I don't write comfortable fiction. Certainly, I wouldn't recommend anyone under the age of, say, 16(?) read it at least. The themes that I explore, especially when it comes to the brutality that one person is capable of inflicting on another, isn't, to the outside observer, congruent with the man you'd imagine raising a son with all the love and tenderness that he is capable of. There would seem to be a disconnect there, yes? Well, let's unpack.
I will acknowledge that the deep recesses of my imagination are home to some pretty dark things. In stepping into the world that I inhabit, I became very interested in the motivations of people. Why do they do what they do? Especially when it comes to the commission of atrocities against their fellow human beings. Who hurt you, Adolf? Do you really hate glasses that much, Pol Pot? Donald, why do you and seventy million of your friends think that red hat looks so cool? Okay that last one is really only about the killing of morals and not people, but the point stands. Inside every person, I firmly believe, there is a savageness. I personally, believe myself perfectly capable of extreme violence if it meant defending my wife and son from harm. But, then, I've always thought that about myself, so in this case, no, becoming a father hasn't really changed me at all.
That's not to say that a change hasn't come over me in the 21 months my son has been on this earth. From the moment I first held him I was a different person. Up until that point, for the entirety of my adulthood, I was very guarded with my feelings. That is not to say unfriendly, but I spent so much time as a volatile teenager (to my detriment) that I worked for years (mostly after college) to refine my emotional reactions to things in order to try and maintain an outward even keel. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a roiling sea of feeling under the surface, both positive and negative, but for the most part, I was able to remain in a state of constant meditative stoicism. I don't recall a tear falling from my eyes between the age of 19 and 31. (Someone will probably fact check me on that). Now here I am, soon to be 36 and thanks to my little boy, things that used to bring a lump to my throat that I could push back down after a moment now have me blinking and digging a fist into my eye. After months of attempts, I still can't make it through singing him "Puff The Magic Dragon" without having to stop and collect myself as my voice waivers. When the Capital was attacked on January 6th, I picked him up and burst into tears. And every little new thing that he does brings me more joy than hitting the Best Seller list. Some might lament the idea that once you become a parent, your life is no long your own. I don't. It's the greatest thing I could ask for.
So, did having a child affect me as a writer? Short answer: I really don't know. I have a lot less time to write, that's for damn sure. Even banging this blog post out took several pauses to make sure he at least stayed where I could see him. What I know for sure is that becoming a father undoubtedly changed me as a person and I can't imagine it wouldn't have an effect on my writing. But since I'm incredibly close to my work, it's possible I'll never see it. I don't want to change subjects. To the contrary, exploring the themes that I do becomes even more important because when you imagine the things that happen to characters in my books happening to your own child, it makes you that much more committed to ensuring that the villain gets what's coming to them in the end.
But, you, the readers will be the real judges. For perspectives sake, Unholy Shepherd was written before my son was born. A Perfect Victim was written after. You'll have to tell me if anything changed.
I don't just write novels. I just like to write. This blog will not be polished, it won't be edited closely. There will be spelling and grammar errors and it might drag on in places. But it will be fun, off the cuff, genuine, and hopefully interesting to read!