Fairy Tale / Life Stories / New Book

The narrative of redemption — or why I seldom write HEA

I’m struggling with something. My husband and I just had an argument about a passage in my latest book, where he could not understand why the female protagonist was taunting the male protagonist. He questioned why there wasn’t more inner dialogue so that we could understand her motivations. I laughed and then got angry, because I find literature clumsy when every feeling must be explained in tedious unrealistic, self aware inner monologue. It’s at the heart of most of our real-life arguments. We don’t often know why we say or do things in the moment and need time to reflect. People are complex, we don’t typically carry on an internal monologue on what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. Sometimes I look for affirmation by being nasty, because I’m trying to call attention to the fact that I’m hurting, so I hurt back (with words).

Now, I’m not a proponent of gendered responses. In real life, I abhor judging someone, or being judged, based on gender, but I also realize that I write characters which may represent an archetype. My latest book is about the Father, which is a male archetypal figure. This means something in Jungian psychology, namely that there’s a spiritual (cosmic) component of opposing principles. But more so, there are certain archetypal physiological responses that are born from evolutionary pressures. I often write from various perspectives, not all characters act or think the way one may be prejudiced to imagine because of their gender or sexual preferences, I like to surprise my readers. But I do keep one consistent theme, people don’t change much. Certainly not in the length of one novel. Even after some reflection, most people return to their hard-wired responses. The staunch belief that they can change themselves or others is the narrative of redemption. Various religions propose this. “We can achieve salvation if we can give up our weaknesses.” I do believe that life tempers us, and that trauma (illness) can certainly jolt us into changing our habits. But fundamentally, once our brain has developed certain coping strategies, we fall back on them over and over even if they are damaging or self defeating. Books with happy endings propose that same narrative. Unfortunately, I write about the dark side of existence, the stubborn struggle to force change without realizing its futility. These are the arguments my protagonists have with each other, mirroring the arguments I’ve encountered in real life. It’s not for everyone, my books are dark. But as a certain wisdom espouses, it reaffirms in me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to do what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The Father

March 4, 2020