Have you ever thought about what goes on behind any facades that may or may not be on show from any and all of the faces which may be on show as we move around the world? Are we seeing any fraction of the truth from all the people who pass us by? Are we showing any fraction of our own truth to them?

I spent the last weekend in Paris at a convention for the TV show Spartacus. At first glance, it’s a violent story of war liberally peppered with all manner of sex but if you look beyond those things, it is so much more. There were stars from the show signing autographs and posing for pictures but they were also taking part in talks about the show and their work, past, present and future.

For those of you out there who haven’t been to a convention of any kind, you really should find your way to one as soon as you can. They’re great. Meeting the stars who’ve brought characters to life during the adventures of a favourite show is a real treat. Meeting up and spending time with other fans of a show is such a liberating experience. Those other people who share your passions, who don’t immediately roll their eyes or simply dismiss your enthusiasm as nothing more than just the inane wittering of that nutter at work, are a chance for everyone who is in the crowd to dare to take their protective mask off.

Each and every person there can have deeply felt and nuanced discussions, heated disagreements which have been known to lurch into arguments (but nothing of any threat of violence, we just agree to disagree then head off to the bar, talking about something else) but also the relaxed conversations which come from there being the knowledge that they’re able to say anything they want on the topics of choice and they won’t be judged for it. We keep our bizarre desire to argue the merits of Picard v Kirk (Picard), did Han shoot first (of course he did) and vitally, the question of utter depth of meaning with the gravitas akin to the meaning of life, why the hell did Fox cancel Firefly?

And it feels good to take the masks off to risk the tender flesh of our true selves being shown to the light. We can relax. We don’t have to cramp ourselves into the armoured shell of normality and for a short time we are all able to spread our wings without the fear of judgement.

But we all do the same don’t we? There are people happy to judge us when we dare to say anything about a loved book or favourite film but when they then say that they love Jersey / Geordie Shore, don’t we just roll our eyes back at them?

Each and every one of us wears a mask to keep our reality away from harm. We all keep huge swathes of ourselves out of the public eye and for me, when I write anything I always keep that in mind. It is my aim that every character I write in every story, from the five hundred word single page effort through short tale and novella and landing in novel, be aware of the layers in who they are. I want everyone to have ‘stuff’ they have to deal with beyond what is ‘normal’. The extra details of the existence and psyche of everyone on Earth is what makes everything more interesting. The glimpse of what happens behind the masks is what we all strive to explore.

The convention scene, with the wide range of subjects and genres gives the world a chance to show what they really have to hide in a safe environment. It allows everyone who attends to relax and have fun without those masks of the day to day wedged in place.

Lets us all put other masks on when we get there.

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