The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved ... Jack Kerouac
I pretty much feel the same when it comes to the characters in my stories, especially the part where they are mad to be saved. Salvation is a reoccurring theme in my novellas, and at the start, my characters are often at their lowest point. Now that I think about that a bit, I am not much for showing someone’s descent into Hell with the exception of Sin-eater, my yet to be finished manuscript. In that story I seemed to have gone in the completely opposite direction from my own normal approach: no love, no sympathy, no compassion, and no salvation ... at least on the surface. Must be why I had to put the damn thing away for a while.
As for whether or not my characters are “normal” I would say they definitely are. The reason they appear obsessive, bat-shit crazy, and eccentric is because they don’t hide the darkness. They are not afraid of it, are not afraid of how society might label them for it. As Jung would say, they have come face to face with their shadow and have embraced it. Is their suffering extraordinary? No, it’s not, but what is extraordinary -- and I feel this way about characters in general, not necessarily my own -- is their willingness face the suffering: to live it, to talk about it, and more importantly to be changed by it, not necessarily to defeat it, but rather to appreciate the suffering and thus rise above it. Camus’ The Stranger always comes to mind, but the world of literature is filled with mad characters. Many of the Indie books I have reviewed on this site are littered with them, but of late, the main character in Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, Victor Mancini, has been one of my favourites to analyze along with the unnamed narrator in Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. All of these protagonists display psychopathic tendencies to a degree, and I think that is what makes them so compelling.
So, who would you invite to your tea-party? I know Dorian Gray would be on my list, along with a few hundred others.
Cheryl Anne Gardner
The Art is Alice at The Mad Hatter's Tea Party by John Tenniel