This week I am featuring Katie Ernst, a New Adult author whose book "The Long Game" was recently released under the pen name J.L. Fynn.
The Long Game by J.L. Fynn
Smooth talking. Ambitious. Loyal. Twenty-year-old Shay Reilly has proven himself to his Irish-American Gypsy clan on small-scale cons, but now the clan leader has a bigger mission for him: playing the long game.
To rake in the big score he’s after, he needs to con coed Spencer into falling in love with him. He knows he should see Spencer as a mere means to an end, but that’s easier said than done when there’s a witty, attractive girl in your arms.
Now the only thing that can keep them apart is the thing that brought them together: Shay’s plans of revenge against someone who wronged his clan and family years before—Spencer’s father.
Try it for yourself! Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK
Travelers, Writing and Racial Insensitivity by Katie Ernst (also known as J.L. Fynn)
People often ask me where I got the idea to write a book about Irish Travelers. I’d like to pretend I’m so studious that I ran across this fascinating group reading news articles, but in fact, it was from watching the short-lived FX show, The Riches. The show was about Irish Travelers (aka Irish Gypsies) who were part of a con artist clan. Only spanning eight episodes, the show was engrossing, but it wasn’t able to delve too deeply into Traveler culture.
However, what the show was able to do was pique my interest. Do Irish Travelers truly exist in the United States? What are their real customs and traditions? Are they actually con artists? A quick Google search led to six months of research. Eventually I endeavored to read every single book written about American Travelers and a lot more about Travelers in general.
There’s a lot more known about the Irish Traveler community in Ireland and the UK because abroad they’re more open about their culture and identity. (They can even be seen in shows such as the BBC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding which was later shown on TLC in the United States.)
Irish-American Travelers, however, are far more secretive. They blend in more easily in the United States, and they prefer to keep it that way. Research led me to believe that there is a criminal element among Travelers. (Not surprising, given that there’s a criminal element in every ethnic group.) But because of Travelers’ itinerant nature, the sort of crimes they commit are different than settled people. This idea intrigued me, so I decided to explore it in my book.
But who am I to write about Irish Travelers? I’m neither Irish nor a Traveler. Is it wrong of me to appropriate another culture for my own literary purposes? It is racially insensitive (at best) for me to portray these characters as con artists when obviously not all Travelers are criminals?
I’ve wrestled with these questions, and let me tell you, if you think there are easy answers then you haven’t thought about it hard enough. First, let’s start with the fact that the Travelers in my book are portrayed as con artists. Is anyone who writes about the Italian mafia a racist? Do works such as The Sopranos, The Godfather, or Goodfellas imply that all Italians are criminals? Are those writers racially insensitive because they play into racial stereotypes? Are they motivated by racial animus? Or is it that the mafia is just plain interesting?
People like to read books or watch movies about people living extreme lives. Lives far different from their own. I didn’t portray Travelers in my book as con artists because I’m trying to make a statement about the criminal nature of their ethnic group. I did it because a family who travels around the country conning unsuspecting “buffers” is interesting.
I have no agenda beyond that, whether right or wrong. In my mind, reading first and foremost should be interesting. With every book I write, that’s my number one goal. The Long Game is called “fast-paced” by nearly everyone who reads it. I can tell you it wouldn’t be if it were about a family of law abiding driveway pavers. These sorts of reviews—the ones where the reader said she/he couldn’t put the book down—are what I’m driving for. And what, hopefully, I’ve achieved.