Can a work of fiction ever have real validity in dealing with the weightier issues lurking in the dark recesses of the human animal?
I asked myself that when I was challenged to ‘justify’ some of the real-life horrors that feature in my debut crime fiction novel ‘BiteMarks’ – an excerpt of which features prominently on the pages of Angie’s Diary as I write this short article.
The book deals variously with sexual violence, between consenting and non-consenting adults, paraphilia‘s, the nature of sexuality itself, isolation, racism, prejudice, bullying, depression, suicide…the list goes on.
The main character is a probationer police constable with a host of personal demons that haunt his waking and sleeping moments; he is also a ‘vampire’ – in a human, blood-fetishist or ‘sanguinarian‘ way – not in a supernatural sense. It is not a ‘light’ read, even if the underlying message is one of hope for redemption:
‘We cannot change our pasts, cannot take back the evils, small or large, that we have visited upon others, but we can choose not to be defined by our previous actions and so that is what I try to do each day.’
So why did I write it, and why do I feel that it has validity in a psychological sense? I wrote it because I am a former police constable who once lived an ‘alternative’ lifestyle which didn’t fit with that employers sense of how its employees should be, who experienced some of the issues raised in the book first-hand, and who watched others from afar.
The book is a work of fiction, but it is also an exploration and an extension of certain psychological aspects that have resonance with people from all backgrounds. How do I know? Because out of those people kind enough to review the novel so far; one lived through a childhood out of a horror movie, and another is a practising psychologist – both of them were appalled and moved in equal measure; neither of them are personally known to me.
I hold my hands up to shameless book-pimping in part, but I’d also be fascinated by your thoughts too – is fiction a valid way of furthering our understanding of our own psychology and identity?