Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Redemption Song

by Chris F. Holm

Given that my Collector series is centered around a decent man condemned to hell for sins committed in the service of saving his dying wife, it should surprise you not a whit when I tell you I consider redemption to be one of the major themes in my writing. The funny thing is, it surprised me plenty, because like all good (read: not preachy or ham-fisted, two bars I hope to God I've cleared) themes, I didn't put it there on purpose. I just told the story I wanted to tell, and again and again, there it was.

In fact, looking over the twenty-odd short stories I've written in my career, it seems the twin themes of consensus "good" people doing bad things and consensus "bad" people doing good ones are pretty much my whole damn bag o' tricks.

I think the reason I find such situations fascinating is because, as Hilary mentioned in her post, much as we'd like there's a clean divide between good guys and bad guys, the world just isn't wired that way, nor are the people who live in it. As my protagonist's handler, the not-entirely-Girl-Scouty Lilith, says to him: 
"Oh, Collector, when are you going to learn? For all of your moralistic hand-wringing – about your role in this world, your perceptions of my actions, or the origins of your precious Maker – existence is not as simple as all that. There are no good guys, no bad guys – just a giant fucking mess, and a bunch of damaged beings trying to muddle through as best as they can... We're each of us nothing but frauds and liars. I mean, look at you! You fancy yourself a decent man, but if that's the case, then how did you wind up here? How did any of us?"
Lately, I've been preoccupied with the question of how dark a character can be, and yet still be redeemable in the audience's eyes. In fact, I daresay that's the accidental theme of the third Collector book, THE BIG REAP, which (knock wood) I'm a couple weeks away from finishing. Oh, and speaking of, it has a pretty, pretty cover already: you can see it here, and read a brief interview with me besides.

Now, since the topic at hand has had me humming this tune all day, I leave you with some thoughts on redemption from the inimitable Bob Marley:

And, since the holidays are soon upon us, may your days be safe and merry, however you choose to spend them. It's been a pleasure hanging out with you these past ten months, and I look forward to doing so for many more to come. Catch you all next year. Until then, be well, and may your nog be appropriately eggy or whatever.


Reece said...

Awesome cover for THE BIG REAP, Chris! Those angry robots do fine work.

Chris said...

Thanks, Reece! I may be biased, but I think so, too. Now, of course, all that's left is to finish writing the thing...