Monday, December 15, 2014

Why I write: 4 Things to consider for the Ministry of Bombs

With everything I write, I write to evoke thought in the reader, to change their angle on the world, to change their accepted truths (whether I achieve this, remains to be seen). Now, I understand that most writers would frown upon this, that they would even say that fiction is not to be used as such, and when it is, it’s weaker for it. So be it. I disagree. And the fact that many who say this write the kind of fiction that does not speak to me only goes to further my beliefs. Furthermore, I’m also crossing another line I’m not supposed to: I’m reacting to reviews (on my book) that I’ve read and that seem to miss the main point of what I’ve written (I know, I know, the writing is less important than the reading, and once it's been written, it's out of the author's hands...).

1. The cover 


To begin with: the title and the cover are meant to make you, the reader, think. It starts with the name itself. Ministry of Bombs (MoB). Of course this barb is being launched at multiple departments of our foreign policy. Mainly, though, it's a play on the 1984 novel's "Ministry of Love"; soul of doublespeak and a way to subjugate all its people to a surveillance state. It is this allusion that made me choose Ministry instead of Department of. 

The cover also has the so called sign of the Ministry (implied or otherwise) and has a skull as well as a recycle sign manufactured into bombs. Again, this is a play on reality. I could have very well have redone a DOD seal, or the NSA seal, but that would not have the same effect. The point of all this was to show the department’s needs for creating bombs and bombs over and over again, creating and fighting out enemies for this is what Empire was meant to do. 

2. Thriller genre assignment.

I used to like thrillers. Da Silva and the lot of them (I do like John Le Carre, and there may very well be others I'm missing; I hope not). I was a teen and even in my early twenties when I liked them. I hate their simplicity now. I see them as nothing but an apparatus that prays for the status quo. Sure, we all want simplicity every now and then, especially when it comes to entertainment after a hard day’s work. But to perpetuate the views of the powers? No. Not now, not ever will I be a part of that. 

That being said, it’s a thriller only in a more basic sense of the word. Thus, when you approach this book, dear reader, you should keep that in mind: I’m speaking of the manner in which you view the world. If all views of the world that are touted on the news and by various news officials are ones you whole heartedly agree with, then there is but no choice but for you to either hold your breath or to move on—I have nothing for you. 

3. No black and white (there is no record of civilization which is not also a record of barbarianism. Also the granular B&W seen when zoomed into a story does not take away from the gray of the entire situation…)

I used to think that, given all the people I know in the world, that the grayness of everything is not something I should point out as the world is full of cruel state and non-state actors. But I have no more patience for it. We all play a part in this world, and if you are a citizen of a democracy and you want to leave a better world for those who will come, not a worse one, then you must make a statement because your silence only emboldens criminals to act in your name. 

And part of that is not playing into the world view that the powers require you to believe so that they can continue to act with impunity. In that sense, MofB understands that anyone, if they’re good at propaganda, can find a true story that highlights the black and white they want to show. But this is true of the any side. What a writer must do is, in my opinion, is absorb the entire picture and, while making an interesting story, spit out what is akin to the truth (the subconscious of the world). Because only fiction can stretch the mind and make everyone see the gray that exists in the world.

4. Parody of trope

MoB is meant to be, in some respects, a parody of everything the thriller holds in esteem (read: that it’s meant to play on those ideas) because, remember, good propaganda has a grain of truth to it. That the ending has seemed “unlikely” to many only goes to show how ingrained the normal endings are (save the day, the world is better, a little whiter and a little less black!). Again, it was important to me to not only show the world as close to reality as it is, but to do so while tackling tropes and hagiographies of national security apparatuses prevalent in thrillers. Too much for one writer to take on? Maybe.

It is with that thought I leave, you reader, with the choice of reading the book (or if you’ve read it, to tell other readers to join in) or walking away. It won’t be easy. But you must step away from all learned habits when you do so. You must.

Thanks again for reading.

 

 

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