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  • Writer's pictureLeanne W. Smith

Contradiction is a noun

An inconsistency.

A paradox.

A statement of a position opposite to one already made, according to my computer’s built-in dictionary.

Personally, I am a mess of contradictions.

I’m cold natured. Except in the mornings.

I don’t like the taste of coffee. But I drink an awful lot of it.

I love a clean house. Just not enough to scrub mine.

And I long to be the brave, active woman featured in an Athleta catalog. Problem is, I’m too chicken to climb, surf and scuba dive.

Lastly, I (try) to teach students not to use the word “I” so frequently, and yet I have dotted this article with that very(another word I strike from their papers) narcissistic pronoun.

Many of the characters in my new historical fiction novel, A Contradiction to His Pride, are also a mess of contradictions.

When James first meets Corrine in Leaving Independence, he says to his friend, Hoke, “You don’t see many girls that pretty with such a healthy dose of sass. Now me, I favor a sassy woman, where some men would take it as a contradiction to their pride.”

That claim was too tempting for me not to explore it.

Turns out, James’s pride undergoes many threats in this story. Corrine’s, too. When Corrine’s eyes are opened to some truths she doesn’t like, she’s faced with the conflict of her own opinions.

Tam Woodford (now Sims) becomes a more prominent character in Contradiction. On the surface Tam is the kind of woman Athleta would feature in its catalog—fearless, competent, “with arms and grit so strong” that most men and women find her intimidating. And yet Tam proves to be vulnerable in ways that I, as the author, didn’t see coming.

Other characters reveal contradictions: an outlaw, vicious now, but who didn’t start out that way; a cocky sheriff hiding a painful secret; and a spunky little woman who doesn’t weigh much more than a sack of cattle feed, who proves to be the tiny acorn that raised a mighty oak.

A Contradiction to His Pride is, in itself, a contradiction. When I finished Leaving Independence and people asked me if I would write a sequel, I said no. I thought I was philosophically opposed to them.

I try to employ hara hachi bu as a writer. I want to stop the scenes, the descriptions, the blog posts, and the stories while you still want to read them, not past the limit of your interest.

And yet, here we are. I continued to hear this story, so I wrote it.

In these weeks leading up to the official release of Contradiction, I’ve gone against my natural “lay low” inclinations as an introvert and writer in an effort to get the word out. If you’ve stuck with me and haven’t opted out, I thank you. My goal was to give you a sneak peek into the struggles of characters that, while fictional, feel like friends. I guess that’s a contradiction, too: the “real” in the fable, what Stephen King calls the “truth in the lie.”

Here, here to the freedom to be human, complex, and a mess of contradictions.

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