech. But those posts reminded me that with Nuns with Guns I set out to write an entertaining, funny, disturbing novel that exposes the insanity, danger, delusion and greed surrounding gun sales in America, and that there’s clearly a long way to go until common sense prevails.
It also made me think one other thing.
Maybe I am an activist.