Monsters o Men
bringselements o war and terrorismto stunning lie, only slightlybuered by the sci-f setting.Which came frst, the decisionto explore these themes or thedecision to have the story take place in an alternate world?
The story always comes frst. I think i you start outthinking about themes, then you’re risking writing abook that preaches, and who wants to read that? Ialways encourage young writers to trust themselvesand try to get attuned to what a story is trying to tellthem. I the story really,
wants to be written,chances are it’s already going to contain all thoseimportant themes you want to write about. Evenbetter, it’ll be in the orm o a cracking story, andthereore no preachiness! All I ocused on in
was the story wanting to be told, and I triedto stay as true to it as possible. And since war themesconcern me, then that’s naturally going to be part o the story I tell, I hope.
One o the most dramatic themes o
Monsters o Men
and the Chaos Walking series as a whole is the impacto choices. Do the two statements below, delivered byBradley and Mistress Coyle respectively, complementor contradict each other?
They both complement
contradict eachother. Bradley is absolutely right on the one hand,but then a couple sentences later he admits thathe doesn’t know what he would have done i he’dbeen aced with the same choice he was just talkingabout. And Mistress Coyle is also absolutely rightin saying that leaders must make difcult — evenmonstrous — decisions. That’s what makes themleaders. But does knowing that act ever make themchoose monstrously when they may not have neededto? For me, it’s really about making choices with youreyes open. You’re going to get them wrong sometimes,o course, but when you do, it’s important to learnrom them and, even more importantly, accept theconsequences and not try to pretend it was out o your hands.
Another important theme seems to be the possibilityo redemption or dierent souls. The Mayor, Todd,Viola, and 1017 are all in need o dierent types o redemption. Do the varying degrees o redemptionthey actually fnd (or don’t) relate more to their innatecharacter, or to the choices they make?
Yes, defnitely. This is a big one or me. I have tobelieve that the possibility o redemption exists oreveryone,
or what is humanity good or?And I defnitely think it comes down to choices. I it came down to character, you’d have to believe thatindividuals are inherently good or inherently evil,which I think lets us o the hook when it comesto the hard work o being good. Circumstance andupbringing play a part, o course, but every humanhas the capacity or good or evil, and it’s only choicesthat make us one or the other. Davy in
The Ask and the Answer
is the best example. We eventually saw exactly
he was making the bad choices hedid, but then ultimately he ound a way to makebetter ones through the inuence o Todd. Whichis why his death was such a tragedy. Anyone can beredeemed. But frst, they have to want it, and second,they have to know that it’s possible.
Patrick NessQ & A
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