Written by Will Carver


I’m worried. We don’t know who we are. And we don’t know what’s going on. 

In my last book, Good Samaritans, I explored the idea that we have become a disconnected society, despite living in a world that is supposed to be ultra connected. In my latest novel, Nothing Important Happened Today, I wanted to take this further and explore identity and the loss of identity. 

I know, I’m supposed to be a crime writer. I should have somebody killed and a flawed detective or duo investigate that crime and solve it. Apparently, because I am placed in a box as ‘genre fiction’, my sentences will also be absent of rhythm… 

Maybe I don’t know who Iam. Maybe I have no idea what’s going on. But I started writing a book about an invisible suicide cult and that idea of a disconnected, faceless society came back and was clearer than ever. 

Every cult starts with an idea. It doesn’t have to be hostile or anti-establishment or venomous. They begin with people. People who have something in common. They share something similar and they want to be around others who feel the same way. 

You join an idea or a movement or you follow somebody who talks about things you believe in. You don’t join a cult. Because it takes a while to evolve into that state. 

And, at this time, we are more susceptible than ever because we don’t know who we are. 

Most people have difficulty in finding what they want to do or who they want to be, but now we are not just one person. We have an online persona. We can project a filtered image of ourselves to the world. We can live the life we think we want, where we are happy with our partners and our kids never misbehave and our photos show no blemishes or crow’s feet or cellulite. 

But there’s still that other person. The person we really are. In the background. And they are being neglected because more effort is going into the pretend person. The one who does not exist. We are not working hard to become them, we have manufactured them. 

And mental health awareness is on the rise, which can only be a good thing. We are talking about it. But, everybody now has a voice, so how do we disseminate the information from the white noise? And, often, the people with those loud voices are not real people. The real people behind those personas are quiet and scared and vulnerable, and shouting as somebody else is not helping the real person. 

Then, somebody calls me out and says that I am insensitive to these issues because of the way things are portrayed in my book. I may not know exactly who I am but I know enough to say that the psychotic narration of this fictionnovel comes from a character. Much like the criticism came from behind an online persona. 

We are having difficulty differentiating between what is real and what is fake, what is fact and what is fiction, who we are and who we wish we could be. 

And largely, this comes from social media. A movement that started with a groovy idea to connect us all but has developed into something that more closely resembles a cult. I see more and more people leaving but we are waiting for an online equivalent of The Jonestown Massacre or Waco to confirm these suspicions. 

In a country/world that is currently so divided, there is an opportunity to say something that matters. Scoring hits against the opposition isn’t activism. Putting down an entire (writing) community is literary snobbery. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s cowardly. It doesn’t achieve anything. 

Not since the Vietnam War has there been such polarisation. But from that atrocity came a countercultural revolution within the arts. Books, music and films had something to say. It wasn’t always comfortable. It wasn’t always what people wanted to hear. But it shone a light on the world and exposed the uncomfortable truths of that time. 

So, yes, there are suicides. And, yes, I threw in a detective. And, literati, it is technically a crime novel (with rhythm), but it’s not really about that. It’s about trying to cut through all the voices. It’s about knowing we have a choice. It’s about the power we give ourselves by not talking so much. It’s me asking whether we can learn more about ourselves if we just shut up and listen, once in a while. 

But, then, who am I?


Will Carver’s psychological thriller Nothing Important Happened Today is published by Orenda Books. £8.99. 14 November 2019. Read SHOTS' review here.

Will Carver

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