In all of the story ideas that I’ve had over the last few months, there’s been a core of importance around the relationship of the people and the law. From dystopian futures and a rag tag uprising through to the police racing against time to prevent a catastrophe, how the population react to the authority figures and then, how that relationship can permeate every part of life.
What do you feel about the Police?
I suppose it’d depend on a great many things but in there will have to be what kind of interactions you’ve had with them.
So what interactions have you had with them?
If the only time you’ve ever had the chance to deal face to face with the Police was a passing nod at a village fete, you’re going to have a very different opinion than someone who’s a career criminal who keeps getting arrested. In each case, we would be built by the experiences and that’s the same as pretty much everything, but the next place to look is the Police themselves.
No matter the reasons you have to deal with the law, those people of the thin blue line have a very important role to fill in society. Have you ever thought about the kinds of things that members of the Police force have to deal with?
If you’ve been broken into, the Police will be there to investigate and not only catch the person responsible but also maybe retrieve your lost belongings. If you break the law, then they’re coming for you. But also, if you’re attacked and they’re the first on the scene, they’ll care for you, they’ll comfort you should they have to deliver the horrific news that a loved one has been killed.
The Police put themselves in harms way on a normal day at work. Drunken fights, abuse, broken bodies and the possibility of being the target of violence themselves aren’t the sort of job ‘perks’ that most of us would put up with but the men and women of the Police accept that they have to deal with these things and more yet still head off to work.
So we should be cheering for the law every day?
Well, maybe not.
There have been a great many examples of members of the Police force not quite reaching the high standards we expect of them. Indeed, in storytelling, the idea of the ‘dirty cop’ is startlingly common and there will always be examples in all walks of life of people who just think abhorrent things so finding some in the Police shouldn’t be a shock. But whereas in other jobs, these people are now gifted with a remarkable amount of power to explore those ideas. Just a tiny step and the power is being used far outside the rules.
I’m writing stories where there is a strong focus on what a ruling force can do. In The Circle books, the main character is placed within a very strict framework of rules but that doesn’t mean that that framework can simply be viewed as existing for the good of everyone with no possible dark side. Recognising that there may be some darkness within the very force that is there to protect us all and maintain the boundaries of our society allows for a much more expressive and nuanced collection of prose. If the good guy can go bad, what does that mean for the rest of us?
The law is needed and as an extension of the law, the Police are a vital part of how our societies are stitched together but like all those superheroes out there, they have the great responsibility that comes with the power. The Police can far too easily become the clenched fist of the ruling power and destroy any and all dissenting voices but without them, we all find ourselves living in the film The Purge.