The Process of Death — A Character’s and Author’s Ultimate Truth — B. J. Thompson
Today I’m happy to welcome author B. J. Thompson as she shares insights into her writing.
All stories have climaxes and endings where a character in a literary work evolves or devolves. But I’ve always asked myself, what if the pinnacle of realization as a living human being comes not at the apex of one’s journey, but at the end, in those very final moments before death?
Yes, it’s not a comfortable thought, for we can greedily say, what’s the point of experiencing any apex if afterward your very existence fades to black?
Yet, I feel I must travel down this literary road in order to meet face-to-face with those very seconds in every work I have ever undertaken. The Plan: I choose a real life icon or event or ideal and wrap fictional characters and a side story around said and have they and it play out to that final moment. Now, you could assume all my tales have a mortal ending, and to some extent they do, but I entertain the idea that life is cyclical, renewable, regenerative, and those life lessons put on display by the dead help we, the survivors of such tales, move on to better understand the possibility of ever-lasting life.
Yes, I know, all very airy-fairy there, B. J., but why, you may ask, delve into and ever dwell in such dark corners? Well, I’m Canadian of North Irish descent and you cannot be Northern Irish and not accept the marriage of death with life as an everyday and natural thing. Back in the day, the Irish were known for the 3-day Olympic-class funeral wakes. There wasn’t anything in those rites of passage that were distant or sanitized for your protection. You had a front-row seat to death. You kissed the corpse before the coffin was closed. The men, after the respectable daytime luncheon, would hold a darker version and stuff a drink in the dead man’s hand and party alongside the coffin until dawn. We are a people who look at death head-on and choose to see it as a renewal, of lessons learned in this life that we take to the next.
In my first novel, No More Blood, I examined the last three hours of the iconic celebrity author, Truman Capote, to see how he wrestled with his own demons after his explosive rise to fame and fortune from his reportage of the Kansas Clutter family murders of 1959, depicted in his non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood. In my second work, a political thriller, I examined the death of an ideal through President Nixon and the Watergate scandal, and how those acts forever tainted our view of politicians and democracy. In Eighteen Minutes to the Beast, I tell the reader what was said on the infamous 18 ½ minute gap of the Nixon Watergate tape #342 which today is housed at the Washington D.C. National Archives. And in my third work, a psychological noir, entitled, Sessions, I examine the death of the soul through the eyes and acts of an imaginary sexually sadistic female serial killer, who is related to a real life killer, and who chooses to spend seven sessions with a psychiatrist at the end of her life.
For me as an artist, death must be faced in order to appreciate life. Grab a pint of Guinness, won’t you, and come along for the ride.
About the Author:
B. J. Thompson was born in the Lake Country District of southern Ontario, Canada and is a retired public relations liaison, and currently a Calgary-based novelist of historical literary works. An only child to an RCMP Constable father and industrial accountant mother, B. J. grew up very Anglo-Saxon, very Northern Irish. B. J. has done extensive travelling and now lives to swim, hike and fish in the Rocky Mountains, enjoys her friends and family, leads an avant-garde writers group likened on the 1920s Montparnasse, Paris “Lost Generation,” and pens her tales on either side of Cocktail Hour. B. J.’s upcoming historical epic, entitled, AIR, tells of six US Navy sailors on December 7, 1941 as they try to hold on to life in the capsized USS Oklahoma after the Pearl Harbor attack. All six, trapped below the sea, find out there can be far worse things in life than death. AIR is due to be released on December 7, 2020.
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