If you haven’t yet caught Aric Davis, then you have missed a treat.
You can check out a couple of my reviews of his books here:
And, I’m really pleased and honoured that Aric has taken the time to write this exclusive piece about his writing for Books and Writers – many thanks, Aric, you’re a gent.
I have no way of knowing exactly how many authors found their inner-muse because of Mr. King’s brilliant little guide, but I can say for certain that this one would never have been published had that book not seen the light of day.
It may seem odd to attach such a tremendous debt to a man I’ve never met, but I’m serious in saying that if it weren’t for my editor, Terry, and the work of Mr. King, I would never have become a published author. Because of this influence, I find two common themes in my writing. There is the more obvious one which is influenced by Mr. King: storylines and characters that jump from novel to novel, but there is another more secretive one as well. That narrative finds its soul in the work of another phenomenal author, Andrew Vachss. Just like the aforementioned Mr. King, Andrew Vachss and his incredible Burke series need no further introduction. That said, if you like noir and have missed out on Burke, get your butt to Amazon and order “Flood.” Don’t worry, the rest of us can wait.
In any case, one of the most important themes in the Burke books is that family has nothing to do with blood. Even though I grew up comfortably in a family with two well-adjusted parents who have yet to divorce, that idea caught me in the guts like a hook to the liver. It was such a pure message, and such a well-meaning one.
At the risk of alienating some potential readers-and to be perfectly honest, in this case I don’t give a shit if I do-there is nothing that bothers me more than someone trying to decide for someone else what the word, “family” means. Family can be the bond between an adopted African child and her European parents, it can be the relationship between two homosexual men in an American red state, and it could be a football team that still meets every year to celebrate a championship victory from fifty years prior. The bond is what matters, not the way it is defined by a stranger. It’s a theme and a torch that I’m proud to help carry, though there are people with far more on the line than myself carrying this idea in a much more dangerous manner. After all, I’m a white male who was born in one of the world’s most privileged countries, so it’s easy for me to champion the rights of those who must fight a judgmental public every day of their lives. But it’s still something I believe in strongly.
This perspective was what formed the nucleus of my new novel, “Rough Men.” I don’t want to give too much away, but some of the familial bonds revealed in “Rough Men” aren’t as they appear at face value. In the end it doesn’t matter. Family is family, whether from blood, marriage, or acquired by other means. I have no right to tell a stranger what defines a consensual relationship or not. This, more than anything else, is the root of my intention when writing about this stuff, from the love between my doomed characters in “A Good and Useful Hurt,” to the strange bond between Nickel of “Nickel Plated” and his father, the mystery man who trains his illegally adopted son how to be a monster with a conscience.
Even in my first novel, the self-published and poorly edited “From Ashes Rise,” the meat of the story is about violence, but the undercurrent is about the bonds forged between men, and with their estranged families, during a time of war.
I don’t know if my writing will ever change any minds, and I’m ok with that. A success to me would be if in some small way my work was a reminder for us to remain vigilant towards those who stand against the basic rights of humanity. It is very easy right now to affiliate oneself with one political party or another, or to judge someone else based solely on what you don’t understand about them.
I try to let my writing draw on familiar themes, be they crime, horror, or love, but let non-traditional elements play within, and I love that I have a platform to share them with my readers.
You guys are the best!