There is a little piece of me that likes to cry. I have a tear on standby, waiting to roll should the opportunity present itself and I know it is there ready to go given the right incentive. Outwardly at least I present as a happy, positive, almost if not frequently gregarious individual, quick with a quip and optimistic to the core. But melancholy is a devilish sneak thief and while I smile and laugh, it steals from me and I am often its willing victim.
I don’t dwell on the sadness that pervades my soul. I know it is there and sometimes I allow myself to peek into the darkness from whence it comes but only sometimes. There is therefore a little piece of me that likes to cry and there is on occasion even the need set the tears free. Unfortunately my self diagnosis and emotional self therapy have limited success so I know that the darkness must be kept at bay for fear it takes over and changes who I am at heart.
So what do I do with this sneaking nemesis and where do I hide from its grasp? If you ever get the chance to read a Max Power book, read it with what I have said in mind and you will find that I infect my characters with the darkness that I carry as though it might lighten the load and I believe that it does. Whether it gives soul to the ink created names on my page I can never be sure. I certainly hope it does. The heart of my wonderfully elusive Benjamin in Darkly Wood is infused with it and despite appearances when first you get to meet the inequitable Larry Flynn, he too carries his share of my burden.
My joy and happiness in life that largely comes from the love I get from those around me, shines a light to conquer the darkness, to keep me from danger. But just to be safe, to be sure, to be sure, I will always give a little piece of my soul and an occasional spray of melancholy to enliven my creations in ink, to breathe life into their bones and add weight to their existence. When you find happiness in my characters, well, I stole that from someone else. When it comes to my happy thoughts, I need all that I can get so I keep them to use like Peter Pan.
Many of us daily fend off the sneak thief and I can only speak to my own strategy. But knowing is a start. I know it is there lurking, waiting for the chance to spoil my fun, so I carry a smile and I am often quickest with the joke to make those around me smile so I can bask in their smile’s reflected glow. But I know too that a little piece of me likes to cry, so I keep a tear on standby, just in case.
When I look at everything I write I realise that in some shape or form, Love is at the core of pretty much every story I create. The funny thing is, I don’t write romance or at least not yet, but still it is undeniable. In my first book Darkly Wood, you can’t miss it. Daisy loves Benjamin and I’m not giving anything away there. However, that book is much more than a love story. When I look at Larry Flynn which followed Darkly, it might not be as obvious but it is still there.
Love takes many forms and whether it is the absence of love, romantic love or familial love, it seems that love is such a fundamental part of our human need, that writers simply cannot avoid it. If you can find a book without reference to it directly or indirectly I think I may be gobsmacked. Even if it is the absence of love, that in itself focusses on the writers unavoidable inclusion of what we all crave, have, or lack in our lives.
It was a thought provoking epiphany for me because I never considered how central this emotion is to most books, not just mine. I write very much character driven stories so maybe I should have spotted the obvious long before now. Consider any book you have ever read and try not to find love at the heart of the book. If one thinks of themes that may be far from love like revenge and hate, typically they stem from a place of love for the character. To go to the extreme opposite one has to contextualise and so love appears. In its absence, the void that fills the pages and our characters exists only by our understanding that it is missing – so again it appears.
Maybe I’m thinking too hard. Maybe I’ve had too much coffee, but am I alone or have you ever thought about this one too?