By Stephen A. North
Where to start? A good place, I think, would be mentioning that I’ve served and observed the best and worst humanity has to offer for close to thirty years now. I spend most of my days in a place that could be described as Jerry Springer’s World, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. While many of the people I work with, whether customer or fellow employee, could make up several really controversial episodes for Mr. Springer, I don’t think those oddball people deserve to be the focus. They are a visible, not to be ignored, minority, but they aren’t representative of the majority of people I have known.
A friend of mine notices everyone that walks into his field of vision. He has to. He has a dangerous job, and never knows when someone or something out of the past might come back and bite him. Consequently, he is hyper-alert to every freak, or strange person that walks by. I focus on people for a different reason, although it’s roots are similar to my friend’s. My job is people-oriented. I think that focus has benefited my writing.
I have witnessed quite a few people reactions in stressful situations. These situations could be anything from the spur of the moment to something long term. So many people lie. Sometimes it’s just to themselves. Far too often, though, people choose to lie or cheat for convenience’s sake. Whether it is ego, or the simple self protective urge, or God knows what, they decide that fiction is the route to take.
There’s a revelation in there somewhere. Hopefully, most writers are using the artful lie (fiction) to tell an entertaining story, while out in the real world, people are using it to conceal anything from theft to cheating in all its forms, and even to murder.
In the Dead Tide novels, I have endeavored to portray people at their best and worst, set against an apocalyptic backdrop in which it is hard to tell which monster is worse: the living or undead person. People aren’t simple. So many of us have so many issues affecting how we live, or try to live, and it is hard to predict how each person will react in a life or death situation. There are a lot of people walking around out there with little to no reason to live, and nothing to love. Does this make them good or bad? Does it guarantee that they will always react selfishly or murderously? Some people have to hit rock bottom before they rise up and become the person they always should have been. This journey we are all on may end at any moment. The only real guarantee we have in this world is that everything, eventually will come to an end. That might be a gift.
I think the image of the undead consumer is apt. They at least are upfront and honest about what they want. You can trust them to react in a predictable fashion. Not so with a living, breathing, conniving human, and maybe not even so with a virtuous, heroic person. In the world of Dead Tide, Dead Tide Rising, and the nearly finished third book, I attempt to give you an unblinking, unflinching look at humanities monsters, it’s heroes, and more accurately, all those who fall somewhere in-between. Humanity is flawed, but many of us recognize, and have the ability to rise above, or fail and fall, due to those flaws. Also, sheer laziness might drag down more people than circumstances.
Guess I’ve rambled a bit. Let’s sum up with this: I’ve dabbled with blogging here and there over the years, and wrote a lot to blow off steam caused by work or personal life stress. I escaped into and away from madness, so to speak, by using my writing as a refuge. Then, and now, if I could take people away from their own problems, and entertain them, then my writing is a success, whether I reach full-time writing status or not. Hope to do continue to write (and entertain) for many years to come.