Writers are always asked questions like what made you start writing, where did you get your inspiration from, etc. The question I've been asked most over the years (even before I epublished) is why. Why flash fiction, why such depressing concepts, why fantasy, why overdone ideas (werewolves, vampires, witches, angels, underwolds, afterlife), why such open-ended conclusions, just why.
It's hard to answer. I honestly can't remember what sparks most of the stories that come to me. First and foremost, I write about the characters in my head. I don't worry about their story - I just give them a voice. I know it isn't going to please everyone and I'm fully aware some of the things I write upset people (and there will always be lots of people who think that what I put out there is crap but nowt I can do about that one) but I don't sweep uncomfortable issues under the carpet - that's how people get away with horrific crimes for years and years. I don't make an attempt to upset people either, shocking people is never my intention.
Some of what I write comes from real life in ways I can't fully explain here - I know so many families living with secrets, the past can't be acknowledged, the guilty can move on and the victims are expected to cope too. No. I hate that. I hate that new generations of children are unnecessarily put at risk but nobody will talk about, acknowledge, or face up to past horrors.
I try to stay off the soapbox but people need to speak out and deal with shit. There's someone in my life who barely understands how much of a victim they are but they are basically ostracised from their family who stick by the guilty party and won't hear a word of what happened because "it was years ago." Fuck that.
I'm not claiming to be an expert in anything, I can only write what makes sense to me. In one of my short story collections is a story called A Skeleton in my Closet and another called Childlike Bride. The victims in these stories are defenseless and abandoned by those who should be there to protect them. Not everyone gets my intentions with those stories but that's the chance we take when we write anything. In the story, Justice, most people feel that a young child was harmed but when I first wrote it, the child was the woman's grown-up daughter and the man was the daughter's partner. That's the beauty of a short story, it's so open to interpretation that it can be a hundred different stories depending on who reads it.
With the other collection, Sixty Seconds, a lot of the stories involve gangland type crimes. I remember going to school and seeing police beat up schoolfriend's older brothers. I remember police running away in fear. I keep seeing old friends and their families in the paper because they've killed people or been shot at. I know young fathers who were murdered before they could see their unborn children and I know victims who just can't take it anymore. I know families who are torn apart and can't go home because it's too dangerous. I've had a seven year old boy threaten to rape me, egged on by older lads (guess what he grew up to be). An old friend grew up to be a woman beating animal who almost strangled his girlfriend because she miscarried. Someone close to me held a stranger as the man bled to death after being shot. A friend's boyfriend threatened to burn down my house and kill my family because his girlfriend wouldn't answer the phone. I deal with these things by writing stories. They aren't directly taken from life but it's my way of getting the crap out of my head.
Going back to victims being forced to "forget" about the past and move on for the sake of family, this even applies slightly to Thirst. Ava's relationship with her grandmother has a similar theme running through it - Ava's unacknowledged trauma hasn't been dealt with and comes through in her OCD. The OCD aspect is there because there is no other outlet for her anxiety - she's a number counter and it gives her a sense of control. She's a functioning adult, she went to school, she had a serious boyfriend but she chooses to distance herself from society, thus accentuating her symptoms. (I have social anxiety, if I avoid people, it gets worse so this was my thinking regarding Ava - however, I can make a show of being normal if I have to, I've been "acting" most of my life).
Most people have some form of OCD but it isn't all about keeping things in order and it isn't the comic thing that most of us make light of now and then. There's all sorts of serious forms of OCD regarding numbers - rarely acknowledged fully in media but in the film Camp, one of the characters mentions their number issue that requires medication - and a lot of sufferers don't realise that it is actually OCD and that many other people are going through the same thing. Yay for the 'net, letting people know they aren't alone.
It's hard to understand if you haven't dealt with it and it isn't a quirk, it's pretty fucking serious if you can't control it. There are many forms, counting and multiplying randomly, hearing a word and repeating it using the order of numbers in the alphabet (and using those numbers mathematically to eventually come up with a certain base number) or having good and bad numbers and doing anything possible not to use the bad numbers.
There is so much more than this that I could never do justice to, I'm just trying to give basic examples but you catch my drift. In every day life this can be more consuming than hand washing and it's an internal symptom that isn't picked up on by other people all that often. Imagine being a little kid trying to explain why you're spacing out when you have absolutely no idea what you're doing.
In pretty much all of the longer stories I write, there's forms of racism. Not based on colour (because I don't have the skills), but more of a species/fantasy race prejudice type thing. Probably because I find racism impossible to understand. I suppose I'll keep using it subconsciously until I figure it out in my head. I'm just thinking about all of the novels I've written and yep, there's always something that boils down to racism - more importantly, fear and ignorance. I need a new theme. :)
I'm a selfish writer. I write for me. I don't write for fame or fortune (sorry OH), I write to make myself happy. I write the things I want to read. I don't know how to write any other way. I like to know the reasons why people act the way they do and writing helps me understand problems, motivations, disorders. My answer to why I write is that I need to understand why. Not knowing, not understanding, this gets in the way of me dealing with anything. I need the answer to why to move on so I write to find/understand some of the answers. I live in major fear of someone hurting my kids, it's something I became quite obsessive about until I started letting it go by writing stories - I have trouble dealing with my past, so I write about it (no, I don't publish those stories, LOL). Basically the answer to every question is writing is my way of letting my warped mind deal with life without me cracking up completely.
Maybe I'll get into the overused fantasy issue (and the lack of HEAs) some other time, this post is long enough. :)