This was a cathartic process, as I will explain.
Frequently, my stories spring into my mind largely complete (from some darn place) but Arkmind was an exception. I wrote it the hard way – lots of thought, graft and even a little research, which is very unusual for me (correlative map of consciousness, anyone?)
I wanted to paint on a large canvas and create a tale detailing major events over vast distances and great expanses of time, whilst asking some fundamental questions along the way. I have always admired such stories and the scope they provide for reader and writer alike. Moreover, I had recently lost my father (three days before my 40th birthday) and had been thinking a lot about life, time and bereavement. I had also been thinking about memories – specifically their subjective nature and the way in which they define and preserve us. I guess Arkmind is a synthesis of all those considerations and emotions.
The result, I believe, is a love story.
The concept of a sentient machine falling in love with a human being is nothing new. That the machine should subsequently sacrifice its immortality to live a human life is not new either. The originality (I like to think some exists!) lies in the manner in which Arkmind comes to appreciate life and its own place within the cosmos, something with which we all grapple. The character ‘Constance’ facilitates this process and acts as a metaphor for the human condition: in the end, with limbs or no limbs, sight or no sight, to what extent do any of us control our lives or perceive the reality of the world about us?
Finally, it is a story about death; confronting it, accepting it, overcoming fear of it – something each character achieves in his/her/its own fashion. My personal motivation here is obvious.
I wanted (needed) to write a positive tale which might leave the reader smiling, so I make no apologies for the sentimental finale. I believe a good story, even the most intellectual or esoteric, should contain an emotional payoff. Besides, you can’t beat a good, old-fashioned, happy ending…
--Niall Francis McMahon