Monday, February 9, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #312 -- The Grand Theme

Looking over your body of work, does a cohesive theme seem to be present in it? If so what is it?

I think perhaps the most noticeable theme in my stories thus far centers around redemption, or at least the possibility of it.

I tend to write characters looking for redemption because of some past failure (that in many cases lead to present failure too), but when they have it just within reach, they either falter and make the choice that leads them further away from it -- or they manage to find it, but at some great cost to the person they are at that moment, for example, something physical like losing life or a limb or a lover, or having to admit something crucial to their psychological identity, such as having to face the truth about something they didn't already realize about themselves.

I think this comes from my background as a Calvinist. I'm a firm believer in the concept of original sin (kids don't have to be taught to lie or be greedy, but they do have to be taught not to). I also believe as a religious person that redemption, no matter how hard we fight for it, can't come through our own efforts alone, and that seeking it in and of ourselves will always lead to failure. But, on a hopeful note, that failure then leads to finding true redemption after all.

Sadly, that doesn't always lead to my characters' happiness.

I also tend to share the notion of the existential hero, the protagonist who realizes the universe doesn't care about him, but stands up in the face of it all and perseveres anyway. Just living and trying to eek out some small stake in the world is a profound act of victory and demonstrates the miracle that is humanity.

Both of these, I know, sound like hoity-toity, lit-major kinds of things, but let's face it, even though I'm a genre writer today, I did get my start as a lit-major and a lit-writer. So, I'm stuck with it.


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