Darkest Fears: behind the masks…

The Last body hit the floor, blood spurting, screams dying, jeers and harsh laughter erupting around the hall. the stench was sickening, the incessant hum of the alien hive mind as oppressive as a giant fist pressing down on his skull.

LC watched, unflinching, from the prisoner cage, next in line…

The above is the opening few lines of a novel called Darkest Fears, it’s not published yet, and no it’s not one of mine… Those are however the first lines. I only know this because its author, C. G. Hatton, surprised me by sending me a gift in the post. A copy of the Limited Edition First Chapter Preview she created for ComicCon. As gifts go, it’s fairly awesome, because, let’s face it I am a geek at heart and a bibliophile in my soul.

IMG_20170929_022317

I have never been to ComicCon. There’s a little matter of an ocean between me and it, the difficulty in getting hold of tickets and out of date passport probably doesn’t help either. But I would be lying if I said I have not always wanted to go. So being given just a smallest slither of a piece of it was bound to make me smile.

Then there is the bibliophile in me that just loves collecting books. Even tiny little ones like this that contain just a solitary chapter. I’ll slip it between a couple of other C.G. Hatton books on my shelves where they are currently residing beneath an antique ukulele Banjo after writing this, because it will need a home. The ukelele is a family heirloom that belonged to my great granddad, so a prized possession, which makes it a suitable place to put this tiny book. It is a mere coincidence that it happens to be where C.G.’s books happen to reside on my shelves. I have a lot of bookshelves, they reside between the guitars, swords, blunderbuss, duelling pistols, dvd’s,  pops, drinking horns and the occasional top hat. My house is occasionally a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of geekiness… but there you go. This odd little signed collectable limited edition mini book will feel right at home…

So why am I tell you, my erstwhile reader, all this? If you have read much of my blog you’ll know that between the Lovecraftian witterings, post on writing,  self-publishing, occasional book reviews and the general mish-mash of stuff I write on here there is the odd post that bares the merest slither of my soul. I have talked about depression a few times, and my political opinions, and on the odd occasion something important. Well important to me at any rate, or actually about me. This then is one of those posts, which also means it is one I will probably regret posting at some point, not for any good reason, but just because I prefer to hide behind masks most of the time, rather than betray my darkest fears… (Did you see what I did there? Well done, I thought you would.)

Everyone wears masks. It’s a cynical view I know, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Some of us, however, wear more masks than others. Some of us wear masks over our mask because woe betides if we let one slip, at least, we have another to fall back on. The more insecure we feel, the more insular we become, the more masks we wear. Masks of confidence to hide our insecurities. Masks of bluster, Masks of cynicism. Masks of humour, oh but it’s so much easier to make a joke out of something than face it directly. Masks built of smiles to hide our depressions. Masks, we all have them, even if we don’t know we do. I am by nature an introvert, and introverts wear the most masks of all I fear. While the darkest fear of all, is the fear of letting all the masks slip, just once, not in front of anyone else, but in front of the mirror and seeing ourselves for who we are. (see I told you it was one of those posts…)

I find it hard to let my guard down, to let a few, just a few, of those masks fall away because I really don’t do people. Everyone else seems to know how to interact with people, though I have long suspected this is because they are hiding behind masks, I never have. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not mean I cannot deal with people, it’s just I am one of those people you meet in the kitchen at parties, or who sits on the edge of the dance floor having quiet conversations. I am not unhappy about this, this is not one of the causes of my occasional bouts of depression. On the edge of things is where I prefer to be. I wear black a lot, its suitable for all occasions and lets you merge into the shadows just a little if you keep to the edge. (Yes I also have every Sister’s of Mercy album, what of it?) Basically, I am not good with people, I have found I don’t like them as a rule, people I mean. I like individuals. Which is why I have really good friends and very few casual acquaintances. Small talk has never been a skill I managed to learn, and its why I have a mortal dread of actually talking to people about my novels. I have never found a way to reply to that most awkward of questions ‘what’s it about…?’ because I expect I will look like a bumbling fool when I do.  I really need to find a ‘confident writer guy’ mask to wear, but I am not even sure I know how to make that one…

So when someone who falls outside the banner of ‘close friend’ (ie mostly my close friends are people I have known since the last century) and they give me a gift, I really have no idea how to react. I genuinely don’t… which is why when this tiny package of joy from C.G. dropped through my letterbox I was actually stumped. Oh, I contacted her on Twitter and said ‘thank you, you’re awesome, this is awesome…‘ and probably came off as a bit of a bumbling fool. (bumbling fool, that’s a really useful mask that one, slides in right next to humour as a defence mechanism). I then retreated hastily, because what do you do when someone does something nice and you’re a cynical introvert who builds walls to hang all his masks off of…

Well, it turns out a day later, when you have spent most of the evening editing your latest novel, you write this blog post. Possibly because you have spent the evening editing a chapter which for reasons best known to myself a year ago, includes a segment where the main character is considering if he should write ‘The Good Death Cell Guide’ due to the latest in a long series of misadventures…

‘It may only be because they want to keep you alive long enough to hang you but at least, they have the good grace to keep you warm. A four-star death cell. Highly recommended if you happen to be looking for a place to spend your final hours of incarceration.’

This caused me to have a moment of retrospective or did once I got past my own bewilderment at what Hannibal Smyth has managed to get himself into this time and just how ridiculous he was being. Nothing makes you consider your own ridiculousness as someone else being ridiculous, even if he is a fictional character of your own creation.

(note, I left this novel sitting fallow for about nine months after the second draft so I had genuinely forgotten that bit and quite a few others, which causes me to wonder if it is a good sign when you laugh at your own jokes when you rediscover them… Or a sign that you should stop editing for a while… but moving on…)

So, having recognised my own failings, and feeling the need to put them in order I started writing this blog post a couple of hours ago. I do that a lot as writing down my thoughts in this way helps clear my head. The majority of suvch posts don’t get published because the process is on occasion more important than the results. But on occasion they do, you know regular reader, those posts…

It was intended to be a short thank you to C.G., but I have wandered somewhat down strange byways of inner self-knowledge ( I deleted a couple of my meanderings because no one wants to see behind all my masks, not even me…) So back to where this post started…

Darkest fears is due out in 2018, I have read the first chapters and damn it 2018 seems like a bloody long wait to read the rest of it because like all of C.G. stuff is incredibly well written, this solitary chapter draws you in and is, to quote from quotes within the ‘Limited Edition First Chapter Preview’…

Written with the joy of a storyteller’s soul, fast-paced, surprising and full of the unexpected.

Which is taken from a review some bumbling idiot wrote for her last novel Beyond Redemption. I know that blurb line was written by a bumbling fool because it’s taken from my review of that novel which you can find here…

Seriously, what was I thinking,  ‘surprising and full of the unexpected‘ there is a whole lot of redundancy in that sentence … (can you tell I have spent severral evenings in a row editing…)

It is though remarkably nice to find that someone has used your words as a recommendation blurb for their novel. It’s not the first time C.G. has done that either because she also used…

A joyously fun read, and a window into the darkest corners of the real world because it is so well written.

Thankfully that was not quite as loaded with redundancy. I wrote that one in a review of Kheris Burning, the previous novel which you can find here… 

While I am linking reviews I also write one for her first novel Residual Belligerence an age ago which you can find here…

Anyway, the real point of this post is just to say thank C.G. for continuing to write awesome books, and for being such a damn well nice person and sending me a little booklet of joy.

Oh, and to tell the rest of you to go and read her novels… I may be crap at talking about my own but I can talk about hers all day …

CGHbooks

 

This entry was posted in book reviews, books, depression, dystopia, humour, opinion, pointless things of wonderfulness, reads, sci-fi, writes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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