So… Really?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

So it’s the year 2022… Year three of the pandemic… It’s starting to feel like this is the year that our government and society give up on caring.

That might sound melodramatic, but as of Wednesday January 20th, Ontario has seen 10,801 deaths (According to Ontario Public Health). If you compare the deaths between the 31st of December and the 20th of January there’s a difference of 595. That means in the past 19 days Ontario is averaging 31 deaths a day. If the trend continues, we’re looking at probably doubling the deaths this year.

Yet despite rising hospital admissions and deaths, the government has sent unvaccinated 4 year olds back to school and is reopening indoor dining. It’s hard to believe this government cares about those of us who are considered high risk. (Babies, Kids, Immunocompromised, Fat, etc.)

I understand that I’m an extremist in my belief that human life is more important than money, economy, or other such things. I truly wish our government would do radical things like significantly increase spending on healthcare and education.

January is a hard month for me and for a lot of other people. So it’s hard to be hopeful right now.

My wife and I are extremely lucky and I thank the fates everyday for the privilege and advantages we have been given. I’m still sad for those that aren’t as lucky.

We will get through this and I hope that it’ll be with minimal loss of life and even less long term trauma.

Stay safe and be kind.

As they say in Everdome, “May your fractured nights be followed by glorious dawns.”

Éric

Life Moves Pretty Fast (Sometimes)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last Monday, I complained about not being able to get my appointment for a Covid vaccine. I managed to get an appointment for end of June on Tuesday and then Thursday, as I was grocery shopping, I got a notification from the PC Health app that I could get one on Saturday.

So I went from thinking I’d never get one to being worried about getting one to getting one in less than a week. So one shot out of two. I guess we’re 1/8th of the way there for the family. Hopefully by Christmas we’ll be 6/8th.

Book stuff

Great news. Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers, book one in The Gates of Westmeath series, has been submitted to my publisher. We should hear within 3 or so months if they’ll publish it. If they don’t, we’ll start submitting to agents and other publishers. We can worry about that later.

I’m slowly writing Elizabeth 4 and have re-written the outline and hopefully it’ll be finished this decade. Planning for book two of The Gates of Westmeath, Gangs! Incidental Wedding Guests, is well underway. Writing will start end of summer/early fall.

The short story collection is over 80,000 words and I still have 2-4 stories to write. Jen’s been prolific in her short story writing. The collection is called Stories! The Unexpected First Collection.

Like I mentioned on Friday, this coming Saturday is the cover reveal for my newest book, Stories Between the ‘Verses. Come check it out on Saturday! There will be prizes and readings.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Long Haul

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Trump said something about having everything open by Easter. Even before that, people were talking about returning to normal.

I heard about the Virus in the end of January while on vacation at Disney. I’m ashamed to say that I thought people were overreacting. Then I got sick.

Baby Pegasus got something at the end of our trip to Florida and then sneezed into my mouth. Yum. I’m not sure if it was the virus or another Covid that’s flying around there, but it matched all the symptoms. Who knows. Either way, it was the worst sickness I’ve had outside of severe food poisoning.

By the end of February, I was starting to get worried. By the time the lockdowns started, I realized this was going to be a while.

Every week, news sources are talking about when things will go back to normal. People who saw the horrifying inequality in our society want us to do better then normal.

I’m convinced this will be a long haul. This will become our normal for a while. I’m hoping that by Christmas we will have a viable cure or vaccine. But I don’t expect the threat to go away until the end of 2020.

Now just because the Virus is still around, doesn’t mean that those who have their own best interest in mind aren’t going to push to reopen society. We will see those that believe humans are a commodity pushing for a return to capitalist normal.

We will see things normalized that should horrify us before this is over. Governments will push too far, corporations will push eugenics, or immunity cards, and worst, our friends and neighbours will start to believe the arguments.

My greatest fear is going to be having to choose between the health of my family, friends, and myself, over having to go back to work. I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that.

Now let me be positive. At least in the short term this will mean a greater respect for those that are working hard everyday. Those that work at grocery stores, hospitals, restaurants, sanitation, and all the other essentials services.

In the long run, I expect better respect for the importance of health care and minimum wage. The need to make internet an essential and affordable service and the need for being prepared for this in the future. I also really hope we see the quick death of the anti-vaccine movement.

 Uncertain future. Illustration: Chris Riddell

We have lived through 3 major viral pandemics in the past twenty years (5 if you count Ebola and HIV); this is going to happen again. If we’re lucky, it’ll be a strain of something we have a vaccine for and can adapt fast but I predict this isn’t the last major shutdown of our times.

In these darker times, it’s important for us to remember three things:

  1. All life has value; no one should be defined by the amount of money they can make for others.
  2. Don’t give in to hate.
  3. Life will change after this and it’s up to us to make sure it’s for the better.

Stay home, wash your hands, and be kind to one another.

Éric

Teen Detectives

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have loved Teen Detective books and movies since I first read Haunted Island by Joan Lowery Nixon and the BSC Mysteries. Even now I can’t get enough of them.

My wife has introduced me to Trixie Belden and I’ve loved the first few books.

I love the fearless and curious nature of these types of characters. I also love the way their victories are fuelled by their innate sense of right and wrong.

My love for these sorts of characters is a big influence on my writing. (Shocking huh?) From Elizabeth, Hal, Rachel and all the way back to Seren, my favourite characters are smart, curious, and dedicated to what they think is right.

Even in their arrogance and intellect these characters are innately hopeful. Solving a mystery means getting to a conclusion, discovering the truth, and often bringing to justice those responsible. It’s cathartic and wonderful in a world that has so many hopeless feeling situations.

And now for a confession. I’ve never read Nancy Drew. It’s on my list for this year; at the very least I should read the first one and see what I think.

Later Days,

Éric

Dear Dragon – Monsters

Hi Dragon,

Watching the news today, I held you tight and warned you about the monsters. They don’t have bolts in their neck, and they don’t get burned by sunlight. They look like us and walk around in daylight, but they exist.

This will be history for you when you read this, but one of those monsters shot at innocent people in a place of worship yesterday. He killed six innocent people and hurt a lot of others. His actions are inexcusable and monstrous.

That’s the difference, my little Dragon, between fictional monsters and real ones. Fictional monsters do terrible things because it’s in their nature, or they were made that way; real monsters make themselves from their actions.

Of course, there are other factors that help create real monsters. Hate, fear, intolerance, and anger help feed them, but in the end, it’s their actions that make them monsters. This means we are all capable of being monsters.

There are ways to help prevent monsters and they are so simple they seem silly. These ways are simply to keep love in your heart and share it with others. Treat people with respect, even when they don’t deserve it, help your neighbour, and be the kind of person who helps others.

Help, not through grand gestures, but through small acts of kindness. The small acts add up to bigger ones. We are all capable of being monsters, but that means we are also capable of being the opposite; Helpers.

It may be optimistic and it may be naïve, but I believe we can all make the world a better place by helping more.

Be a Helper and, as always, have hope!

I love you so much my little Dragon,

Your Papa

A Letter to President Elect Donald Trump and His Followers

Congratulations on your win.

Now that you’ve managed to win the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Presidency, you have four years of power to shape your country into the place you’ve always wanted.

President Elect Trump said a lot of things on the campaign trail that were a little extreme. It’s an election, things happen, candidates get excited and things are said.

You now have a choice; you can double down on the hate or you can make America great again. You need to be an example, because whether you like it or not, you’re a beacon that all other countries look towards.

Make America great again, make it the land of the free, the land of opportunity, and the land of hope. Rebuild your crumbling infrastructure, your roads, dams, monuments, water systems; they all need desperate attention.

Don’t “Make” America great again, “Build” it back to greatness. That means more than just a frivolous wall. That means building your cities, your economy, and your people.

The LGBTQ+ community, the POC community, and the women are terrified that the hateful and downright monstrous things that were said during the campaign will lead to legislation, violence, and hate towards them. With good reason, as it’s already happened.

Change it Mr. Trump. You’re the President Elect now, it’s your responsibility to build up your people. ALL your people. The way you act over the next four years will decide if history call you a monster, a clown, or a decent President. It’s your choice.

To everyone who didn’t vote for Trump and who are terrified and/or angry; it’s okay to feel frustrated, it’s okay to be sad, those are natural reactions. Once you’re ready to come out of your grief, you’ll have the hardest job possible. You’ll have to show the other side that it’s possible to work with them despite disagreeing. It’s not fair, but you’ll have the be the ones to be better.

America and President Elect Trump, the world is watching. Be the best you possibly can and show us that there is more to your presidency than fear and hate.

Good luck!

Éric

Dear Dragon – The World Today

Hello Dragon,

I hope you’re afraid of monsters under your bed, boogeymen, or (like your grandmother) of Freddy Kruger. It’s not that I want you to be afraid but that I want you to only have fictional things to scare you.

I hope you never feel the fear of going out to a public place, or going to school.

I hope you never fear for your life walking down the street or traveling to other countries.

The world right now is on the cusp of something. I’m not sure what it is yet. Optimistically it’s the movement towards a united and peaceful world. Pessimistically it’s the movement towards another great terrible war or series of wars.

Weekly in the news, we hear about bombings. Sometimes more than one a week. In the UK they just voted to leave the European Union. Some for economic reasons but mostly for racist reasons; and hate crimes have risen to historic highs. In the US, the argument of politics seems to be more about skin colour and genitals than actual policies.

All over the world people are afraid. Afraid for their lives, afraid of others, afraid for our world.

The earth isn’t dying. People will tell you we’re destroying it. They’re wrong, we’re making it uninhabitable for ourselves. Just another thing to fear. Some people deal with that fear by trying to change things, others by ignoring it.

“I would never bring a child into this world, why would you?”

Someone asked me how I could think of bringing children into such a broken world. My answer to them was simply, “Hope.”

You, Baby Dragon, represent hope to me; a hope that you will have a wonderful life that you will see a world free from hate and fear, that you’ll help make that world.

And the truth is it’s not all doom and gloom. The Ozone Layer has started to heal, infant mortality is at its lowest in history, life spans are longer, more people can read, food production is more efficient than ever. Every day we as a species invent, discover, and create something amazing.

 

The world we’re bringing you into isn’t perfect, far from it, but it has hope and that’s worth a lot.

I love you, Baby Dragon!

Your Loving Papa

I want Entertainment and Hope; Or Why I Gave Up on Daredevil

Dear Grimdark Entertainment,

Everyone tells me you’re fantastic. My friends rave about you, they obsess about you, and their eyes grow wide in surprise that a giant geek like me doesn’t watch you.

I’ve told them it’s not my thing, I’ve told them it doesn’t interest me, and eventually I’ll lie and say it’s too violent, I don’t like zombies, I hate the actor, or whatever will get them to shut up.

Dear Daredevil

You’ve enchanted the world, brought mobsters, zombies, fantasy, cops, superheroes, mystery, and countless other things into the public mind. You’ve touched our culture in a way that people everywhere have an idea who your protagonists are. The older among you have influenced your genres in ground breaking ways. Where would character dramas with an overarching story be without The Sopranos? What would the colour palette and story structure of Science Fiction be without Battlestar Galactica?

I appreciate your writing, your story structure, and your fantastic dialogue. Daredevil has some of the most thought provoking themes about what it means to kill and about being a Hero.

Despite your awesomeness, I can’t do it anymore. I’m sorry but I can’t do it anymore. It’s not you, it’s me.

Behind your edginess, your clever writing, and your amazing dialogue, you have a constant message. “Life Sucks!” “Everyone you love will die!” “Feel the Pain!”

Award winning and popular entertainment seems to have lost its sense of humour and its sense of hope. Even television shows that should be funny beyond belief to counteract their subject matter, like American Horror story, fail.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried for years to love you. I’ve forced myself to read and watch you. I just can’t do it.

I want fun. I want Hope. I want cheesy one-liners. I want sappy moments. I want friendships that last. I want love that burns beautifully. I want awkward people. I want characters that care about their friends.

In short, I want to enjoy my entertainment.

This doesn’t mean I’m against character death, sadness, or trauma. It just means I don’t want those to be your main emphasis.

Robert J. Sawyer is a master of making a book hurt me deeply but still be wildly entertaining. Frameshift was both sad and beautiful. It was hopeful, entertaining, and still makes me want to cry.

Joss Whedon’s Doctor Horrible is a wonderful Supervillain romp with singing and laughs aplenty but it doesn’t shy away from asking the important questions about killing and nature of evil.

The Final Girls examines the guilt and trauma of losing someone you love. It has a character that is borderline suicidal and blames herself for the death of her mother. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen with one of the most entertaining premises.

Hope and deep character drama shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

So I’m sorry Daredevil, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, The Shield, The Expanse, Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, The Sopranos, Punisher, Gotham, True Blood, and countless others.

I just can’t be with you. I hope you find an audience that loves you.

I’ll just be over here reading, watching, or writing something that makes me feel more than just sad, broken, and hopeless.

Your ex-consumer,

Éric

P.S. Rape and torture aren’t fun. They aren’t necessary, they’re not something I want to experience (even second hand), and they certainly aren’t funny.

Dear Dragon – I’m Sorry

Hello Dragon,

You’re half way here. Right now you’re swimming around in your mother as if you were a fish. I can’t feel you move yet, but she does, and it somehow makes you more real.

Dragon19-weeks02

We found out that you’re going to be a girl. At least, your sex designation at birth will be girl.

I have never doubted that I wanted to have you; even when you were a small probability in the far future. I always wanted you. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worried about bringing you into this world.

We (humans) as a race are capable of such horrible things. I will tell you it’s because of fear, insecurity, or sickness, but sometimes it just seems inexplicable. Nothing in all of history has killed more humans than humans themselves. When we don’t attack each other physically, we do it with our minds and words. The world is filled with people who want to make themselves feel better by bringing someone down.

I’m sorry for everything you will have to go through because of other people. Every parent wants to protect their child and hopes these things won’t happen.

There is good in this world though. There is beauty. (and ice cream!) For every terrible thing in this world that humans have created, there is something beautiful. They don’t balance themselves out, but the beauty can help. Music, art, literature, architecture, and science can help you recover. Life is not easy and as a girl it’ll be a little harder.

There are two things I want you to remember. The first is that there’s always hope, as long and you can find the beauty in the world. I will never have to look far for it, as long as I have you and your mother. You are my hope.

The second thing I want you to remember is something I will repeat over and over. Your mother and I love you and we’ll always be there for you when you need it. Life isn’t always fair, humans aren’t always kind, and you will have terrible days; but we will ALWAYS be there for you; even if it’s only in these letters.

Enjoy swimming around and try to stop kicking that nerve that makes your mother uncomfortable.

I love you, Baby Dragon,

Your worried Father