Dead Talker has been a trial. The original intent was to do something similar to Jeopardy, but more of an exorcism than an exploration.
Jeopardy was about tapping into an obsession and controlling it, in order to reach pinnacles and peace never before seen, with a warning not to slip. Jeopardy’s actions in the book are an indicator of how close or how far, how tempted or how dishonoured our junkie is toward his obsession/addiction.
However, there’s a lot of pain in Jeopardy as well. Not living in the obsession the right way causes anguish, and the obsession costs him everything most people would dear – family, home, job, money. Living with it properly gave him peace beyond anything he’d imagined, and put him up with the stars.
It’s a pain I am familiar with. I am driven to do certain things. I’m obsessed with the exploration of worlds. With motivations and agendas and codes of living. I’m obsessed with the meaning of life and the best way to live. I’m obsessed with the exposure of bullshit and bad behaviour. Since I’ve turned that power on myself, my life has grown infinitely better, while at the same time, become increasingly disturbed. Self-examination is the only path to growth, but it’s not an easy one, and comes with much shame and regret.
Dead Talker was meant to exorcise depression. The whole thing is a metaphor for it. I’ve lived with depression on and off for years. There’s good days and bad, sometimes triggered by events, sometimes low blood sugar or a hangover, sometimes by nothing at all.
With the idea that self-exploration is the growth equivalent to “the best way out is through”, I dove into this topic, and have lived with it for the past three months non-stop. Throw in some vacation time and the holidays and it has not been easy. Part of the reason Captain Hanna was intended to be more of a straight action-adventure (though when I’ve ever been able to tamp down my philosophical/psychological/sociological tendencies when writing, I don’t know), was primarily because I needed a palate cleanser after Jeopardy.
Something completely different to focus on.
I created so much pain (at least, in my mind) as a writer that I needed something swashbuckling to distract me.
Whatever comes after Dead Talker, and I have an idea already, is going to have to be based largely on satire. A little humour to indulge the tendencies while not dragging me down the hole.
Because reality knows I go down that hole often enough, and the older I get, the more easily I seem to become emotionally invested in the worlds and people I’m creating, as well as the ones I’m exploring.
Including the real one, and it’s plenty depressing enough for all of us.