Fiction writing has always been a place where I could escape.
As a teen I continually pumped out stories, sometimes based on the media I was watching at the time, sometimes based on the nightmares I had.
I created my own universe. Had my own characters. I would anthropomorphize animals, and kill off people I didn’t like in the real world — which I’m thankful teachers never read my work, or I’d have a lot of explaining to do.
I must admit, though, my imagination has slowed down over the years, and the comfort of writing fiction has been lost in favour of a financial pursuit so my family and I can enjoy food, shelter and clothing.
Regardless, my imagination hasn’t disappeared. When it amps up, it can be overwhelming, especially to those who have had their imagination snuffed out through their transition to adulthood.
The other day, while in the room most people have a cathartic response in, a ghost story came to me. It’s hard to find a refreshing take on the old horror tale spawned out of Gothic literature but it’s always great to offer your own interpretation.
And in that creative process, I thought to myself, “What are five themes that I consistently write about”?
Well, here they are.
Origin: As a bullied kid from Grades 5 to 9 I sought punishment, for those who made my life a living hell at school, in my writing.
Why: The justice system is always under scrutiny. I like to scrutinize the scrutineers — the people who are typically soft on criminals (a.k.a. bleeding hearts). Most of the time, the bad really get punished in my writing. It’s the death penalty to those deserving without having to be shamed by the aforementioned bleeding hearts.
Origin: I might have been baptized Anglican, but I wasn’t really raised with a particular faith, or philosophy. Still, I was always intrigued by the parables that all the faiths offered.
Why: We’re always so smug with our science, but with every question answered, a thousand more are born. Sometimes, there are forces at play that are beyond our microscopes — we just have to be open to them.
Origin: Fortean phenomenon from ghosts to cryptids fascinate me, and have played a vital role in my writing since I was in Grade 2.
Why: It’s such a broad tapestry that can smother characters. I love the warped universe of Stephen King where you tweak one small, innocuous thing, like a St. Bernard, or a doll, or a sleepy New England town, with an element of the supernatural. It can brew up one helluva tempest.
Origin: As a teen I was always interested in end-of-days prophecy. I read books on Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce and various cultures’ interpretations of how we’ll meet our Waterloo as a species.
Why: Perhaps my dissatisfaction with the way the world is and how people treat each other plays into this. Judgment day typically ties in with the justice theme, and I like the idea of picking up the pieces afterward. That explains why I like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road so much.
Origin: Perhaps because I am flawed, like any other human, I’ve always been drawn to both the inept and vindictive anti-heroes — your Dirty Harrys, Punishers and Dudes (Lebowskis).
Why: Nobody’s perfect, and when you’re writing about survivors, the squeaky clean people just piss you off. You need flaws, because the world is flawed, and society typically roots for the underdog, warts and all. You also learn more from those who have battle scars.