It always starts with two pens. They are not expensive pens. They are the cheap and cheerful kind, like you’d see in any office building. It is always two. Never one, and certainly never three. Always two. That is how my process begins and that is how I unlock my imagination. It all started as a child when I would look at the action figures in front of me and find them too rigid and inflexible. Their forms had already been decided in a board room, and their bodies assembled in some far away factory by a clock punching assembly line worker. I didn’t like the limits that it placed on my imagination to see them fully formed and whole like that. There was just no place for me to go that hadn’t already been decided by someone else. So, I started to play with pens instead. The first pen I would hold out in front of me, and in my mind I would visualise it as an arm. That root of an arm would fast become a whole person, and that person, a character. I would then hold up the second pen and start the process over again. Two characters would stand in front of me and speak, and as they spoke, a world formed around them. I would sit in a trance over their world and observe these ink blooded creatures as they provided me with all the material I ever needed. There was never any writer’s block for me. There was only pen number one, and pen number two. As long as they were in my pocket, I had the potential to make my every desire a reality. The ink in my own blood tells me that there is no other option but to write. It is the process by which I breathe. There is no greater rush than the thrill of putting new words down on the page, and no greater release for getting the problems out of your head. Who needs the expense of a therapist when you have two pens and a piece of paper?
My first novel was definitely a form of therapy. Morbid Thoughts is a story born out of the rage of my teenage years. A time in my life where I couldn’t handle the things that other people thought of me and believed to be true. For my last year in school, people called me ‘pervert’ instead of my name because I brought a video camera on a school trip in a time before camera phones were all the rage. The camera never left my room, but from that day I stopped being Michael to them and became ‘pervert’. I responded by becoming cold and distant when people talked to me in the classrooms, but that only led to them voting me as the most likely person to shoot up the school. Yet another negative expectation that they placed upon me. One girl told me that I’d ‘have to rape someone to lose my virginity.’. As you can imagine, it all started to get to me, and I dropped out at the age of 17. But even though I moved away from the problem, it still stayed with me. All those negative expectations of who they thought I was, and what they thought I would become. I remember thinking that if what they had in their head was a real person, it would be a terrifying, vile human being, not some mentally broken kid. That is how I created Aaron Walsh, the protagonist in Morbid Thoughts. Aaron is a caricature of all the negative expectations they had for me. He is terrifying. He is vile. He is everything they ever said dialled up to 11.
I did not feel well when I wrote that book. I would cry and not know the reason why. I would have random urges to harm myself. It was all the stuff that was inside of me that I hadn’t addressed, and for that reason he was a very important character for me to write. By writing him, and putting all of that negativity into him, I could separate myself from the past and move on. That is the power that a simple pen can have. You can escape yourself and turn your problems into something else. I am a much healthier person now for having put that character down onto the page. Now he is out there terrifying the masses instead of terrifying me.
I write this as a proud, first time author. Getting published was something I always wanted, but it was not an easy thing to do. Unless you have a million Twitter followers, or are writing a trilogy in a trending genre, they are often just not interested. I was not about to take no for an answer. Those years of bullying had put a fierce independent streak into me, so I decided to do it myself instead, and I quickly became a one man industry. I did the things that I had the skill to do, and when I ran into a roadblock I would hire someone to do it for me. I hired editors, cover designers, printers, the works. I wanted to make sure that everything was as good as it could possibly be and on par with any product you’d find in a traditionally published bookstore. Now it’s all here and I am very happy with the final product. I am a published author that went about it the hard way, but for me, that’s nothing new.
It all started with a child and his pens.
(c) Michael McGovern
About Morbid Thoughts:
I’d like to kill you. Don’t take it personally, it’s just who I am. My name is Aaron Walsh, and this is my story. You won’t like me by the end of it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun along the way, right? There’s this girl I have to tell you about. This beautiful girl. Her name is Jane and I plan to make her mine.
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