In school, we announce our name, our favorite subject, and a “fun” fact. At work, it’s a gradual handing out of our favorite movies, family life, and inappropriate stories over coffee in the break room. In bars, it’s stolen glances, slurred whispers, secrets and lies. But on the internet, you can introduce yourself anyway you like. Or avoid an introduction all together.
If you’d like the elevator speech, please go to the About the Author page. You’ll find the concise paragraph you’re looking for summarizing my education and work history. I’ve archived my work in Publications, and if you’re interested, you can read those published online. Together, those resources make up a decent likeness.
If you’d like a more detailed portrait, continue with me here.
My fiancé and I like to play a question game – both serious and absurd, both thought up and found on the internet. A month or so ago, I came across a great question to ask him: If you had to give someone five video games that sum up who you are, what would they be? Because he’s a gamer, he had no trouble answering it. He posed it back to me, substituting games for books.
I’ve decided that’s how I’ll introduce myself to you, Reader – I’ll list the books that define me, that when read encompass who I am, how I write, what I believe, what interests me, and what keeps me up at night.
Please Note: These books are in no particular order. The following explanations are spoiler-free, so don’t worry if you haven’t read one or more of them (if you haven’t, let me highly recommend them and their authors here).
1984 by George Orwell
I saw a pin the other day that said “Make Orwell Fiction Again” – hilarious and terrifying at the same time. 1984 is a book that jolted much of the population when it was published in 1949 and continues to impact the perceptions of people today. A world governed by Big Brother, regulation, and routine. The saddest part about the narrative, perhaps, is the hope it gives you for the protagonist, Winston Smith. Hope is a dark thing that clings to pieces of us, feeding on our energy like a parasite. Orwell’s particular attention to detail and rendering of human suffering and passion create an uncomfortable likeness of our world on paper – our world, perhaps, as we try to avoid seeing it.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I’ll put these two together, as the reasons behind my affinity for them are similar. Not only does Gaiman write captivating speculative fiction, but he does it with such a sense of humor that even the darkest scenes are highlighted with buoyant personalities and quirks. Because most genre fiction is driven by plot, rather than by character, finding a novel (let alone two) with strong characterization that has a hand in moving the story forward is rare. Take Crowley, our demon in Good Omens: a dedicated servant of Satan who decides he wants to save the Earth, and the only way to do that is to work with an angel – and find the Antichrist he lost. A similar sarcastic wit is brought to the unusual characters who inhabit the forgotten society beneath London in Neverwhere – there are shepherds and Earls on the Tube, a bird-man scouting from rooftops, two assassins who take too much pleasure in torture, a Marquee with a “coat of holding,” and a pathetic man who was just trying to do a good deed. Gaiman’s characters stick with you for years, burned into your memory, lurking around every corner, waiting to retell you their story and pull you into their world. Worlds that just so happen to be hiding within our own.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Ever wonder what Death thinks of the living? He isn’t shy about sharing his opinions, especially when it comes to a young German girl living through World War II. She isn’t Jewish; her mother left her; her brother is dead; and all she has now is a juxtaposed pair of adoptive parents and a large library with an open window. My particular love for this novel relies on the narration – Death’s interjections throughout the narrative add a humor and melancholy laced with a strange disconnect. At times, it reads more like a study of a girl, human nature, mortality, and the gradual loss of security and innocence than it does as a story. We haven’t all lived through WWII or watched loved ones die in front of us, but Death’s soothing discontent with the world most people find uncanny.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.” If there is one thing I have always believed, it is that there are no purely good or purely evil people in the world. It’s a theme that comes out in most of my writing, and perhaps it’s because of what I write about. Here is where you get a bit of personal information – insight into why these books are dark narratives with hopeless, broken characters and suicide missions. My own battle with mental illness has driven a lot of my work. It’s difficult for anyone to fight themselves, and so, like Jekyll, I put those dark feelings into someone else. My illness is a separate entity that inhabits my body, that forces me to act irrationally and feel what shouldn’t be felt. While Jekyll fought a manifestation brought about by a potion, Stevenson wrote about the dark side of us all and the danger that comes with giving it too much power, even for a moment.
I could name a dozen other titles and give you reasons why they summarize my personality, my writing style, my way of thinking, but I believe those are the top contenders, the five I would present to someone trying to get a sense of me and my work.
Because I am a full-time student and employee, I may not be as diligent with this blog as others, but I promise that my posts will always have something important or interesting to say. I hope to find you here again, Reader.