This was a hard one.
I’m always drawn toward the dark shit. Not the viciously malevolent stuff, like the Manson Family or true crime serial killer stories, but the philosophically dark.
From punk rock to V For Vendetta to zombie lore, I love it when things get dark. It’s a great trait, I suppose, for a dark writer, but at the same time, it can take one to some pretty disturbing places.
Dead Talker is the last time I will explore such a deep place without finding the exit point.
I don’t mind tragic, hopeless stuff. I like nihilistic films and books. Hell, the essence of punk is that nothing matters and everything’s bullshit, so do what you want, as hard as you want, and don’t worry about consequence. It’s evolved a bit from that, particularly for me, but the whole gig is about nihilism and embracing the freedom and possibility contained within that concept. A lot of that turns negative and self-destructive (or just plain destructive), but if you can find the threads that hold onto the positive, creative side of the whole thing, it takes it to another level.
Rebel with a cause. Rebel with meaning. Rebel with understanding and self-awareness and a desire to leave the world a better place.
Dead Talker is not that book (rather, novella). It wallows in its hopelessness, and exists to strip out every bit of possibility we might have, by constantly reminding us that we are faulty creatures, and that no matter what we do, it all ends the same.
This is me at my worst.
Jeopardy had an out. Tap into the path that leads to bliss and you can get out, a sort of half-heaven, half-enlightenment ascension that doesn’t end, but can spit us back out at Jeopardy’s whim.
Captain Hanna, dark as it got, had an out. Rage was released. Gardner started her own crew of misfits, inclusive to all and nowhere near as violent or spiteful.
The lesson of Jeopardy was embrace your obsession while letting go of the things you don’t need. Ride the moment, embrace the thing you love and you will transcend.
The lesson of Captain Hanna was one of cooperation over tribalism.
The lesson of Dead Talker is nothing matters and everything sucks. Not much of a lesson, but it’s a metaphor for depression. It’s meant as an exorcism, for me as the author. The primary characters were shame and guilt and fear and hopelessness, all key components of any good depression.
It manifests differently, but the idea is the same. My goal is to move beyond it; my hope is that it will help those who don’t understand it get a glimpse of what it’s like to suffer through it. How crazy-making and myopic and selfish it can make a person. How destructive and self-destructive. How separated from one’s true self.
And how stygmatized it can be. How disgusted and unsympathetic it can make others.
How society, for all its talk, really doesn’t care or help. Andrea wanted to so badly in the story, but she didn’t know how. Agreement and platitudes were the best she could muster, and she suffers for it.
The rest either didn’t care or didn’t want to deal with it. The doctor’s just checking off boxes.
Huh, that’s the second time I’ve included a doctor who doesn’t care.
There must be some psychological reason for that. Oh wait, it’s because I’ve repeatedly dealt with doctors who didn’t care.
I’m sure there’s good ones out there, but in real life, they sure are like you see on Grey’s Anatomy or Chicago Hope. Maybe one day, I’ll use one in a book.