The general image of loyalists is that of muscles, tattoos and sectarianism. Much, we are told, is about drug-dealing and flashy cars. Such predictable interpretations have become part of a perpetual mantra of wrong-doing and flawed behaviour.
However I have spoken to many former prisoners who, after their release, gained jobs and rebuilt their lives.
But some refuse to spend their savings on a decent car, expensive holiday, or other conspicuous signs of consumption, as so doing can lead to being quizzed by neighbours about whether such gain has been ill-gotten.
That type of situation gets to the nub of the question of what exactly is a loyalist. Is the loyalist engaged in nefarious activities the same as the loyalist who is not? The obvious answer is no.
The 'negative' loyalist is obvious - all the more so the less we recognise loyalists who swam against the tide and aimed for peace and reconciliation.
Those who have worked to stop inhuman attacks upon youth in Protestant working class areas, or who sought to ease tensions with republican communities, are in the main, invisible.
So, too, are those who de-militarised murals and who dispel the myth and allure of violence among youth. In many ways, we live in a society that displays an interest in the loyalist bad, but thinks little of the loyalist good.
As evidenced in my latest book, there are numerous examples of efforts by loyalists to challenge from within and to build relationships beyond their ranks.
One only has to think of those loyalists who worked towards the Belfast Agreement, in spite of on-going threats from other loyalists, the Canary Wharf and Thiepval bombings and the rise of Billy Wright, to detect that such persons were serious about creating a more stable future. If anything, engagement in violence taught many of its folly.
In essence, there are two loyalisms - one that is regressive and the other which aims to emancipate itself from its own de-stabilising past. To think that the latter does not criticise the former is nonsense.
We know little of loyalist thinking regarding accusations of collusion, how they felt about violence and why many work for peace-building.
A major contention is that loyalists took the war to the IRA in the late-1980s. There is no doubt that victims of loyalist violence grew between 1990 and 1994, but most of that violence was tied to particular areas and key individuals.
In fact, loyalists never 'matched' the violence that they produced in the 1970s and fewer than 6% of their victims were republican activists. Without doubt, collusion is - for loyalists - much more complex than may be assumed in the struggle over explaining the past. It is incorrect to promote the idea that all loyalists were acting, reacting and being directed in the same way.
It was in the areas in which Johnny Adair and Billy Wright operated that growths in violence were of note. Both were imprisoned for engaging in terrorist activities, but few remember that they were also expelled from their parent organisations due to their attempts to wreck the peace process.
As the book proves, far from the image of fine living on the proceeds of crime, significant numbers of loyalist ex-prisoners are suffering from poverty, trauma and depression and much of that is treated through the 'self-medication' of alcohol.
This is not to point to self-pitying testimony, but to challenge the perception that loyalists are merely criminals, or those not affected by their previous actions.
An unfortunate consequence of some 40 years of conflict and other factors, such as de-industrialisation and social mobility, has been the fascination with mocking, judging and belittling the Protestant working class.
For every stereotype there are constructive interventions led, or aided by loyalists who seek order through working with the PSNI. Contrary to myth, many Protestant working-class communities have comparatively low crime rates.
Loyalists are involved in creating employment and encouraging education and social justice. Yet they do not deny there are evident problems within loyalism.
As many loyalists state, when doing research with them, "Write it - warts and all." That sense of introspection is a key feature of those who wish to move on, but are bounded by regressive elements and a society that has insignificant interest in them.
If we wish for an end to a loyalism that is confrontational and difficult, then we must have a more sophisticated understanding of the complexities within. Those loyalists who promote positive intent must be recognised and encouraged in what they do, as they are the frontline in undermining a return to violence.
To simply remain indulged by a perception that all loyalists are bad is to miss the opportunity for meaningful societal renewal.
Negative loyalists thrive on being noticed, while 'positive' loyalists yearn for attention.
Maybe we need to prioritise the idea that loyalists can be as dissimilar to each other as they are to us.