The Koala Effect
You’re out camping in the Australian bush. It’s night time. You leave the tent to take a leak. Suddenly from the inky darkness comes a bladder-loosening, guttural roar. Convinced you’re about to be eaten alive by an escaped circus lion, you fumble with the torch, turn it on, and see this fellow:
Yes, they really do have terrifying growls, look it up on YouTube if you don’t believe me!
What’s the point, you ask? We’re getting there, just Bear with me.
One of the most common misconceptions about writers I’ve encountered is that if we pen something dark, nihilistic, or downbeat, we must be a miserable, depressed person. For example, prior to my latest novel, my works were mostly sombre affairs that dealt with violence, addiction, death, etc. Yet if you know me, I hope you’ll agree I’m about as grim and gloomy as a visit to Legoland while under the influence of codeine. (Okay, maybe I’m overselling myself a bit here, but I’d like to think I’m at least marginally cheerier than the tale of a totalitarian stone age society being torn apart by substance abuse from the inside and mammalian dragons from the outside)
People tend to assume that the tone of our stories reflect our lives and our mental state, but by that logic, every actor who has ever played a villain must be an evil person.
I like to call this phenomenon the Koala Effect; we may express ourselves in a scary way, but that doesn’t mean we’re not harmless, happy, and cuddly in person. 😉