A book annalist once told me that he didn’t care for Eric’s "excessive and casual violence.” Kindly enough, this gentleman proceeded to help me by suggesting that I read one or two books from a popular author with a character he felt was similar to mine. The good news was I had already read the first novel from the recommended author. The bad news was the example he chose had a brutal protagonist. If I omit the writer’s name it's because I respect him and enjoyed his work, and it's not his fault his writing was disparately used to illustrate a point.
I admit that the condescending way the annalist presented his report was off putting (an exception among the others who helped me shape my novel). A couple of things became clear to me within the first few paragraphs of the dossier: He had little real understanding of the elements presented in the story and he read the book in passing.
There is a glamour in violence as shown in film, TV, comic books, etc. or at least there is an element of coolness associated with it. I enjoy this fantastic portrayal as much as the next guy, but when I wrote, “Sleeper’s Run,” I wanted to take a different road. You picked a fight with multiple opponents? Sorry Bruce, chances are you’ll be making a stop at the emergency room. You want to play with knifes? You better listen to your mom, because your super model career will be short-lived. Speed is more your thing? Then I hope you are insured, Speed Racer, and I’m talking about liability. Innocent bystanders often get the brunt of the violence. In 2003, an old man drove his car by mistake through a farmers market in Santa Monica, California killing nine people and injuring almost 60 others. No trained stuntmen jumped out of the way in the nick of time.
I depict violence in my work, but I don’t glamorize it. This is a conscious choice. However, the more I understand about self-defense, whether with a gun, blade or empty hands, the less inclined I’m to romanticize myself in a situation that might require the use of any of those skills. This has been reinforced by listening to men in the military, law enforcement and even those civilians that have the uncomfortable experience of having to defend themselves. If I were to treat violence casually, I wouldn’t spend so much time writing about the price of unleashing it.
Keep on running!
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