Wednesday, 23 March 2011

"A World Where We Can't Share Stories"

Okay, now this really fucks me off.

For a while now, I've been keeping tabs on an upcoming indie book called The Society for the Remarkable Suicide - not least because my Indifference Engine (and - say it in whispers, guys - maybe even Indifference Engine 2) collaborator, Rob Carey, is working on it. It's got a strong creative team, a fascinating premise and all the ingredients for a book that I want to fucking read.

Thing is, there seem to be a couple of ignorant piss-bags out there who are prepared to go to quite extraordinary lengths to prevent that from happening. I can already tell that I'm going to lose my rationality if I let this rant build any further, so I'll do the responsible thing and let the book's author, Stephen Coffey walk you through the clusterhump of ignorance, cowardice and spite that has been levelled against it.

The Society for the Remarkable Suicide
by Stephen Paul Coffey
Art by Cormac Hughes and Robert Carey

Here are the FACTS about the story:

Three years ago, I wrote the script for this graphic novel. I wanted to write a story that started a conversation - after all, a conversation can help so many of the problems we have in our personal lives.

When I first told the people in my life the title of the book I was going to write, I got a few strange looks. More than usual, but I expected that. I expected a lot of the hostility that I have faced since finishing the script. I know that everyone knows someone directly who has been touched by suicide. I know too many who have left by their own hands. When I finished the script for the graphic novel I let people read it - some artist friends, a few other writers and some friends - and the same response to the story came from each one of them.

‘It wasn’t what I expected!’

I think it was due to the fact that people expected a tale of disgusting suicidal acts that would just be done to shock the reader. I wouldn’t have written that book.

The Society for the Remarkable Suicide is a book about love. Yes, there are suicides in the book that are ‘Remarkable’ yet they are told with as much dignity as I could manage to fit in. The story is a very human tale about the feelings that people have, and stigma surrounding the feelings that each human on this planet feels at one point in their life.

Trevor and Catherine are the main characters of the book and we follow them through a process where they join the Society and, through the planning of their own suicides, they come to find a reason to live. That reason is each other, a reason that neither of them thought that they would find. That is the whole essence of the book. We don’t know what it is that will make us want to live - that special someone coming into our lives, a pet, a book, even the promise of a well cooked meal.

When our two heroes declare their intent to live, the Society tries to intervene and fulfil their contracts by any means.

Since writing the book and talking to people, it has been a mixed bag from people saying they can’t wait to read the book to others who openly say that they won’t buy the book, and I respect them for saying that to me. There have also been some threats. People have read the title of the book and made their minds up. Also, there have been a few people who believed that this book is just a manual on how to kill yourself. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Life is worth every piece of heartache and pain we go through. Every moment of love, no matter how brief or fleeting it may be, wipes all that pain away. Trevor and Catherine find their reason to live while planning their deaths. This book is about love and hope, redemption and enlightenment. I guess I wanted to share a story of hope that I had not seen anywhere else. I think I have.

Facebook have shut down both my own fan page and the page for the book - without reading one word of the script - and stopped me sharing and friends posting on my walls because of this book. I’ve also received a number of threats from people to my face, and have had pictures sent to my email of me walking around Dublin. I assume that this is to show that they can get to me.

I don’t fear sharing a story with the world, I fear a world where we can’t share stories.

If you or anyone you know would like more information about this book, you can follow me on www.twitter.com/stephencoffey or www.myspace.com/chrestfelt

2 comments:

  1. Sadly, there are many people out there that will form knee jerk reactions without bothering to find out anything about the subject that they are so incensed about.

    Ultimately it comes down to your safety. Are you at personal risk? And is the fear of this sufficient to stifle your creativity? Only you can make this call.

    As I said in my FB mails to you a couple of days ago, you have my support and I will help wherever you feel I can. But don't put yourself at undue risk for it.

    There are always ways of doing contentious things without putting you in the firing line. They may not be ideal or as quick. But they are better than getting yourself hurt.

    Oh, this reply was aimed at Stephen rather than you Cy. But if you want, I can hurt you. Just so you don't feel left out. ;)

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  2. Cheers, Matt - but no need.

    I've got an "Enemies" list of my own to keep track of. ;)

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