These are dark days. Perhaps you’ve noticed, it’s been in the news. From the never ending shitshow that is the rise of the Far Right in America, to the rise of the Far Right in Europe, or, um, the rise of the Far Right here at home, it’s easy to stare into theinternet and just become despondent. This morning I woke up and spent the first ten minutes of my day filling up with news so grave and toxic that it’s amazing that I even managed to make it out of the covers. Thankfully there’s two tiny people in my house who could give a monkey’s toss about what’s happening in the world — they wanted breakfast, and dressing, and taking to school. So I couldn’t mope.
But really, what does moping get any of us? Where is the good in despondency? All I see on my feeds these days is darkness, wailing, pointing, and howling about the terrible things the bad people are doing. And hey, that’s completely understandable, because they are indeed bad people, and they are indeed doing terrible things, but the worst part of this is that we, the people, seem to be doing this alone. In this country, especially, with a Brexit shitshow looming, there is no opposition. There is no voice of hope.
Hope is important. In the wake of George Bush and Iraq, it took Barack Obama’s message of hope to wrest power away. Throughout the Thatcher years, Labour were the indignant opposition, howling at the unfairness, the disparity, the cruelty of the government. It wasn’t until Blair brought a message of hope, that things could get better, that Labour were able to take back power, before pissing away all that hope to the point we we barely dare to have any more.
This is, of course, a drastic oversimplification. But hey, this is a blog post on the internet, and what would that be without a touch of oversimplification? Still, the point remains that with the Dems in America in disarray, and Labour under Corbyn being as effective as a wet fart into your suit before a job interview, that there’s a distinct lack of voices espousing hope out there right now.
All of which makes me question my place in all this as *whisper it quietly* an artist. In times of trouble and woe, the artist is supposed to be one of the voices of opposition. Laugh it off as ‘moaning celebs’ all you like, but how many of us, especially in our formative years, form our political beliefs off the back of the art that changes our world? How much of my liberal ideology, my belief in progress, comes from Harper Lee, Douglas Coupland, Bill Hicks, Eddie Vedder, and a hundred others? I’d wager a fair chunk of it.
One quote that’s been rattling around my head a lot these last few months is one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
What am I going to do with the time given to me? Well, I am a writer. As a writer, even one of niche horror nonsense, do I have a responsibility to be a peddler of hope? I’d like to think so, even in my books about the world’s end.
Blood on the Motorway may be about a serial killer using the end of the world as the justification for his actions, but it’s also about people finding hope in the dark places, in each other. It’s about how building communities is better than trying to deal with things alone. Sleepwalk City sees the forces who would take control upping their game, but being matched by the efforts of good people, those willing to stand up. In the final book of the series, you’ll see that same message — that opposition, hope, and the goodness of people can shine through in adversity. Or, at least, that’s what I hope you’ll get from it, amidst the gore, the violence, and the stale sandwiches.
Blood on the Motorway – An apocalyptic tale of murder and stale sandwiches, is available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and more besides. The sequel, Sleepwalk City, is available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and many more.