My Human Pet Themes
“My Human Pet” is not meant to be just another science fiction romance to be taken at face value, and there are many deeper meanings to it.
*BEWARE OF SPOILERS*
I begin the story with the words, "Shark attack," because it is more likely you will get eaten by a shark than abducted by aliens.
Ensley is proud to be a New Yorker because the press and propaganda in the US she has grown up with have told her she should be. The other women treat Ensley badly because she is from New York and because of the press and propaganda they have grown up with. If you hate Ensley for her behavior but can't see anything wrong with how the other women treat Ensley in that cage, you are just as prejudiced against anyone, not from the place you are from, as all those women are.
I purposely did not describe any characters' ethnicity until the aliens came in because I wanted to prove how prejudiced we all are based on where we are from in the first chapter. Once we know the women's ethnicities, it shouldn't change anything except to let readers know that Ensley is the smallest and the weakest.
As for language and readers saying, "Oh, how can the aliens be so advanced and not know Ensley is sentient?" Just like in the past on our own planet, there was propaganda that certain ethnicities were less cerebral than others. It was thought by Europeans until the 19th century that many ethnicities could not learn how to read or think complex thoughts. If you read to the end of "My Human Pet," you will realize that Seb figures out that everything he was told about humans is all government propaganda and that humans are no less intelligent than aliens (which is the whole point of the story, again and again, from chapter one and the women fighting because of where they are from to humans being seen as pets, it's all just propaganda from more important people than Seb or Ensley molding them into what their governments what them to be. It is the same with the women in the cage. The US has molded us into hating one another based on where we are from, the countryside or the city, the south, north, west coast, Midwest, etc.).
Half the sex in the book is not supposed to be romantic. It is sex for sex's sake. Primal, animalistic, and physical urges that have nothing to do with how one thinks. The sex in the book only becomes romantic after she and Seb get to know each other better. This was not a mistake.
When anyone is taken against their will, sold, and still remains a captive, no matter how "comfortable" the circumstances are, they are still slaves because they cannot make their own choices. What becomes confusing for Ensley is that she has fallen in love with her captor and is experiencing Stockholm Syndrome. This is why when she sees Jupiter, she asks how she ever could have doubted that she would want to return home.
Is Imperial culture fatphobic? Yes. Does Seb worry about his pet Ensley becoming overweight? Yes. Even on Earth pet owners are shamed for overfeeding. Does this make me as the author fatphobic? No. If you believe it does then you must also believe that horror writers torture people in their basements.
If you don't think that Seb returning for her with their son is not a HEA or at least HFN, then I seriously question your understanding of relationships. Especially when Seb tells Ensley that he read her book (which is literally My Human Pet), it becomes clear readers don't know how much of what is written in this book is true because she says, "sex sells."
AS THE READER, YOU MUST DECIDE WHAT ENSLEY TOLD US WAS THE TRUTH OR NOT?
This is an ongoing question throughout the book: Are the characters even truthful with themselves?
My book was a book not just about aliens but about the human condition.
I will release my next book this summer and put out a blog about the historical figure that inspired me for "Volunteer 4711." Some of you might already be able to guess from the blurb who it might be. “My Human Pet” was inspired by Ota Benga which I have a blog about if you are unfamiliar with his biography.
With best wishes,