I had a brief conversation a while back (that's not unusual in itself- most of my conversations are brief) with someone who had read my first two books and said that although he really liked them added, "Do you not feel that they’re a little much for some people?"
What an odd question, I thought. A little much what? A few too many pages? Or do I use too many long words? I don't think I do. My style isn't as simplistic as some people would like, granted, but I'm writing in the style that I've chosen for myself and a lot of people seem to like it.
Apparently, however, he was talking not about structures and semantics but about the nature of the Aona books themselves- "grim" was one word he chose to use. "Maybe they are in places," I agreed, "although I have some way to go before I can top most of the things I see on TV news or read about on news websites."
That in turn got me thinking how incredibly blasé the general public and the media seem to be about the things we see on the news. Some of the news stories over the last few years have been pretty shocking (and I am far from easily shocked). It certainly makes me relieved that I am not one of those people who have yet to grow up into this vacuous, senseless mire of a selfish society fed by a sadistic, corrupt media. Apparently David Cameron is still creating a "Big Society", not that he knows how big he wants it to be, or what shape. Maybe it's intended to replace the terminally ill Society 1.0, or maybe it's purpose is to do battle with Milliband's "One Nation".
Is it perhaps better to try to avoid these grim forewarnings of how society is intent on eating its own innards? I suspect there's a certain freedom to be gained from abandoning the choking, contaminated wave of information that washes over us on a continuous basis. We feed ourselves constantly- not simply vile, over-energised food and alcohol to comfort ourselves and distant us from the truth about our modern environment, but information too. Far too much information. Anyone who's spent a few hours (they think) on social networking sites and then realised that the day has gone by will already be aware of this. That's one more day you'll never get back.
In terms of my own work, I actually feel it's somewhat less grim than the relentless grind of "real" life. In my books I can work with characters that I care deeply about. I can weave stories around them that may shock and distress but may also uplift and inspire. Some will eventually overcome all manner of challenges. It's all very different to the grey hell of a world beamed through into our living rooms, where lessons are never learned and the shadow of quiet despair leaps out at us through the voice of the media.
So come visit Aona, where the sun is always shining and the pixies play.