Meet Morgan Bell...
The Power of Independence
By Morgan Bell
That was me three years ago. I couldn’t go on being a cog in the broken machine a day longer. I needed to say something. I had something to say. And we have a limited time in this life to truly make a difference.
Do weird short allegories make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps to only a few people. I see it as: you be real and put it out there, and even if just one person is consoled it is a better use of your time that treading water your whole life. Creative writing makes me feel like my most authentic self.
I was a civil engineer for local government because I wanted to help people. But in the 15 years I was in the workforce I saw a lot of disappointing changes away from the principles of public service. I essentially got burnt out. I packed up my cats, put all my belongings in storage in Sydney, and moved to the coastal village of Port Stephens to live with my parents. I am now a full-time indie author. I don’t make a living from it, but it’s given me the space to accept being an insulin-dependent diabetic and to properly manage my clinical depression. It’s been a pulling of the wool from my eyes in my approach to aging and disability, which is a major theme in my writing.
Battlestar Galactica, Westworld, Orphan Black, Legion, Mr. Robot, Firefly; I always go to humanist sci-fi for socioeconomic thought-experiments. In these near-future worlds, we can work through how our real-world systems affect minorities, women, and people living with disabilities. This is what I like about speculative fiction. Within these constructed worlds you have the freedom to be philosophical without the constraints of accepted norms and taboos in the real world.
One of my favorite books is Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve for examining gender through the scenario of a forced sex-change. Similarly, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora really challenged my enchantment with the idea of space-exploration by framing it as an extension of the unsustainable colonialism of the past. Like Avatar, there is the idea that we can only exist in our own eco-system, that we are a part of it, and it is a part of us. These ideas are not completely new, but sometimes including elements of the fantastical can really open people’s eyes.
For short story lovers, I recommend Sonja Dechian’s An Astronaut’s Life and Julie Koh’s Portable Curiosities. I edited an anthology of botanical horror called Sproutlings: A Compendium of Little Fictions that was brimming with metaphors about environmentalism and the psychology of relationships. It was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign. It was self-published and it was launched at the Newcastle Writers Festival. Themed collections really capture the imaginations of readers.
I often refer to self-publishing as the punk-rock of publishing. We are doing something truly revolutionary. We are putting our thoughts out into the world unfiltered by the cowardice of corporate marketing machines. I have two self-published short story collections: Sniggerless Boundulations, and my recent release Laissez Faire. My hope is that they are horizon-expanding. I know there is an audience for everything, and variety makes us all the richer.