I am not crazy. I'm not malicious, malevolent, or misanthropic. I've never manipulated anyone into ruin, threatened someone's life, or run out of a taxicab without paying the fare, and I've certainly never made a burger out of anybody.
In short, I'm not Kiera Graves, the antiheroine of my dark scifi saga, the Puppetmasters Series. Yet some of my readers find it hard to believe I'm not a tormented artist after reading Book One, Peacebreakers.
When I first broke into book business, one of my earliest readers was a teacher I had in high school. Words she used to describe her reaction included "shock" and "horror", two emotions that were clearly written all over her face. She was disturbed at my portrayal of Kiera's turbulent family life and exploits as an enthusiastic assassin, and concerned about what might have caused me to write her this way. Did I harbor a secret desire to violently dispatch my enemies? she wondered. Was Kiera's enmity towards her father based on my own personal experiences?
In real life, I wouldn't hurt a worm, and as for my relationship with my father, we're close as can be. He was actually the one who inspired me to start writing in the first place. When I was little, he told me the most magical bedtime stories that he made up on the spot, mostly action-packed adventure stories with at least one dramatic fight scene. When he reached the end of a story, my eyes would light up and I would think, wow, I hope one day I'll be able to make up something that exciting.
So here I am, years later. I'm an upstanding, productive member of society who volunteers at the hospital, and in my spare time, I write about ruthless assassins, inter-species strife, viral apocalypse, and forbidden trysts in the alcoves of run-down mansions. I don't deny my fiction isn't for the faint of heart, but it isn't drawn from my life--in fact, I suspect my penchant for dark fiction comes from a need to balance out my cherry-bowl existence.
You can't judge a writer by his or her subject matter any more than you can judge a book by its cover. That's not to say there aren't writers out there who take out their troubles on their characters, but it happens less often than you might think.
To my fellow dystopians in this world and others, goodnight and excelsior!
Mindy MacKay is a native of Canada but currently lives and studies in Texas. She is a poet of ten years, a novelist of four, and has been a literature nerd for as long as she can remember. Her novels include Peacebreakers and Soulgame, the first two installments of the Puppetmasters series, and Fallen From Disgrace, a single-title mystery. Her short fiction has been published by Pill Hill Press and 69 Flavors of Paranoia.