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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.