Psychological Suspense as Multi-faceted, Ambiguous Complexity of Life

hairbookWe are the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves and the nature of reality, and there is never a moment in those stories we can stand on, if we are honest, and calmly survey all the rest as our Queendom, which we keep in perfect order and control, all in its place, accounted for by census. We could stand on another moment and look around at the waters we are desperately drowning in, next to the other moments we flew out of laughing.

Reading “The Stray Horse,” from Piano Stories, by Uruguayan author Felisberto Hernandez, I am reminded how much I love immersion into the Alice in Wonderland reality of a mind grappling with reality. The narrator begins by telling us in a perfectly straightforward way about his childhood as he studied piano with a teacher he was inordinately fond of as a boy.

Then, the cohesive, linear, objective story stops suddenly as his mind is no longer able to maintain that semblance of reality. “I refused to enclose my memories in a grid of space and time.” He becomes disturbed, trapped in the belief that he is being is taken over by an inchoate partner. I find this shift in the narrative, where the book unravels, as compelling as any I have ever read. Perhaps the most honest I have seen in my life.

Like Proust’s digressions on the nature of memory, Piano Stories displays the raw inability to write a true memoir, the random links between things, the subjective causality and the reasonableness of what to include, the shameful parts that are left out with the implication they never occurred. So much lives in the white space between scenes and chapters. This is where truth exists. And we can only hint at it with that silence from which the semblance of reality arises, and is shuffled, is read by the readers a bit at a time in the bath, skipped over during moments of distraction, to be read again, and marked with a pen, the pages turned down, never to be returned to.

Any time if we examine our thoughts honestly, our memories do not flow out chronologically, in perfect detail and clarity; our identity does not remain the same throughout our live, and as we look back to assess it moment by changing moment. We are unreliable narrators to ourselves and to others, as we present ourselves as we want or as we fear, depending on the patterns our varying dopamine and serotonin levels present us with.

We affirm we’ve been a mild success in our lives after enthusiastic applause at a reading, for example. Or we’ve always really been a bit of a failure, when no applause is forthcoming, our audience looking away uncomfortably and talking among themselves. We’re good looking if we drink a bottle of water — or perhaps a glass of wine. We’re flabby and pasty if we don’t. We wake up from a dream of love believing we’re still young with dewy potential. An hour later we come to terms with our permanently wrinkled isolation. In other words, put in your own version of these unsettling shifts.

Maybe one day you believe in the God of your childhood and the next day you find it no longer makes sense. Maybe you thought your child chose you to be born to because you’d been together lifetimes and the next you realize he had no choice but to be made out of biological mass and is just struck with you. You felt a sense of fairness, believing your parents supported you because of karma, and then were humiliated when you discovered the dubious origin of of the concept of karma. Maybe you grew up reading books you completely believed in and later found out were fascist. Maybe you based your belief system on events you discerned suddenly were hoaxes. These are some of the kinds of revelations characters in the novels in my Agents of the Nevermind series face, particularly in Giant Jack.

Because none of us have changeless, monolithic minds, Psychological Suspense is an honest genre to portray humanity. The protagonists of books and movies of that style stand on unstable ground, often because they were put there by someone else who wishes to keep them in a weakened state. And ultimately, our culture needs us to feel insecure, needy, and incomplete, to be lucrative consumers and voters.

Sometimes obsessed protagonists have frayed morality they can’t grab onto and do criminal things, have serious flaws, yet we bond with them, uncomfortably recognizing our own nightmares of hiding someone we’ve murdered, or becoming a zoo full of braying and roaring animals let loose on an unsuspecting landscape.

We all have a distorted world-view. Since the age of Post-modernism, we have to admit the limited and biased science of humans can’t explain everything. Scientific studies can’t be replicated, or their replications show opposite results; scientists are bought off; their biases influence the answers; the logic is outdated; the truth is covered up and people who champion it are demonized.

Yes, the quest to find better truth, a closer sense of how things are, what we don’t and don’t know is admirable, and echoed in the protagonists’ journey through Psychological Suspense. Readers who feel the intensity of such a quest within themselves, who enjoy the rush of finding out they were wrong about one thing after another, and feel compassion for others going through that process can be drawn to Psychological Suspense and Psychological Thrillers.

Why Psychological Suspense?

glossalalia coverWhy would I want to write a set of Psychological Suspense books? Maybe for some of the same reasons you like reading or writing them. Maybe you haven’t thought much about the category, and its rules; I’ll address a few in this post that may clarify your experience with that kind of book.

The focus in Psychological Suspense is on character depth and complexity rather than technology, justice, or speed of action, as it is in some types of Thrillers. Studies show when readers identify with protagonists we remain physically changed by them for a long time. We vicariously go through their experiences in an intimate way.

I want to help readers imagine what it could be like to experience the kind of bewilderment is possible in this complicated world we live in. Maybe readers who have experienced long term confusion find such books familiar, realistic, even cathartic, as the protagonist figures things out. The world making some amount of sense can be a relief by the end, yet there remains the awareness that our society runs on continual illusion, and the nature of reality and personality are not likely to ever be fully grasped completely.

My books in this set could also be considered Political Thrillers, secondarily, as the confusion happens from outside sources deliberately affecting them for a large social agenda, not just personal issues. My interest is in how social engineering for political purposes creates personal illusions deliberately — and the glory of finding lucidity.

Psychological Suspense helps us identify with the victims who may or may not turn things around and come out in one piece, maybe toward the Thriller direction of saving a large number of others as well. As I’m not a policeman, lawyer, doctor, or in the military, I don’t feel qualified to write those kinds of Thrillers. But as a citizen in a society that runs on propaganda, demonizing truth-seekers, paid trolls, corrupt politicians, toxic environment, etc. I can speak for the masses who have to find their way through the morass. And I can help create a sense of empowerment by the end, motivating people to keep pushing for fairness, standing up for themselves, and focusing on facts rather than propaganda.

Psychological Suspense must be emotional, with feelings being honored. I find pure outward, technical action less interesting that something more well-rounded, though those things are also important to me. My writing is naturally full of science and facts, as I try to point out the effects of little-known history, and draw attention to military technology that is in place. So I counterbalance that by forcing myself to also remember the readers want to feel heart-pounding fear, and not get too caught up in the cerebral. Being in touch with authentic feelings is a good part of lucidity and being able to avoid being mislead by falsehoods.

In Glossolalia, Nancy has been traumatized in a way that affects her understanding of the world, and she must come to grips with how it’s changed her. She doesn’t just get it intellectually, but the emotions have to be part of her revelation for it to work. The reader’s personal involvement with her can make that kind of trauma real, and make it matter more than just reading about such things with the distance of non-fiction about how such processes take place.

No World View, No World View at All, Sir, No Worries, Sir

It makes sense that for a novel to have the widest universal appeal, it must offend the smallest number of people, not make people turn away from it because their politics or religion are different, their opinions about what scientific choices our culture are following are good, and which bad, about controversial subjects. It can’t be revolutionary, question societal norms, imply anything about government, trends, lifestyle, preferences. And somehow, a lot of books do manage to approximate that impossible “ideal” by strict avoidance of anything that could temp the authors to express individual thought.

But is it truly possible? What seems like a neutral book would only seem to a certain population, because they share world-views. If the book were translated and given to a shaman in an obscure primitive country, for example, the world view would seem very bizarre to him, and would not fit how he interpreted reality. Really, what book publishers are looking for when they require authors to avoid taking a stance on anything is that they want them to fit the status quo.

Here is a quote from Kindle Scout guidelines.

To give your book the best chance of passing review and qualifying for all featured Amazon marketing, you should design a great cover while avoiding the use of:

– Representations of violence, including weapons, blood, or graphic gore
– Iconography, paraphernalia, or imagery that represents a distinct world view, point of view, or political stance
– Partial nudity or provocative imagery that is suggestive of sex or violence”

Authors, characters, books, and themes should have no distinct world view. No point of view. Think about that for a minute. Is that not a somewhat shocking and extreme concept? I’d be curious to hear what you think about that, not just for Kindle Scout. I have no beef with them, am just using them as an example of something much larger in the publishing industry.

Is not taking a stance, making a subtle recommendation through the action, drawing attention through the events to policies that could change, or should be more thoroughly implemented, showing how certain beliefs and practices would play out in narrative a great opportunity for authors? Isn’t that what a lot of people consider the mark of a great book, and the deepest role of an author in the context of cultural progress? Getting people to think?

True, the quote from Kindle Scout is only referring to the cover, but it has to apply also to the text itself, at least to some degree, and I feel it’s a common consideration. What does it mean in Literary Fiction to have no world view? To be a Progressive. To share the same political orientation as most others do within that niche, to be an atheist Liberal. Nothing wrong with that in the least.

But it’s just not — no world view. It just dismisses other world views as not something to consider. Maybe to be popular in that niche, the books shouldn’t have a protagonist whose atheism makes people think, or who confronts a religious person about his beliefs in a way that implies the author shares those ideas. Maybe Republicans, Greens, or Libertarians should not be protagonists. The protagonists’ personal qualities should make people assume they are Democrats, because that’s what the majority of the readers (which means other writers) are in the Literary Small Press enclave.

Vaccines should always be accepted, along with any other Big Pharma drugs, hippies should always be stereotypes, guns are bad, m’kay, anything CNN says happened happened, conspiracies don’t exist, getting drunk is great, all history text books are right, even when they contradict themselves, got it, buster?

But what about Genre? For Kindle Scout, that’s apparently just as much about fitting in and not causing a stir as the Literary books. There is really more leeway there in publishing in general, because there are more readers. If the book has an unpopular political take on the world, there are still more buyers for it with a subset of the population than any Literary book would have, no matter how it fit the dominant paradigm. But the Top 5 of course, would not put it out. That’s one wonderful thing that the self-publishing revolution in Genre books has accomplished — the allowability of personal or unsanctioned viewpoints. In other words, freedom of speech.

Kindle Scout talks about how to make the cover, and isn’t asking for professionally made ones. Where do authors go for that? Many use free photos, and even more use companies that go through pre-made images. Many professional designers also use the images offered out there rather than commissioning new ones. What are the choices?

Take a look at what’s available. Everyone is white. They all have conservative hair, other than the evil-doers. The women are thin and shorter than the men, with medium sized to small breasts and butts, unless they are sexpots, and then they have large breasts and butts. No minorities other than a few African Americans, but no Asians, no mixed, no Filipinos. Looking for an image of a Hispanic executive in stock photos? Good luck with that.

Do any women on the covers have a little pudge, dress down, wear glasses, have frizzy hair, or freckles? If they do, are they going to get the guy? Only if they are secondary characters there to add humor. Are any of people in stock photos unusually tall or short, are beautiful, exciting people in wheelchairs or with white canes? Do any of the male protagonists in the photos have hairy backs, uneven bald spots, moles, narrow shoulders and pale skin? If they do, take a guess at what kinds of roles they play and which they are excluded from. Are they ever shorter or thinner or younger than the women they’re with, unless that’s the point of the book?

There is a strong world view about who matters, who is acceptable for what roles in fiction, who we pay attention to as the protagonist and who is relegated to being in the subplot, largely because of money. The largest buyers for the stock photos have to be represented almost entirely, and advertisers target them. But my point here goes beyond the need for diversification. I’m really looking at an existential thing. “No distinct point of view.”

Seriously, what does that even mean? I would love to hear what people think. “No distinct world view.” Where would that leave Philip K. Dick? Where would that leave anyone? You, me? I mean, a robot, or a mind controlled slave, sure, they can have pretty indistinct world views. But people? How can that be, and what does that statement do to the psyche of authors who want to submit their books there, or to other publishers, most of which have similar criteria, just don’t spell it out. I’m glad Scout actually came out and said it.

We must all have the same world view that doesn’t make waves, or express individual passions and eccentricities, much less thoughts that a large minority of the dominant country have. The world view we share must not be stated directly to be up for dissection but only be understated, implied, so people don’t even realize it’s there, and accept it as reality.

This doesn’t affect only writers, but it affects how all the readers think too, and even people who don’t read fiction, who only see the book covers in the stands. This is social engineering on a macro scale, more effect than direct communication, but through the subconscious acceptance that the images we see on popular book covers represent “no world view.” And that, my friend, is a fiction.

Somatics recommendation, which I’ll also be presenting at a panel next week with audience movement participation

Authors, do you ever think about your body in conjunction with your writing, beyond acknowledging that Horror makes you feel fear, Suspense makes you feel tense, and Romance might make you feel all tingly? Do you let those feels stagnate in your body once you’ve gotten them happening by reading, or listening to a work of fiction, or do you then take what’s been created and move it through your body? Do you employ movement when writing to help create those and much more subtle and complex range of bodily reactions in your audience?

Here is an article I wrote briefly describing the &Now Festival of New Writing coming up end of March near LA, where I’ll be on a panel. The way of moving I suggest applies to Genre writers as much as to the wild multi-media experimental Literary type attending in person.

You know the persistent cultural image of the stereotypical author hunched over a laptop while others are out socializing, dancing, laughing together, having adventures, hiking, playing tennis, getting it on. Everything we experience comes through out bodies, of which our brains are a part, yes? Do you ever take time to notice how what you like to read makes your body feel, and where? Do you have to just label it with a word, but can you express it physically?

If you pay attention to how you feel what you read and hear, that can help you know the physical effect you want to create for your own readers. And if you match that state with your body as you’re in the process of making your narrative, if you act out how your work will accomplish that in your readers, you’ll have a stronger chance of doing so.

I use movement every time I’m ready to come up with the next big turn in my narratives, to gather up the big reveal to myself, from the standpoint of action, excitement, forward motion on the page. I gesture big, pace quickly, dance, leap, diagram in the air. I act out what the characters are feeling and doing, and what I want the readers to feel.

Feel free to look through my page in my Online Writing Academy site full of Somatics suggestions.

Spiral structure in Unside: A Book of Closed Time-Like Curves

Though my novel, Unside, is Science Fiction, it has some Literary elements, such as innovative structure, which I feel should still leave it accessible for genre readers. What this means is that the Plot Reversals are are so sharp, they turn in on themselves.

A Plot Reversal is a core element of plot which keeps any successful book from proceeding linearly and being boring. The protagonist’s encounter with the antagonist shows him some new insight and he reassesses and veers off in a different direction.

In Unside, these reassessments are drastic because of the nature of the illusions and deceptions the protagonist is under, as he learns things are not at all what they seem. I chose this structure partly to mimic the intensity I experience, and others like me, when we look deeply into the reality of our society. It becomes full of thrills and chills, more and more euphoric, perhaps grimly euphoric.

CounterIntelligence’s job is to fool the public, and this does not just apply to foreign countries but domestic citizens as well. For example, to protect the secrecy of military advanced technology, they created the hoax that aliens were interacting with us, to throw people off the scent in other countries, but of course, we had to believe it here too. Unside obliquely references this history at some point in the novel. As people who believed in such hoaxes try to look into them, they find layers and layers of deceit by Counter Intelligence agents who pretend to be involved. This particular hoax began in the 1940s and and is well documented.

Kenneth Arnold was a CIA disinfo agent and invented his story about a UFO for them; similarly, the Maury Island story from 1946 was is disinformation; Fred Crisman was a CIA disinformationist. The CIA promoting the lie of alien vehicles in 1952 in the mainstream press using assets like Henry Luce and Roswell was perhaps the most famous cover-story to make people look away from the reality toward the hoax that aliens had landed.

While many sitings remain mysterious and unidentified and strange things do occur, in general, UFOs have been shown to be military, based on Paperclip technology, and various countries’ Intelligence agencies fabricate hoaxes to cover up their military secrets, which only makes sense for them to do strategically. It does mess with people’s heads, though.

CounterIntelligence agents took on different roles to look like they were hiding it, were contactees, were disagreeing with other contactees over which aliens were good and which bad, etc. to make a maze for people trying to get at the truth. So, in situations like this, people who penetrate those illusions find themselves aghast which each new layer they uncover, being fooled with each layer until finally seeing past them all.

The experience of reading this novel should mimic that, as the reader realizes more deeply how the characters are being tricked. As the story progresses, it becomes more obviously Science Fiction the more the layers are revealed. That sense of realizing the deceits in our culture is tingling, scintillating, a rush, and I wanted to create that sensation in the reader with each new turn that spins the narrative around to took at itself from a completely different angle, on a deeper level.

I also chose the spiral structure to mimic the closed time-like curves, and the Lens-Thirring Effect that creates Frame Dragging. Various scientists and pseudo-scientists have proposed the energy from that — the friction created by the spinning of a body such as the Earth — can be milked as a power source, and that possibility is considered in this novel. It is not only considered in the macro sense, but also in the micro sense, in a whimsical way, and also in a sinister sense that involves the reader himself, his own experience of the spiral structure’s mind-blowing Plot Reversals being a kind of Lens-Thirring Effect in itself.

The Table of Contents reflects this spiral effect, not in its shape on the page, but numerically. As the characters begin again and encounter the realm of The Fool, it begins again, at 0. By the end, it has broken down into fractions, imaginary numbers, etc. This is the main cerebral, playful Experimental element of the novel, something to entertain my Innovative Literary Fiction audience.

In another sense, the plot is traditional, just very dramatic, as the tension arcs over the course of its 80,000 pages. I have studied and taught and edited traditional structure and know it very well. I like to venture beyond predictable formula at times, however, if there is a good reason for it, and I encourage other authors to do so too when it’s feasible and entertaining.

The End of Awful Words

Eventually, everyone realized no one really likes to read fiction by obscure writers. But everyone had become an obscure writer. So, they divided up daily by a new automated lottery into readers and writers. The readers were paid for their time. The idea of buying books became so outdated no one could remember that model.

Some people screwed with the system, and used their behind-the-scenes clout to avoid being readers, and were able to be only writers. Social classes were formed, with the permanent readers near the bottom, though at least they were gainfully employed. The writers had to steal from them to survive, but it was better than reading that awful stuff.

The readers revolted, and killed off most of the writers. They had no more source of income, but they didn’t care. No more words. Silence. Peace. Death. Finally.

Becoming a Genre Babe

When I was growing up, I read Literary Fiction. I had a William Faulkner shrine in my room. I listened to, sang, and performed classical music. I wasn’t very impressed by pop culture. I liked avant-garde, innovations in plot structure that involved looking at the story from more than one perspective, metaphysical concepts and explorations outside the norm. I was thrilled in High School by the film with Merce Cunningham’s dance troupe dancing deliberately out of synch to John Cage’s industrial noise around Marcel Duchamp’s Big Glass sculpture.

As I continued, I read about Phenomenology and Postmodernism, applying them to Nouveau Roman authors like Robbe-Grillet. I loved reading every book containing Literary Criticism of another French New Novelist, Claude Simon’s method of cutting up the flow and reassembling it. The spaces between stories that freed them from the glue of linearity and being approached in only one way was inspiring to me. I got excited by metafiction like Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth, complexity like Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths, breaks in continuity like Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler.

I wanted to add my voice in a lasting way to the advancing dialogue of Literature, explore new ways to blow up plot conventions, character defaults. I wrote about forbidden topics and rebelled against traditions of characters always being young and beautiful, white and employed. I wrote a lot of realism, but it never supported the dominant paradigm that leads to wars under false pretenses, superficial commercialism, and sneaky social engineering. The very structure common to fiction relies on the over-stimulation of the adrenal glands, creating addiction, weakness, irritability, burn-out, desensitization, and the need for other stimulants. I proposed a style called Lucid Fiction, which many authors told me they enthusiastically embraced, which varies from the safety of the default.

I created the website, Everything Experimental Writing, which often over the years receives over 1000 hits a day. It always receives several thousands, even though I don’t update it often any more. I published a lot of brave authors in Exclusive Magazine. I was not in circumstances when I did the first issue that allowed me to get much sleep, so the quality of presentation is embarrassing. But the work is good, and each author was required to write about his or her reasons, methods, and goals for venturing outside the norm. I performed at the &Now Festival of New Writing in San Diego, and read with some of the top experimental fiction figures in Chicago at the Ballroom of the Chicago Art Institute. I teach experimental fiction writing with UCLA X Writing Program, Writers College, and my own academy. I’ve had my non-traditional fiction, and poetry published very widely in journals, anthologies, and books. Another one is coming out from ELJ in December, an illustrated Slipstream novella.

Formula wasn’t my thing. I had no idea why anyone would like that. But I did enjoy quite a bit of genre, and off-genre work all along, such as Weird Fiction, and novels by John Crowley and Robert Holdstock. I liked my mysteries with a touch of Paul Auster, my politics sprinkled with Philip K. Dick. I was well aware that the major SF authors like Heinlein and others putting out the alien hoax were promoting CounterIntelligence’s agenda. I had no desire to write commercial fiction.

But then, many years ago, as I prepared to go back into teaching writing at the university level, I started ruthlessly studying all the tropes, techniques and trends of all the different genres. And I eventually started writing in them more often, partly to have the experience for teaching about the process, and to show I could be a good role model for it. The more Speculative, Thriller, Mystery, and other genres I read, finding some that push against society’s rules, the more I liked them, and came to actually sort of lose my taste for Literary, and Avant-garde. I’d wanted to semi-lose my taste temporarily so I could understand the world-view of Genre folks, to write and teach it well. I didn’t realize how effective that mind-flip would be.

I still was a Literary lady, though, and I enjoy Interstitial genres, like Slipstream, Magical Realism, New Wave Fabulism, Neo-Noir, and Weird, fascinating ways to explore past the growing trend for Literary to be strict realism. I think realism in Literary fiction is great, especially as long as people are willing to really look at some of the most important issues in the world straight-on — but I don’t really find people doing that to speak of at all.

I realized the real-world topics I was most interested in tended to be outside the scope of most Literary world folks’ research. I’ve had a couple hundred stories in journals and anthologies, but the ones I am most passionate about, the more politically engaged ones, have become the only hard ones to place. As the prose quality seems similar, that pattern suggests to me that perhaps it’s the controversial subject matter that has makes it less quickly picked up. I think I’ve been sending it to the wrong genre.

I see much less engaged Literary fiction than I did in the past, and fewer magazines that publish it. I’d hoped people into innovative structures and new perspectives in fiction would also be driven to take the time to look behind mass media and alternative media propaganda. But work that is outside the two-party system and questions what the state-sanctioned “authorities” say is no longer represented in Literary fiction. I knew controversial material would be hard for the Big Five to publish, as they are supported by the Corporatocracy that promotes the illusions through the Mockingbird media. (Mockingbird Program is the official CIA control of media.)

I came to realize that the scope of Literary fiction is more personal than political, about topics on a smaller scale, and it’s also driven by the authors’ social media. Authors on social media have to keep information that doesn’t fit in with propaganda off places like Facebook if they they want to be accepted by other Literary authors, editors, publishers, students, fellowship granters, and readers. And without Facebook sharing and camaraderie, publications are rarely read. Authors tend to read stories others share partly out of shared interests and affection, but also for networking, raising status, hopes of being read themselves. They can’t take a chance on any risky ideas, no matter how fact-based and well-documented the source material. I love and respect the Innovative Literary fiction crowd, and I still read their work. And I still have some of my Literary writing coming out in journals and anthologies, as well as a novella forthcoming from ELJ. Most of that is Interstitial, neither straightforward realism, nor full-on avant-garde.

Some of my Interstitial fiction, while it has a Literary tone to some degree, is also labeled Speculative, whether it’s Horror on the Weird side, Paranormal Fantasy that deals with auras, telepathy, and egregores (like tulpas,) or SF that is often cross-genre. Those pieces are what I bring to this blog. In the past, I found getting my poetry published too easy after nearly a hundred of them in print, so I started from scratch with Literary fiction. I found that too easy, and now I’ve started over with Genre, and have been enjoying some success, including monetarily, in a field in which most people dislike Literary; my background in that style only works against me when submitting.

I now eagerly seek out Genre almost exclusively in novels, enthusiastically checking the free two-foot library a few blocks away for it all the time. I’ve stopped writing strictly Literary other than when reading submission calls I can’t help but comply with. I heartily enjoy writing many genres, not just politically oriented work, or making a social point, but for the love of it, for entertaining readers, participating in the world of Genre fiction that I’ve come to admire so very much, more and more over the years. I have written Genre fiction enough recently that I have plenty new material for two large collections of new Genre fiction, if I happen to chose to submit them. One is Neo-Noir and the other is Speculative.

I really like helping Literary folks see the value of Genre, and vice versa, and softening the leeriness between the two camps. I like helping people find the interstices and understand the definitions and histories of obscure terms like Magical Realism, which I consider to be highly engaged politically according to its true nature. I find SF, Horror/Weird, Paranormal Fantasy, Mystery, I’m bridging a lot of styles of writing, and I hope, collecting readership across a wide spectrum. I suspect when my more controversial Genre material comes out, I may possibly lose some of the Literary fans and associates, and that breaks my heart. I love and support them in spite of differences in perspective. They are my clan.

I now particularly value gaining new tribe members among Genre folks who are interested in Conspiracy Thrillers and political SF and the cross pollination of those styles. It’s a tricky place to be in, changing who I am, coming out as someone who has been an activist, sometimes putting my life, career, and degrees on the line for dangerous physical actions. I realize the facts I deal in have been sequestered from a lot of people by the clever psychological manipulation techniques as taught by Edward Bernays and others. Many people just don’t know the facts are there, hiding under pretense. And they’ve been taught not to look. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and see my way as the only way. I just am sad that many don’t look at the facts to see if they agree or not, because of the effectiveness of social programming, and the common human trait of believing the first thing they hear from an “authority,” particularly if their emotions are triggered by masterful methods.

While I know the majority of genre readers and writers are also unaware of the machinations behind the political scenes, such as the covert reasons for wars and the ways to make people support the wars and hate the newly chosen enemies which have been set up by the CIA, I see tremendously more brave political engagement and statements about the world at large in Genre fiction than Literary. So, so much more. My own novel and some of my novellas and novelettes involve patsies, false flags, covert testings, an unsavory medical establishment, CounterIntelligence hoaxes, governmental black magic, mind control, corporate corruption, surveillance, etc.

I’ve written my lengthy narratives, including my novel Unside, on the edge of Genre and Literary, crossing territories left and right, which is an uncomfortable place to be when preparing to categorize and market. Very little of that mixture happens in fiction. I have a tendency to sabotage myself that way, by including the beauty of fresh language and believing people are ready to abandon genre limitations and predictability. The characters include homosexual males, but it’s not a “gay novel.” Characters are middle aged, comfy, or eccentric, and love happens between an older woman and younger man. The book changes apparent genres as layers of illusion are stripped off and we see the virtual reality underneath, and the conspiracy underneath that. Its table of contents takes Innovative Literary risks, as it’s conceptually spiral, to fit the subject matter. It’s based on science and questions current pseudo-science, but is not hard-edged. It follows more than one protagonist. It has the themes of Cyberpunk without the stylized youth-culture fashion. It’s Paranormal SF without having vampires, or zombies. It was to be put out by a publisher for three years but then the publisher took a turn in a different direction, and in the meantime, self-publishing has become more lucrative than traditional for most authors. Hmm…

But obviously, most people really do want those formulas. And so, moving forward, I’m training myself to like predictability, understand the appeal, and write that way. In the process, I have to become in some ways more formulaic in my thinking, my tastes, my ways of relating to other people and presenting myself. I’m trying to get and accept why people like movies with explosions and chases, obsessive knife-fights, inevitably young fabulous-looking characters, black-and-white thinking, last minute saves, adrenal-pumping fear, simplification, unrealistic plots, sensationalism, and avoidance of accurate truths that could cause repercussions if the work becomes well-known. I am not a fan of adrenalin addictive movies and books, as that’s unhealthy. But I’m embracing it anyway. I watch a lot of action movies lately on YouTube rather than avant-garde foreign films by directors like Sergei Paradjanov, who was sent to Siberia twice for making surreal movies, because only realism fit the Communist party line.

I get thrilled every time I find more books by authors who take a chance on political insights that don’t glorify the CIA, act like the police are always the good guys, or act like the FBI would never set someone up for nefarious purposes. I commend these brave authors. It’s a Neo-Noir sensibility that sees the corruption in the government all the way to the top. They often have to couch it safely in the future, with SF. I like that awareness of the Dystopianism our transhumanism is taking us to. They write in the formula enough that large numbers of people get to hear their words, even while breaking the rules of who can be the bad guy. I’m very grateful to them. The book I’m currently most looking forward to reading is Sibel Edmond’s novel, The Lone Gladio, which combines the formula with its own reversal, for the sake of truth.

I enjoy reading and writing playful, whimsical, unpredictable Genre, gleefully scary stuff, and dealing with paranormal topics that I find relevant. I’ve totally become a Genre Babe! Besides the fun stuff, I also am compelled to write controversially serious work. Now, I’m working toward material like that which I’d like to hope a lot of people would buy. I not only want to get lots of readers thinking of new possibilities of how our world might work, and to entertain the people who see through the veils of illusion, but to support myself financially even more with fiction. I become whom I must become, even if that means getting a little formulaic around the edges.

The REAL crime fiction

For the sake of being commercially viable and safe, much crime fiction ignores truths that are controversial, dangerous, pandering instead to a brainwashed populace. Major publishers understandably have to consider what kinds of friends and enemies in high places their book’s messages make them. But some authors do take that chance of rocking the boat, and I’d like to see more people take risks to produce authentic, culturally meaningful Thriller/Suspense/Mystery unafraid of referencing the fictionalized news in our Cover-up Culture. I, myself, like to write crime fiction that brings attention to people destroyed by, or fighting, the system brutalizes innocent people by distorting reality.

Should we ignore the real crimes against the human psyche by corrupt law professionals, the creation of patsies, COINTELPRO style undermining of the lives of activists, manipulation of citizens through disinformation in the news and CounterIntelligence-created cults? Should we turn a blind eye to the military taking over countries for a sneaky agenda, the ruthlessness of hidden interconnectedness including pest control/waste management – food/poison manufacture — evangelists/government — Theosophy/UN — and so on?

I find crime fiction that props up the corrupt paradigm to be boring, predictable, and old hat. I get excited when I read, or watch movies, that rebel against fakery. Most popular authors seem to present the police or Intelligence agents as being always the good guys, or they single out rogue members of a supposedly great agency. However, many readers are hungry for smart revelations and useful information; when narratives get them to think, and point them cautiously in the direction of true societal crime on a large scale, it’s a service instead of distracting entertainment that reinforces demeaning propaganda.

I prefer to write about crimes which are not simply personal but which are common social problems, such as the FBI creating terrorists by suggesting and funding people otherwise not inclined or capable of committing major crimes.

US: Terrorism Prosecutions Often An Illusion Human Rights Watch reports: “Multiple studies have found that nearly 50 percent of the federal counterterrorism convictions since September 11, 2001, resulted from informant-based cases. Almost 30 percent were sting operations in which the informant played an active role in the underlying plot.”

Substantial numbers of newscasters are paid by the CIA or bribed and backmailed to create the fiction warmongers want people to believe, such as Udo Ulfkotte bravely admits. I like fiction that doesn’t shy away from revealing the lies beneath the brainwashing of our society.

I suspect the majority of Literary readers/writers are not particularly passionate or educated about true crime topics. They would be required to question what authorities paid by CounterIntelligence present the masses for the purpose of creating divisiveness. They have other things on their minds, and that’s fine. But that’s one reason I love Genre, which has the potential to reach more readers with hard-hitting message. It’s often written by insiders, and people with extensive experience outside academia, who don’t need to avoid upsetting university superiors.

Authors who take the time to pull away layers of the deceits created by governments don’t find the same fan-base for those controversial topics in Literary Fiction as they do in Genre. There are few Literary magazines to even submit such stories to for consideration. But Political Thrillers and SF readers are more amenable to authors who take an interest in solid facts and world issues. The readers tend to be more action-based, interested in what corporations do, political intrigue, conspiracies, the direction advanced technology is taking our society, murder and mayhem, legalities, mysteries, danger. SF has the option of writing about topics that might otherwise cause the authors problems by using the future and alternate worlds as metaphors to address sensitive issues.

The real crime fiction is that created by bankers, governments, the military, and corporations, using “news” to create a false sense of reality that the majority of people are hoodwinked by. When fiction writers echo that illusion, they are — willing, or unwilling — co-conspirators in dumbing down our culture. When authors are brave enough to look beyond the naivite of the two party system, and write about what’s behind the machinations of the propaganda machine — hats off!

Some brave Thrillers:

The Deal (movie)

Lexicon by Max Barry

Dime Bomb by J. Arthur

Dark Alliance by Gary Web — movie Kill the Messenger

Some insightful SF:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The Culture by Iain M. Banks

Iron Heel by Jack London

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

Mind Control busting YA:

Control Group by Patrick Jones

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Crime Fiction

The mystery of the shining children by Cale Carlson

Morning, Come Quickly by Wanda Karriker

List of fiction about ritual abuse

YA fiction about mind control

My SF story nominated for Pushcart Prize

My SF story, “Printed People Eaters,” was chosen as the narrative from the Conspiracy themed print and e-book anthology, Redacted Story, to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This is my 6th Pushcart Prize nomination.

The great Ashley Parker Owen‘s KY Story publishing house brings Appalachian authors to print. My mother’s family homesteaded on Sand Mountain, rural northeast Alabama, and I spent a big part of my life living there, loving the land, animals, trees, relatives, down-to-earth ways. My Great Grandparents moved there after Sherman destroyed their farm in Georgia. Some of the family stayed in Georgia (and eventually gave birth to Jimmy Carter, my third cousin.) My Grandparents both died young, leaving Mama and her siblings orphaned as children, raised by their aunts and uncles, most of which remained single all their lives. I was there a year and a half recently for the end of Papa’s life, but we lost the land due to theft by a con artist, which broke my heart. It will remain in my heart. I keep a piece of my friend– one of the old oak trees that was there when it was homesteaded — by my bed.

The anthology has a 5 star rating on Amazon. I have a second story in it as well.

KY Story’s other publications’ nominations: Appalachian Voice: John Vanderslice, “Escape to Ash,” John Sparks, “Fishing with Abraham,” Tom Sheehan, “Sixty Years Later at a Mid-Earth Pub.” Motherlode: “Oren Hammerquist,” “Desert Daddy,” Treg Isaacson, “Growing Up or Not.”

KY Story is current taking submissions about Bullying for an anthology, deadline Feb. 25th 2015.