Apparently, I’m a nice guy. I’m considered kind and considerate, approachable and friendly. All very… well… nice. It’s not a bad way to be thought of and I am very comfortable with the label, though in some ways it is a little wishy-washy. Nice is, after all, another way of saying safe.
But my seemingly unassuming and kindly personality causes some confusion among friends who have read my novel. It is a violent story (nice-less in a way) with a huge cast of characters, good, bad and worse, and told from the point of view of twenty-six of them. A lot of work went into making each character as unique as possible, and therein lies the feeling of disconnect for my friends.
They ask me one of two questions:
1. Where do you get your characters? This implies I must order them from eBay or some other character retail site.
2. Who is that character based on? This is often accompanied by a knowing nose tap, as though they have worked it out and just want confirmation.
The answer to both questions is that all of the characters are unequivocally me.
If you were brave enough to enter my mind, and got used to all the empty space, you would find, lurking in those dark alcoves and recesses, a wide variety of versions of my character. There are monster versions (I haven’t released them yet), killers, thieves, deranged parents, criminal masterminds, possessed children, two-faced back-stabbers and violent drug dealing gang members. And they are just my female side.
There are people who are insanely jealous, filled with remorse, seething with anger, in search of revenge, consumed by lust, clingy, dependent, dominant, meek, happy, sad, manipulative, depressed, euphoric, arrogant, delusional, realistic and fatalistic.
There are sailors, soldiers, police, firemen, slaves, politicians, nurses, reporters, convicts, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, orphans, migrants, refugees, astronauts, aliens, animals, vegetables and minerals.
You will see history, war, peace, revolution, anarchy, battles, natural disasters, discovery, nation building and invention. You can see why I need so much space in there.
All of this is in constant turmoil in my mind. There are stories involving all of them and they constantly compete to be released, hopefully only onto the page. I can only hope they never form a united front and take over.
But given this recipe for disaster, I am fortune that I am dominated and kept in check by my niceness. It serves me well and allows me move around in a population completely unaware of the terrible danger walking freely among them. A potential danger so terrible that if unleashed it could – and I say this modestly – consume the entire planet.
And so, while I contain this enormous evil power that would make a James Bond villain look like one of Fagin’s pickpockets, no one will be the wiser as I remain unassuming, charming and nice.
While I can.