in move, my novel about friendship under pressure, starts Part Three today. It’s a good time to jump on board!
in move has four main characters. (Pro tip: it is dumb to have four main characters in your first attempt at writing a novel.) Part Three has a focus on Adam, the goofy tall one without a great deal of confidence. He is, you could say, the nice one.
Reading along with the story as it has gone live, I’ve been struck by just how unpleasant the characters can be. It’s meant to be that way of course – I was trying to capture something of how life actually felt, and this sort of behaviour was everywhere. Teenage boys possess great nobility and kindness, but their world rewards a different register of behaviour.
Related: the scale of the distance between what the characters say and do, and what’s going on inside their heads. The size of the gulf here is part of NZ male culture. We blokes are famous for retreating from any kind of genuine emotional expression. (We all go off pig hunting or hide in our sheds, apparently.) This isn’t exactly healthy, and our high rates of alcohol abuse and suicide are both regularly linked to this tendency, but there remains a certain kind of pride in it – watch any of our television advertisements for beer and you’ll see this kind of behaviour quietly rewarded.
This story’s main characters were assembled in a particular way, to demonstrate contrasting approaches to key concerns that were part of the world for me and my friends. Reading it now, I guess they also demonstrate different approaches to interiority. This shows up most clearly in their unpleasant moments; also their most vulnerable ones.
That’s how it works.
I’m curious to note a change in myself, as well. For better or worse, I judge these character flaws more harshly than I used to. I’m two decades older than them, and I suppose this means I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be them. A future of being yelled at by my teenage daughter awaits?
Anyway. Adam’s the nice one. You can read about his life starting here. He’s been sitting at the bottom of the pecking order for a long time, and things are due for a shake-up.