Someone pointed out to me, very recently, a rather astounding yet inherent trait in my stories that I hadn't noticed before myself. And although it may seem very on purpose, I can assure you it has never been, at least consciously. But, as I look inward, digging around in my head and tossing aside junk and useless crap, I'm finding something not new, but old, something in the back of my head that I didn't know about, but has always been there.
This person asked me about death, specifically its role within my works. Yes, it's true. My main characters deal with a great deal of death, and usually it's someone very close to them. In Lonely Moon, it was Hane's wife and child. In Redial it was Tilly's husband.
I could give you a laundry list of reasons why they died, but at the very top would be the most important reason, the deep-rooted belief I didn't know I had, which was unearthed by this observation.
Let's establish some basics first. The main character is the star. It's their story, not mine. Yes, I decide what happens, to some extent, but sometimes that's not even true. Everyone else in their world exists to add an element of depth or richness or they're there to create conflict, stir up some shit, right? It's really that simple.
Notice I didn't say everyone else is expendable. That term has more of a horror movie look and feel to it, but it does have a place under the literary umbrella. Death is a notch on my toolbelt, one held together by my thoughts and my beliefs. So, what did I discover in the back of my head? What belief did this observation force me to explore? Death is just one facet of it. Alright, Alright, I'll tell you already.
Yup. That's it. Change. It has countless causes and even more results, but the symptoms are truly universal.
As humans, we are completely averse to it, and most of us are scared to death of it. But, without it, life is about as exciting as watching a sweaty man struggle into an entirely undersized tanktop. We find comfort in routine, security in predictability.
My belief then, I found, is that people will do whatever they can to resist it, unless you force them, and in the instances of my two novels, that would be heartbroken loss. Tilly's story begins the moment her husband dies. Hane's tale of vengeance is born of his family's death. Without these tragically monumental moments in their lives, their stories would never take the paths that they did, and they wouldn't be the books that they are.
It's funny that we think we know ourselves so well, that there's nothing more to learn about ourselves, until an effortless observation, a basic notion points out something, making us explore 'why'. It's refreshing.
I touch briefly on this in my interview with Bill Thompson on "The Bookcast", which, if you haven't listened to it yet, take a few minutes and give it an ear, here - Andrew Saxsma On The BookCast.
As always, thanks for reading, One last question to ask, are you ready for Old McDonald? 8 More days! Leave your comments, lemme' know how excited you are!