The problem is that over the years I’ve written many similar short stories, accounts of random incidents from my past concerning people who have wronged me in one way or another. I’ve even published a collection of about a dozen of those stories.
But I’ve gone further than that by publishing whole novels as acts of revenge. The Burrymen War takes a huge swipe at the bigotry that once pervaded the little town I was brought up in. The Percentages Men aims to expose the greed, jealousy and stupidity that destroyed a business I once helped to run. And I’ve been in the process of serialising on my website a novel about the recovery of a large sum of money that is owed to my late wife; appropriately, the latter novel is called The Debt. Sadly, as is the case in my short stories, the fictional “baddies” in all three novels are all too thinly disguised real people.
Looking back at this growing body of revenge work, I’ve been asking myself some searching questions. Do all these stories and books simply mean that I’m carrying a huge chip on my shoulder? Am I the only person in the world who has been bullied, walked over, stolen from and ultimately put in hospital? Or am I the only person in the world who is brave enough – or foolish enough – to write about the misdeeds of others as a means of settling old scores?
Whatever the answers to those questions, one thing is clear – writing for revenge is therapeutic. But it also has a major drawback – as the aforementioned incident has attested, the writer is open to retaliation. And I’m becoming more and more jittery about that.
Now, I did stop off from the revenge work not too long ago to pen something nice with much help from my siblings. Called The Rebel’s Daughter, my latest book is a tribute to our ould Irish mother, which I really enjoyed writing.
So that’s what I’ve decided to do from now on – to write nice books. To use Amazon’s parlance, I’ve “retired” that collection of nasty stories and those two revenge novels. I’ve also suspended my serialisation of The Debt. And I’m now thinking about my next nice book. One involving fluffy animals, maybe. How about a Scottish take on Watership Down? With rats instead of rabbits. Naw, I’ve already done that in The Island of Whispers. But I could do a sequel, I suppose. The “baddy” characters in it could be based on people I don’t like. What about Growler, who constantly complains about the hardships it has faced despite its privileged upbringing? Or The Mooth, who is forever bellowing meaningless rubbish? Or Perky, who thinks it’s a comic, but is actually the unfunniest character in the pack? And then there’s Mayhem, so called because of its habit of blundering through the lair with its snout in the air and–
Stop! See what I’m doing there? I just cannae help myself.