My books aren’t for the faint of heart.
Not that they’re gratuitously violent, but my stories are about bad men doing bad things, and blood gets spilled. Sometimes, a lot of it. It’s an interesting question whether they’re reflective of the world we live in, or the world is now reflecting what’s become so common in books and on screen: violence as a solution, as first and best answer.
A few months back there was a lot of good debate about the rape as an overused trope. A line of argument went like this: it’s become a common and lazy device that whenever we writers or screenwriters want to convey trauma, or evilness, we just toss in a rape scene and call it done. But I wonder if the same is true for violence in general? Violence as the solution, as the answer. Whenever we want to amp the action or the threats in our stories, are we having our characters reach for a gun first? And even if that's true, do we have any responsibility for it? After all, we’re (only) trying to entertain, to tell a story, and if a violent resolution or outcome is what our story “needs,” then our only responsibility is to that narrative.
I’m not one to engage in a lot of overt political or sociological debate or discourse, and definitely not in the wilds of the internet, so I’ll try refrain from it here (and it could be argued I don't have much of a leg to stand on, given the cover of my very own upcoming release). But the use and limits of violence was a theme I had in mind while writing THE FAR EMPTY, and then again, while finishing the sequel, which I explored through the thoughts and actions of one my characters. I wanted to introduce a protagonist who was uncomfortable reaching for his gun, even though he wore one every day. One who purposefully avoided violent confrontations, although he was more than capable of handling them, who had a tremendous amount of authority, but was very careful in how he wielded it. Even more interestingly, I wondered how did a man like that dealt with threats that couldn't be reasoned with? (I think these very same questions were raised by the character of Morgan in this most recent season of THE WALKING DEAD).
There are no real answers here, nor are there any in my book. I’m just a writer, trying tell stories that interest me. And they're just words after all, right? But still, I can't help but be cognizant of this increasingly violent world we live in...the one that scrolls across all our television screens every day.