BOOK & BLOG
September 17, 2009
Books of the Week:
I’ve been reading a lot late; that is, even more than usual. It’s a treat to do something normal, since the very even tenor of my life has been so disrupted lately.
Re-reading BROKEN was a good idea. I really enjoy Armstrong’s books, though I like some of her characters much better than others. Elena the werewolf is my favorite, and in BROKEN Elena is pregnant, which makes her very rare indeed. Her pack Alpha, Jeremy, and her significant other, Clay, tend to hover around Elena, whose hormones are rocketing around anyway. To keep Elena from going nuts, they agree to undertake a little theft. In return for the stolen object, they’ll receive information needed to take out a rampaging werewolf who has threatened to draw attention to them with his careless murders.
The theft is that of the “from Hell” letter purportedly written by Jack the Ripper. A private collector has the letter, and a secret client wants it. The werewolves accomplish the theft, receive the promised information (the location of the rogue wolf), and though life should return to normal after this little adventure, it doesn’t, of course.
Duane Swiercznski is the writer for the Marvel Comics series “Cable.” SEVERANCE PACKAGE is his second novel, and it’s a shocker from the beginning. Told in a telegraphic style, Swiercynski’s bloody story takes place on a Saturday. David Murphy has called his employees in for a meeting, and they all bring their various agendas with them. Unbeknownst (I love that word) to them, David plans to kill them all that morning. Some of his employees are anything but helpless, and the Saturday morning takes some wildly unexpected turns.
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL is a book that’s been in my TBR pile for quite some time, and I’m sorry I didn’t read it earlier. Hawke’s first novel, published in 2006, is a private eye novel set in Manhattan. I really enjoyed this book. It had a few creaks and groans, as any first novel does, but the voice is refreshing and unique, the protagonist (Fritz Malone) is an honorable man, and the action is quick and complicated. It’s the best PI novel I’ve read in ages.
Now that most of the hoopla surrounding the premiere of “True Blood” has died down, I’m getting back into the groove of my regular life. Unfortunately, it’s easier to start up with the humdrum things I have to do rather than writing, my real job. I think I was geared up to such a pitch that I am having a hard time unwinding enough to let the creative juices flow. But they will soon.
In the meantime, I’m piddling around with a short story and planning the next Harper Connelly in my mind. The unfortunate thing about doing a lot of work in your head is that you have no proof you’re working, none at all. Mental planning is a lot like playing paper dolls; you just move characters around in your head, trying to suit their outfits to the story. Maybe in this case it would be more appropriate to say I’m trying to fit the story to Harper’s character, or decide how her character will be affected by the story’s events. There isn’t anything exact or precise about a book at this early stage. It could turn out to be almost anything.
I’ve always thought I hated making choices, yet now I see that a writer’s life consists of an endless series of choices. The only things written in stone are the things you chisel in yourself. Whose body will Harper find? Will she discover what happened to her sister? Is her sister dead or alive? If she’s dead, who killed her? What will Harper do if she finds her sister’s body? All those questions have to be answered, one by one, and the end result will be a book. But if one answer changes during the writing, all the other answers will change, too. That’s why it’s so important to make your choices carefully; a wrong decision at this stage will lead to a lot of woe (or a book that’s not so good) later on.
This is the domino vision of writing, and I find it scary as hell. You might think that the more books I have on the shelves with my name on the spine, the easier this process gets, but I’m here to tell you that’s not so. This job is hard, and frightening, and I love it more than anything.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris