Walking out of that doctor's office and receiving those diagnoses back in July made me rethink everything about myself. And I was expected to start up the semester only a few weeks later, with an officer position in two fraternities, an internship, 18 credit hours, AND managing a writing career?
All aboard the Nope Train to Screw-that-ville.
I had first pitched ALPHA--and was offered a contract for it--in the fall of 2014, the same time I received a contract for Gears. I got the idea from watching documentaries on YouTube and Netflix about MKULTRA and the Cold War. I knew there were plenty of books and movies that dealt with the victims of these experiments, like Manchurian Candidate and the Bourne saga (okay, so that wasn't MKULTRA, but it was still in the same vein). But what about the agents who were a part of it, the ones who actually committed the atrocities? Did they have even a shred of remorse? I was eager to explore that side of history.
What I didn't know was the can of worms it would open.
Obviously, if you're going to write a political novel, you're going to have to immerse yourself in political culture. Not being so far along in my recovery, I had no idea that this would serve as a trigger for my mania. I found that the more I talked about politics, and the closer the issue was to my heart, the angrier I got. I was--I am--a political Hulk, ready to smash at the drop of a hat the second I heard racial slurs, the second I saw maltreatment of people who were underdogs. Not only were they the victims of MKULTRA's experiments, but they are victims even today: racial profiling, abuse. Hell, Donald Trump recently called for a ban on all Muslims. And then the people in power, the ones who receive untold amounts of power and privilege, want to complain that they are being lashed out against? Hell no.
My thoughts, my feelings began to stew inside me, turning into bile. And living in the Bible Belt with a conservative family (and attending a college in the home county of a certain county clerk), there aren't many people I can really vent to. So I turn to the page to release my anger. In a way, ALPHA has become much more than a spy novel. It's a story about the underdog, a cry on behalf of those who cannot cry out for themselves for fear of judgment.
I like to say that ALPHA is a story of loyalty. What does it mean to be loyal to your country, your family, yourself? Howard must make choices that test his loyalty to America, to his family, and ultimately, to himself. But I believe that ALPHA is a test of loyalty for me as well. With the way that ALPHA is going, it's going to test and stress almost every relationship I've ever had. It's going to flip the idea of the "American Dream" on its head--if it even exists to begin with. That's what makes writing it so hard. The issues, while close to my heart, are triggers for my disabilities. And I'm excited yet terrified of the effects that it's going to have on my relationships with my family, my friends, and even you, my beautiful readers.
There is one thing I do know: I am not giving up on this project. But all I can do is keep trucking along, and hope and pray that people are patient enough until I can learn to control the monsters inside me.
Thank you all for your support. I love each and every one of you.
Love and Coffee cups,