|Submitted by G.S. Williams on Sat, 05/02/2009 - 07:14|
I've always been a pretty fearless person, when it comes to fiction. I grew up watching Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees and laughing when they eviscerated people. Not because I'm sociapathic or something, but because it was make-believe and sometimes pretty cheesie. That skewed perspective carries over to other situations. I can watch surgeries on television, E.R. or Grey's Anatomy never freaks me out, and violence in movies doesn't bother me. I've always been able to separate fact from fiction in my head.
The only movie that ever frightened me was Schindler's List, because the violence and horror actually happened. The disregard for human life was appalling. And Spielberg ratcheted up the tension constantly. I would never say it's a "favourite" movie because "favoured" implies enjoyment. But it's one of the best films I've ever watched, because of how emotionally affective it was.
So, imagine my surprise when I found myself a little afraid of a fictional character.
I began writing No Man an Island more than ten years ago. It was supposed to be simple enough; I was going to write an apocalyptic story with angels and demons from the perspective of a normal human being, and it would closely parallel events in the Revelation to St. John. It was linear and straight-forward. But that wasn't enough for my imagination -- I started visualizing scenes in the book, and they had nothing to do with the original plotline.
What's the big deal, visualizing a scene? Writers use their imagination all the time, right? Yes, but I'm not a big visualizer. I'm primarily a linguistic person -- I don't often picture things, I tell myself stories about them. I deal with ideas more than visions. Actually picturing a scene meant my imagination was working over-time, and I thought it worthwhile to listen. That's how Mara got into the story, after I saw Ethan attacked in the cemetery and rescued by an angel. I needed to know where she came from.
Reza, however, snuck his way in. I had a character sketch for what would one day be called the Samaritan Project, since grade nine, and it just stuck in my head. I started seeing this character attacking the companions in NMAI and wondered how he got into the story. I was once writing a scene for an entirely different, fantasy-based novel and he showed up there to break someone's legs, a scene I moved to NMAI because he obviously wanted to be written about. He wouldn't take no for an answer.
The scenes where Reza captures and murders the companions are by and large some of the most visceral, sensory and well-written in the entire novel. People commented on their effectiveness on the old site, and people I know in person who have read the book have said similar things. Looking at the text, the scenes themselves "show" without "telling" and actually teach me a lot about my potential as a writer.
One of the greatest compliments to my writing came about in an odd way: my brother took me to see The Dark Knight this past summer, and afterward commented on the Joker, saying "He's SO Reza!" My character had been so compelling to him that he felt the need to compare the best villain in a film that I've seen in years to my creation. Joker's nihilistic tendencies, his glee when he's destructive, they're amazing to watch in performance. And my brother saw shades of Donovan Reza. My make-believe villain.
So why am I afraid of him? Because I always believed that my characters were pieces of me, tiny little shards I could blow up to life-sized people and write stories around. If Reza's a part of my psyche, he's a pretty twisted part. If he's not, then that's even more frightening. Because where did he come from?