Kirk's debut novel has gotten a lot of praise, and I couldn't agree more. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you pick it up. It'll stay with you for a long time. And look at that cover! The color of yellow has been proven to inspire creativity. Love the design and execution for the way it just grabs you and doesn't let go--much like the story on the pages behind the cover.
I asked Brian to stop by my blog and talk a bit. I couldn't be happier to have him here.
Do you ever feel that instead of living a life you’re playing a game? You look in the mirror after a long day of sales calls or surgery or scaling fish and you don’t quite recognize the face? It feels fake, somehow. More like a mask. And you’re not sure why it took this form or how you became the person with all its strange trappings – the starched shirt, the wallet chain, the suburban Land Rover. And in moments like this you wouldn’t be all that surprised to hear a disembodied voice say “GAME OVER” and find yourself in a life simulation console inside an arcade of some alien boardwalk having spent your tentacled Mom’s last dollar bill.
Okay, maybe I took it too far there at the end. That happens.
My point is… Shit, what was my point?
Oh yeah, my point is, doesn’t it sometimes feel like we’re play acting a role?
I grew up loving to tell stories. Scary stories, more often than not. And writing has always been the activity that provided me with the most inner joy. But then college came and I figured it was time to choose a field of study that could become a career. My dad was in advertising, so I figured I’d do that. And that’s what I did. For nine years I worked at a large ad agency, climbing the corporate ladder, counting down the days until I could retire and roam free. I made it through about 2,000 of the requisite 12,000 days.
Pretty early on I knew it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t the work. It wasn’t the people. And it wasn’t the pay (although it was pretty abysmal at the beginning). It was the fact that I felt like a fraud. I felt like I was playing the role of an Ad Exec rather than being my authentic self. And it seemed like everyone around me was doing the same thing. Assuming this stiff, awkward posture, wearing clothes they wouldn’t normally wear, speaking in some strange language I never heard outside the office, “net-net, value add, core competencies (that no one would want to have)”.
How about this? Have you ever been with a close friend, a drinking buddy per se, and have them unexpectedly run into someone from work? Notice how their whole demeanor changes? It’s like they got caught with their pants down and must scramble to pull them up.
What is that? Why do we do it? Why do we allow ourselves to wear that phony mask?
This is one of the themes I address in my debut novel, We Are Monsters. In fact, I considered a cover design concept that looked something like this.
My book takes place inside a mental institution and studies the attempted restoration of mental health. I had an epiphany when considering this environment. It seemed to me that the patients with their crippling mental disorders were living more authentically than some of the doctors likely were. Sure, it may not be how they would choose to live. Schizophrenia doesn’t sound like fun. But they weren’t putting on a pretense. Whereas the doctors may have emotional burdens they were hiding from or shoving deep down inside.
I wanted to unmask the doctors and see what I’d find underneath. What demons lay buried there.
If that sort of thing interests you, I humbly invite you to check out my debut novel, We Are Monsters. It’s okay to read while wearing a mask. Maybe a Richard Nixon one. Or Winnie The Pooh.
Thanks for having me, Kristopher! Here’s my contact info in case anyone wants to stay in touch.