Archive for June, 2010

Reading in Science Class? Terrible!

June 16, 2010

I’ve been setting up some author/class contact with a school.

One of the Year Nine English classes in the school has been using my book, They Told Me I Had To Write This, for their set text. The class teacher and I have been emailing about making contact and giving the students the opportunity to speak with the author. Today we spoke on the phone, setting up the final details.

In the course of the conversation the teacher mentioned an exchange between her and the science teacher. The science teacher was complaining that the students were reading that book they are studying for English instead of paying attention to the science lesson.

Some comments can be hard for an author to take. But not this one. Yay!

Hidden in this story is the fact that in the book, the troubled teenage main character has a memorable science lesson on soap-making. It’s a little later that he realises that soap-making is a metaphor for personal healing and wholeness. Not the average learning point from science as I remember it.

Bundy Again

June 9, 2010

OK, I’ve been struggling with the character of Bundy. Or perhaps I should say I’ve been struggling with how to get his story onto the page. So I decided I needed some inspiration. I drew him.

I regularly engage an art therapist to run sessions with my clients. I sit in on them because they allow me some personal exploration that I value. Sometimes I take my cues from the meditation that the therapist leads, other times I follow my own plan. This time I decided to draw Bundy.

It’s ironic that the goal of the art sessions is for my clients to find the more positive things of the life that are so often hidden within, but my goal on this occasion was to explore how evil effects a person. Here is the drawing. It’s in soft pastel crayon, which is very nice to smudge around the page.

Bundy the firesetter

Dealing with Evil in Literature

June 7, 2010

I’m writing my next novel and am having trouble. The new work takes one of the darker characters from my previous novel and tells his story. It’s not a nice tale.

There is a missing child, evidence that gets half destroyed, half hidden, nobody knows the whole truth, only one person can put it all together. The trouble is, getting to the place where he can do that takes him deep into places he most fears.

We met the character, Bundy, in They Told Me I Had To Write This. Bundy is a bully and a firesetter. But he wasn’t always like that. He had to start from somewhere, and he started from a good place. So how does a nice little kid grow into a Bundy?

Well, it happens through a process of the experience of evil. And that brings me to the title of this blog post.

What is it? Evil, I mean. What is evil? Where does it come from? How do we manufacture it, or amplify it, or acquiesce in it, or manage it?

Does it exist in its own right? Is it endemic in human experience? Can we say that earthquakes or tornadoes are evil?

Is there anything to learn from Star Wars on this topic? Does the Dark Side add anything to our understanding of evil? It has captured the imagination of a vast number of people, but does it reflect reality?

I have a writer friend who describes evil as a parasite. It can only exist with a host and the host is ‘Good’. Good can exist by itself, but evil can only exist by sucking its sustenance from Good.

Ursula Le Guin wrote ‘The Wizard of Earthsea’ many years ago. It deals with Ged, a boy who is recognised to have unusual powers and he is sent to wizard school. (This book is nothing like Harry Potter, by the way.) Very soon he is in conflict with another student and in a contest of power he evokes a black shadowy monster from deep under the earth. He spends the rest of the story firstly running from it, then pursuing it to destroy it. In the final encounter he faces the monster and before it can speak he names it with his own name, gaining mastery over it. By the time of this final encounter he has learned the humility that would have prevented the original event from ever having happened.

So, is evil something that lives in each of us and needs to be named if it is to be tamed?

Somewhere in among all this is the path that Bundy follows. If only I could figure it out as easily as I can put these thoughts together.