Hello, Matt Hales here.
I’m supposed to be writing about myself and it’s a situation where there isn’t all that much to say and simultaneously just way too much to fit into a comfortable space. Dr. Who likes to say that people are bigger on the inside and that’s true. Whatever two dimensional cardboard cutout you have propped up in your mind regarding the rude teenager at McDonald’s or the person who cut you off in traffic, you are wrong.
It’s okay (I guess?) because we all do this. We compartmentalize and categorize because we all need to make sense of a world that often makes no sense at all.
I used to say (and thought I was pretty clever) that I was only as deep as a mirror and that all the depth was an illusion. And just like the cardboard cutouts, it was a lie.
Everything happens for a reason. There is a root cause for all behavior, even if we do not understand it. The serial killer kills for a purpose that is, perhaps, too alien to be fully understood and maybe that is for the best. But somewhere in their past was an inciting event, the little shove that started the pebble rolling down the mountainside preceding the avalanche that kills so, so many below.
I couldn’t begin to guess at my inciting incident.
No, I’m not a serial killer—not in this reality, at least. Instead I’m a serial creator. I’m interested in the way things fit together and how they might be made to do so in a different way. Not content with the two basic forms of my Transformers, each of my favorites had so many alternate, interesting configurations that, in my imagination, were each one a potent combat boost. I’m the kid who noticed that if you hold the toy upside down it looks like a different sort of creature and suddenly the action figure becomes a shape-shifter.
I have always just looked at things slightly differently. When I was very young, I am told (for I have no recollection of the event), I wanted to see what pepper looked like as it exited the shaker and so I shook it directly towards my own face. Turns out it looked like pain.
I don’t stare into the middle distance as often now, but getting lost within my own mind was just how I rolled. I was fully capable of entertaining myself with a couple of toys, telling my own stories. Like the people on the Saturday morning cartoons, my figures had funny voices and simple motivations: good vs. evil, save the town, rescue the girl.
Those motivations have not really changed, either in the entertainment of the Western world or in my own stories. In my stories, however, good does not always win, the town is not always saved, and it is neither always a girl in need of rescue nor is such a mission always a success. Like the cardboard and the mirror, to say that everything will always be okay and everyone lives happily ever after is a lie, too.
As a fiction writer, of course, I’m a professional liar. I have to lie so very well that I not only make you believe these people exist, but make you care about them, too. You may hate them or love them, that’s your prerogative, but it’s my job to make you believe.
I hope you’ll choose to spend a bit of time with me, and let me lie to you.