Review of My Life In Darkness and Me Being Interviewed

      A fellow indie author and friend, Guy Harrison, has reviewed my novella, My Life In Darkness, and posted a few interview questions he asked of me. The review is very well-written and definitely worth a read to get some insight into the novella for those who have yet to download it (remember, it’s free).

      So head on over to Guy’s site and do some reading!

Read the Review and Interview Here

What is Fiction?

      Fiction, to me, is something that is always changing. I don’t see it as having a specific definition. How can anyone lock down something so broad to just a few simple words? (Unless you want to define it as “something someone made up”.)

      I’ve always envisioned fiction as glass. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s smoked, or mirrored, or a one-way mirror. Other times it magnifies things, bringing us closer to them, and other times it pulls us back – further away from what we’re looking at – and gives us perspective. It can be stained, coloured, polarized (or polarizing, as good books often are), or even warped – playing tricks on our eyes and minds. Put enough energy into it and you can shape it anyway you want. And like a piece of blown glass, no two pieces of fiction are exactly the same (barring complete and total plagiarism).

      Basically, it is a window, or lens, through which we can view the world. The best part though, it’s not just our world. It can show us worlds that don’t exist, that will never exist, and also those that no longer exist. Past, present, future, real or imagined, fiction takes us to places we may not normally and get to see and introduces us to characters we would never meet. And what of those characters? They can be anyone or anything. We immerse ourselves into their lives – as a viewer, participant or even as the character themselves.

      And they are no different from ourselves. Sure they may not be human, they may have superpowers or a destiny to save/destroy the world, they may be ultra-sauve spies or damaged anti-heroes. But they have our strengths, our flaws, our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They share our happiness, our sorrows, even our dreams. They are a window into our own lives, a mirror for us to reflect upon. A powerful piece of fiction can change a person’s life.

      And if not, it looks good on a shelf and gives us a break from our lives, if only for a little while.

The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

      There is absolutely no denying it, the truth really is stranger than fiction. And the proof is currently flooding the newssites, papers, television, radiowaves and every other form of media out there.

      The last week has given us a cannibalistic attack in Miami, a man throwing pieces of his own flesh and intestines at police in New Jersey and, of course, the case of a murder in Montreal complete with dismemberment, necrophilia, cannibilism, an online snuff film and the mailing of body parts to government agencies. I will not link to these articles. They can easily be found with a simple search should anyone feel the need. Most likely, everyone has already heard of these stories. The purpose of this post is to make a simple fact of being a writer clear:

You can’t make this !$%# up!

      As a police officer, I see it far too often. And I’ve become desensitized to it. It takes cases like the ones mentioned above to make me remember how bizarre our world is. The fact is, as writers we tend to think “this is too over the top, no one will believe this could be possible”. The opposite is true. How many times have you read an article on crime, politics, etc. and thought, “that would’ve made a great novel”? If you’re like me… too many.

      No fiction will ever be as strange as the truth (NB: exception made for sparkly vampires). So write away, forget that voice saying tone it down and keep plugging away. But that doesn’t mean every crime has to be extremely graphic, disturbing or vomit-inducing. I prefer to make my readers hate the killer by making them feel for the victims, not because the crimes are so beyond reproach that everyone wants the killer’s head on a pike.

      It doesn’t have to be crime though, it’s just that crime stories have a way of catching our attention as they dominate the news. What about the novels of families and lovers connected through unbelievable odds? Sometimes we look at those and think they’re preposterous – a long-lost love letter showing up on the doorstep after forty years? Those stories exist in truth as well, they just tend to be buried beneath the crime and politics, the entertainment section and the sports pages. Take the story of the 13-year-old boy visiting garage sales with his grandmother. The dollar he spent on an old Polaroid camera (and the time spent watching YouTube videos to learn how to use it) was well worth it when he found inside an old photograph of a young man and woman. His grandmother immediately recognized the man – her son, the boy’s uncle, who died a decade before the boy was born. The camera had apparently belonged to his uncle’s then-girlfriend’s family.

      What I’m trying to say is this: If you can dream it, write it. If you can’t dream it, just keep an eye on the newspapers.

      —Harrison