You’ve talked a bit elsewhere about how this is some of the most personal storytelling you’ve done. What do you think you’ve discovered or uncovered through exploring mental health and the mind through the story of Stephen Leeds?
I am often quite certain I know (in general) what a reader’s reaction will be when I release a story. That’s part of my job—to create something that produces an emotional response. Art is the act of inspiring emotion. Once in a while, however, I do something for the emotion it inspires in me, with less regard for how I think it will be received. Of course, usually these two are one and the same—the emotion it gives me will be the emotion most readers will feel.
This story is different. It is partially about mental health, yes, but it’s also about the voice of a storyteller finding balance between all the voices crying for his attention. It’s about the unwritten stories.
You see, as a young writer, I never worried if I’d have time to get to all the stories I wanted to tell. I was far more focused on whether or not I’d even have a career. I wrote assuming that if a story didn’t work now, I’d eventually find a place for it. But as I’ve grown older, the realities of aging have begun to whisper to me that I need to stay focused—that if I want to complete my life’s work, some other stories will simply have to be abandoned. That has been a hard realization. I don’t know if anyone else will see that meaning in this story, or how this even relates—but it is certainly part of Lies of the Beholder for me. That’s the part I say is very personal, but which means it’s more difficult to gauge how readers will respond—because so much of this is a very individual story.