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

To a Hopeful 2016!

Happy New Years Eve,

It is the last day of 2015 and whether you’ve had a great year, a terrible one, or something betwixt the two; we all feel hope for 2016.

That’s what I wish for all of you, my imaginary friends, a 2016 filled with hope.

There’s nothing more powerful than hope combined with determination. Sometimes it hurts, but when it’s properly fulfilled it’s the greatest feeling.

It’s not easy to be hopeful, it opens you up to the pain of failure, but it makes your world a better place.

Work towards fulfilling your dreams, work towards helping others fulfil theirs. That’s what hope should be. Together we can make this crazy, messed up world a better place.

Borrowed from the New Yorker.
Borrowed from the New Yorker.

There’s a weird psychological effect that happens to people. You’re sitting there in front of your TV and miraculously have a few hours to yourself. You think, “I could watch a movie, but that’s like 2 hours…” Sometimes you watch the movie but many times you decide to watch a few episodes of a TV show. Suddenly you’ve watched 6 hours of shows.

Why does this happen? Two reasons that I can see the first is size. A show is 22 minutes or 42 minutes long. That’s nothing compared to 1.5 hours or 3 for some movies. It’s easier to do something small than commit to something large. The second has to do with familiarity, we probably know about the show and know it’s structure better than a movie.

When I tell you to work towards hope and a hopeful world. I’m not telling you to watch the Extended Edition of Lord of the Rings, I’m asking you to watch a few episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (Metaphorically… Although it is a great show)

The small gestures of hope, a kind or encouraging word, help immensely. Look for the good and don’t be afraid to feel sadness. It’s only in feeling it that we can get through it.

I’m not curing cancer by writing a fun adventure story, I’m not saving the world by making a pretty book, and I’m certainly not feeding the hungry with this blog, but if I can make one person smile, think, or see that there’s beauty in the world, then I’ve succeeded.

So, my Imaginary Friends, with 2015 at an end, I thank you for the hope you’ve brought into my life.

 

May you have a hopeful 2016,

Éric

Optimism

There’s something missing from most of the movies and books I’ve been reading lately. Optimism seems in short supply and often when people create something optimistic they are told they’re being naïve.

It is possible to be hopeful and optimistic and still know how screwed up our world is. Being optimistic isn’t ignoring the bad; it’s deciding to concentrate on the good and on finding solutions.

Maybe that’s why I like Star Trek, it shows us a future where we’ve gone beyond the major problems of our times.

It’s the reason that the new Supergirl trailer resonates with me. It has a fun optimistic point of view. She’s not a hero because of her tragic past but because she wants to help the world.

It feels like lately we, as a culture are obsessed with the Apocalypse and it would be easy to assume that we’re obsessed with the end of the world. The apocalypse isn’t normally about death but about rebirth. All genres and types of stories can be optimistic.

hhartIn the words of Hannah Hart, “Practice Reckless Optimism!”

Éric

A glimpse forward…

Her fluorescent purple hair glowed in the dying evening light. It was a warm evening, sticky with the promise of rain. She wore a low cut top showing the silhouette of a bird tattooed on her collar bone. The tattoo calmly flapped its wings, vainly attempting to escape a prison of skin and digitized ink.
The buildings shine and glimmer in vibrant colours. A backdrop for ghost images appearing in the corner of her eye. Each advertised the store, service, or persons residing inside the building.
She smiled as she passed a young man dressed in a classic white t-shirt and jeans. As he walked his information appeared next to his head. Name, age, sexual preference, relationship status, favorite quote and a silly picture.
She winked at him, it served the double purpose of “Liking” his profile, and the more traditional way of showing him the same thing. She could have chosen any eye trigger to accomplish the same digital ends, it was the intentions that counted not the interface.
Reaching home she dimmed her hair with a thought and unlocked her door in the same way.
Interfacing with the house told her that she had mail, the old fashioned kind, the oven was pre-heated, and the tofu for dinner was de-frosted. She put supper together, she added real veggies from her miniature garden and in les then ten minutes, sat down to eat.
As she sat down to eat she interfaced with her home network and streamed a home repair show. During the commercial she thought, “I wonder want the future will be like?”