The question here was around empathy.
I was interested in unravelling one moment of madness, exploring the image of an old woman weeping on the tarmac of a McDonald’s drive through, of cracking it open. I chose to set the piece in North Carolina because I moved there as a child, and living in Scotland again has helped me perceive and piece together stories – parables – which examine societies’ strangeness.
In Britain and America there is an enormous discrepancy between generations – the young who cannot understand the opinions and voting practices of the old. The old who see the young as having no sense or morals. I sat in church next to millionaires who gave vast sums of money to the church for equipment and trips abroad, and believed that as little as possible should be spent on social welfare.
I am a hypocrite. We are a society of hypocrites. It is impossible to be absolute. The character I explored supported the war, eats meat, hates young people, but cannot bear the death of a snail. These hypocrisies sustain society. It’s what we all have in common.
We have to agree on something if we are to affect change: empathy.
Here We All Are
This is part of a short story collection I am currently working on. I was recently shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards (2019) and am currently unpublished. The focus of most of my work is Scottish, but at the moment I’m exploring a series of stories set in North Carolina, which examine questions around society, of which this is one.