The number 13 has never been more appealing! Black 13 by Adam Hamdy will be with us soon! I was lucky to meet Adam during Capital Crime, the amazing book festival he organised with David Headley, and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to welcome this talented author today on the blog, with a special guest post!
Here’s a phenomenal piece on patterns, and how books help us understand our world!
2, 11, 29, 65, 137…
Humans try to make sense of patterns. Weather patterns, migration patterns, social patterns were, and still are, essential for our survival. But we don’t just analyse patterns, we create them and often try to see sense where there is none. Our innate need to make sense of the world is one of the reasons psychics will never run out of customers and religions will never be short of followers. We’re genetically predisposed to find patterns even where there may not be any, and this genetic predisposition is reinforced by social conditioning – we’re raised to believe the world should make sense. I wonder how long it would take Artificial Intelligence to develop religion if we gave it a simple objective: find meaning.
A forest of intertwined, gnarled ancient trees covers the earth. It’s so large no one is quite sure where it starts and where it ends. At the shaded mossy heart of the forest is a silver lake, and beside it stands a young boy. He has a message for you.
Anyone who’s ever visited a psychic will be familiar with the style of imagery. It relies on generalised specifics to enable the brain to apply patterns and derive meaning which is relevant to the individual. Without the boy or the lake, the image is too generalised to pattern, but once the boy and lake are added, a person seeking meaning in the world might start looking out for situations in which children say things near bodies of water. If the boy had been given a name – Alan – and the lake had been Windermere, the image would be too specific for anyone to apply their own pattern.
Stories do something similar. It’s no accident that many early tales concern natural phenomena. Apollo hauling the sun across the sky in his chariot, the Ancient Egyptian goddess Nut holding up the heavens, the sun traveling through her body each night to be reborn, the creation of the sun, moon and storms by the Japanese deity Izanagi. From the earliest times, people have used stories to try to make sense of the world, using imagery to give their experiences meaning.
Storytelling lets us explore boundless worlds, countless issues and endless lives. It enables us to apply different patterns without changing the world. Fiction allows us to experiment with new ideas, new ways of thinking about the world, without necessarily impacting it at all. It is a safe environment to challenge society and ourselves. Storytelling encourages thoughtfulness, empathy, and because of our predisposition to pattern, people will usually find meaning or personal significance in all but the most banal tales.
If something is troubling me, I’ll always write about it. What I write might not make it into a finished work, but the process of exploring the issue on the page is cathartic and rewarding. In the case of my new thriller novel Black 13, I wanted to take a look at the issues of extremism and race. These are things that have long bothered me. As a mixed race child living in London, I got racial abuse. We had dog muck posted through our letter box, I was spat on, and was even snotted on once (don’t ask). I’ve never been able to comprehend the roots of such irrational hatred, but people who hold such views are becoming much more visible, so Black 13 was the impetus to go on a journey and research the subject in depth.
I met notorious extremists who hold very harmful views on race and racial purity, and by talking to them I was able to understand their misguided reasoning and the influences that led them to their reprehensible conclusions. Writing the book has helped me better understand my experiences growing up. Often if a child experiences racial abuse, at some level he or she internalises it and believes he or she somehow deserves it when nothing could be further from the truth. Writing Black 13 has helped me apply a new pattern to make better sense of my world. In addition to what I hope is a fast paced entertaining thriller, I also hope Black 13 will give readers some thought provoking insight into the world around us.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter might be familiar with this thread (https://twitter.com/adamhamdy/status/1146077460590669825?s=20) on the measurable health benefits of reading. Studies show similar health benefits from creative writing. Research published in Personality and Psychology Bulletin in 2001 showed a link between writing every day and improved general wellbeing. In a study conducted by Southern Methodist University, not only did writing help employees who’d been made redundant deal with the emotional toll of their experiences, those who wrote got new jobs faster than those who didn’t.
Reading and writing helps us make sense of the world and of ourselves, and if you want to do your mental health a favour, pick up a book. Or a pen.
Thanks to the wonderful Meggy Roussel for having me on Chocolate N Waffles. And if you haven’t spotted the pattern at the beginning of this piece, the next number is obtained by doubling the previous figure and adding 7.
Thank you very much to Adam Hamdy for such a brilliant guest post. I could totally relate to the finding-pattern habit and I love how Adam linked our behavior with books and their importance.
Thank you to Adam and Tracy Fenton for this fabulous opportunity!
Mark the date, Black 13 is coming! 23 January 2020
British author and screenwriter Adam Hamdy works with studios and production companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
He is the author of the Pendulum trilogy, an epic series of conspiracy thriller novels. James Patterson described Pendulum as ‘one of the best thrillers of the year’, and the novel was nominated for the Glass Bell Award for contemporary fiction, and chosen as book of the month by Goldsboro Books and WH Smith Travel. Pendulum was also selected for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club.
Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors, experience that has given him a useful insight into many industries.
Adam has a law degree from Oxford University and a philosophy degree from the University of London. He is a seasoned rock climber, skier and CPSA marksman.