But I take great pleasure in putting my characters in circumstances in which they suffer. And they do suffer – physically, emotionally, and mentally from injuries that often are cruel and sometimes are bizarre.
This apparent contradiction really is no contradiction at all. In fiction, after all, pain isn’t real. It goes away the moment we close the covers of a book. Or if the book is very good, it may linger in our imaginations but as a secondary, not a primary, thing. Maybe more importantly, fictional pain – even in the stories that include the most evil characters in the most nihilistic of universes – is ordered according to the logic of fiction. Within this logic, the story has a beginning before which the pain didn’t exist and an end after which the pain won’t exist (except as it lingers). And within this logic, good usually prevails and extinguish the pain or at least the source of the pain.
For me, writing about pain is at once a means of facing it and a means of avoiding it. Fictional pain contains and controls something that in reality cannot be either contained or – in spite of your best meds and mine – controlled. Real pain is inevitable. Fictional pain may seem inevitable, but is not.
So, I love pain. Just don’t make it real.