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The Lie That Tells The Truth

“If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em.”
-John Waters


I’ve always been a fan of stories. Everything from Mexican crime fiction to Italian sci-fi, Literature with a big L, or even just Big L. If the author can entertain me with their characters, or some language that has a bit of style and funk, I’m all in. Plus they are important. They can change our way of thinking. There’s a lot of science out there that shows how we use narratives to understand the world. Everything from caveman paintings to commercials are designed to tell a story.

As someone more eloquent than myself once said: “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
If you read a certain amount, then after a while you should be able to put words of your own together. At least that was what I told myself when I got out of school and jumped straight into journalism.

Ten years later and it’s worked out so far. My day job keeps enough steaks in the freezer, and it has also helped me travel the world. I’ve been screamed at in Texas and eaten duck tongue in China, and bills have always got paid.
But I wasn’t telling stories. At least not the ones I wanted to. So while Clark Kent is doing okay, whatever happened to the Man Of Tomorrow?

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Well he’s been writing on the side, sneaking in the hours and the pages where possible and slowly getting better at it. There have been some short stories published and a few comic book scripts that weren’t. A terrible 400-page manuscript that got sharpened down into a pretty good 130-page book that I put out myself.
The thing is, writing can be a lonely pursuit. I’m not talking about the time you need to sit down and create – that part is a luxury for anyone that has to hold down a job. No, the worst thing is that you can spend months or even years working on something that nobody reads.

So the self-publishing route has got me (reluctantly) onto Twitter. It’s all part of the game, but I would rather be perfecting my skills. There’s no shortage of people telling you how to get more followers, or how to promote your stuff on social media and sell more copies, but not so much gets said about how to be a better writer anymore.
But if the alternative is to be screaming (or writing) into the void with an audience of zero, then yeah I will jump in the mentions.

And aside from all the bullshit, there are always important conversations happening on the internets. It’s also how I discovered FanBros. It was the Junot Diaz episode that got me hooked (though I was already familiar with the name through Combat Jack). The guy has always been one of my favorite writers, and he said something on the podcast that has stuck with me ever since.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it was to the effect that none of the make believe stories of Dune, Star Wars or X-Men make any sense without the context of the real – slavery, colonialism or the civil rights movement. That’s where they get their power. Again, it’s all about the lie of fiction that helps reveal the truth.

The podcast also put me onto Bitch Planet and sent me down the rabbit hole of Image Comics for the last few years. We are possibly living in another Golden Age of Comics right now: the way a lot of their newer titles are revolutionizing the form seems a lot like what The Sopranos and The Wire did for television during their runs. It has even got Marvel to raise their game lately with stuff like Darth Vader and Black Panther.

So when the opportunity came to start writing for FanBros, I grabbed it with both hands. This was a conversation that I wanted to be a part of. It’s an exciting time. What used to be geek culture is now very much in the mainstream. Is it an invasion or has it been co-opted? Has science-fiction moved towards reality, or are we living in dystopian times? The jury is still out on all of this.
I’m still at the day job, still reading as much as I can, still working on my own fiction (a big-ass Asian/afrofuturistic novel about political corruption, crime and espionage that’s set in low orbit around Mars) and still getting to grips with Twitter.
I’ve also got a favorite Wesley Snipes film, and hell no it ain’t Rising Sun.

 

Be sure to follow our newest writer on Twitter(@heyThomasTrang) and follow us at @FanBrosShow