AJ Reid

Notes from the Paradise Peninsula

Tag: psychology

Who is Dianne Doyle?

I used to work in a department store where there was a manager who ruled with something of a manicured iron fist.  She actually used to get kicks out of reprimanding staff and subverting their relationships, which she would achieve in very subtle ways.  She was a maestro of negativity, conducting us like an orchestra and luring us into making mistakes, just so that she could make a show of whichever poor wretch was on her hitlist that day.

She wasn’t without charm, though, which is why I thought that she would make a great villain.  The longer I worked there, the more rumours I heard and the more I saw with my own eyes, the more intriguing she became.  She used the workplace hierarchy and corporate targets for her own ends, none of which were actually concerned with profit margins.

This, and certain other experiences led me to study psychology in a bid to demystify the motives in any kind of cruelty, whereupon I learnt about psychopathy and its causes/effects.  When writing A Smaller Hell, I took an example of a philanthropist in Joseph Williamson, who built the famous tunnels in Liverpool, and summoned him in the founder of the department store: Commander Clarence Tanner.  The idea was to have Dianne Doyle be a personification of slick and shiny corporate psychopathy in contrast to Tanner’s long-standing philosophy of providing work for the families of the town, giving to charity and generally keeping a fire burning for the community to rally round.

I don’t like the fact that business has become all-consuming and all-important.  It’s made me uncomfortable for a long time and the more I learn about the skulduggery that underpins the corporate world, the more I become convinced that my fears are well-founded.  I find it vulgar – even creepy – when people say “it’s good for the economy” about some morally-dubious initiative that our politicians are undertaking, as if the economy is some kind of god or idol that we should all kneel and worship, even at the expense of our own humanity.

Dianne Doyle is the face that I’ve given to those fears.  She is everything that’s dangerous about money and sex.  She’s also the mischievous authoritarian and cruel hedonist, whose greatest act of manipulation and deception is charted in A Smaller Hell and unfolds to reveal that “the Devil can sometimes do a very gentlemanly thing”, as Robert Louis Stevenson said.

 

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Grey Noise: Rock and Roll can be Murder

Now available on Amazon:

What happens when a disturbed sound engineer snaps?

Patrick McDonagh is a Liverpool sound tech who truly understands the old saying that “silence is golden”. Highly-skilled behind a mixing desk, but undervalued due to his lack of charisma and social graces, he remains forever on the fringes of the music industry, picking up whatever crumbs he can to look after his mother in their terraced house by the docks. What most people don’t know about Patrick is that alongside the guitars, drums, bass and vocals, there has always been the mysterious grey noise and fortunately for everyone in his little black book, he’s always been able to ignore it … Until now.

As he decides whether to exact his well-deserved vengeance upon the lead singer of Summer Seems So Far, the grey noise builds to a crescendo, inciting deadly violence and macabre scenes at their wildest gig yet. Find out whether Patrick survives his jaunt through the Glasgow underworld to fulfil his dark agenda in this rock and roll horror story, written by the author of A Smaller Hell.

Only $0.99.

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The Horseman’s Dream Update

It’s only taken me eight years of drafts, scraps and rewrites to get to this point.  Since I was (and still am) no scientist, I read psychology books and articles daily during those years for the sole purpose of writing The Horseman’s Dream.  I studied other fields of science, met with psychologists, military veterans and brushed up on my theology, or divinity, as we used to call it when I were a lad.  I’ve even visited abandoned Victorian lunatic asylums in the dead of night on the Welsh moors and consulted with staff at the notorious Ashworth Hospital.  Over the years, researching this book has led me to a cup of coffee with the local vicar; chicken, greens and cornbread with a preacher from Mississippi; beer with a Zionist and lasagne with an evangelist from Birkenhead, amongst others.  It’s been an obsession by most psychological standards.  I remember how it started: sitting in a garage, waiting for my car to be MOT’d and the only reading material provided was Heat magazine and the Holy Bible.  The juxtaposition of the two texts right there on the coffee table set a few wheels in motion concerning doctrine, escapism, existence and control.  I scribbled as much down as I could while I was waiting, paid my bill, then drove home to resume scribbling.  The idea was so absurdly complicated that it’s taken me this long to unravel it into a story, rather than a rant.
Writing Third Person Multiple POV hurts my brain, but it’s the only way to tell this one.  Summoning each character makes it obvious why many successful actors also write: it’s an extension of what they have already practised and honed for years.  Imagining how a completely different personality would respond in any given situation whilst retaining authenticity is a dark art indeed, but what fun.  Apart from the needs of the story, the Third Person Multiple ties in with the psychological/sociological subject matter of the book: the broadcasting of the contents of peoples’ minds for entertainment and propaganda purposes.  Alternate reality entertainment, if you like.  At least, that’s the kind of pretentious tagline that Grosvenor Media favour when advertising Totem.  I hope to include some equally pretentious tagline for the book at some point to complete the oh-so-meta meta-ness, dahling.  So far the best I can do is “live the dream” – horribly unoriginal, but then that’s the point: that the benign creations of brilliant minds are often used for banal – or even evil – ends.  The TV was an amazing invention, as was the internet.  You may have noticed my use of past tense there.  I used it because they have been hijacked, restricted, censored and controlled to suit the demands of very wealthy corporations and individuals even now in 2015.  It begs the question of who provides our reality and just how far our illusions go.  What would you do if faced with the truth behind the veil?  Would you beg for the illusion to resume or would you revel in your freedom from it?

Horseman's Dream Logo-Recovered

In more news, I’ve started working with some very talented photographers, painters and other visual artists, who are going to help to bring the world of The Horseman’s Dream to life in images and video.  I will be posting their work here on ajreid.org over the next few months in the run-up to the launch of The Horseman’s Dream later this year, and I am most grateful to them for their collaboration on this project.  Any photographers or other visual artists who would like more details should contact me at thehorsemansdream@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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