Happy Happy Happy
I’m generally a genuinely happy person, but I’m compelled to write quite grim fiction. And ‘compelled’ is absolutely the word. Left to my own devices, I will endeavour to make things as difficult and unpleasant for my characters as possible, without really thinking about it.
When I do think about it, though, I feel a bit guilty. A bit like a tourist. And I wonder why I don’t write more escapist fiction, or even just more celebratory stuff.
I think the answer is that, really, the books I love are those that wake me up a bit, the books that are upsetting, the books that don’t take me away from the world but instead force me brain-first into it in ways that I didn’t anticipate. And when it comes to writing, I… well, I just don’t quite see the point in writing happy books. Entertaining books, yes, fine, and of course many of the most effective and moving books are also entertaining – some of my favourite books ever are Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Chronicles, which are enormously entertaining – but ‘entertaining’ and ‘happy’ are two different things.
How do other people feel about this? I am starting to worry that maybe I am a ‘curmudgeon’.