Friday, December 31, 2010

Review of "Tranquillity Initiative"

In his review of my book "Tranquillity Initiative" - which he called a "good read" (with) a really good "reveal" at the end." Jon Steel took issue with my villains as a little too much "baby killers" although he said they worked the plot along. Actually the plot wouldn't work without them, but that brings me to a chapter in my forthcoming book "What Car Would Hamlet Drive: 2000 Questions To Ask Fictional Characters."

In my fiction writing, I write in the thriller genre. In this genre it is imperative that my hero be kept in a state of immanent peril.

In "Hamlet's Car," I pose the idea that "your hero is defined by your villain." If the villain isn't strong and truly threatening, then it's hard to see your hero as truly brave or in danger. The only way to make your villain truly threatening is to have him (or them) do really bad things to other people - kill, main, torture, rape - so that when your hero faces his nemesis - or a collection of nemesis allies (villains usually have supporters or employees who are equally bad) - you fear for the hero because you understand what the villain is capable of.

During the time I was finishing the writing of "Tranquillity Initiative" I had a conversation with a woman I had known in Vermont. Her husband had returned from Iraq a very damaged man. For months he had terrorized his wife and children, keeping them virtual prisoners in their house in order to protect them from attack. "The army turned my husband into a killer," she told me. "Then they sent him home without bothering to turn him back into a civilian." I thought that was very interesting and it bore out some of my character theories.

In "Tranquillity Initiative" I needed a second stream of villains (the "baby killers") because I had seriously weakened the terrorists by giving them anthrax when they released the disease into the population. Besides which, I had made the terrorists somewhat sympathetic because I motivated them by having their families killed - "Digging through the rubble of what had remained of their homes until they had torn off their fingernails." Of course the terrorists were terrorists and behaved like terrorists but their mission was not to attack the hero, it was to attack the population of New York. So the baby killers were needed to attack the hero.

Writing is such an interesting activity - It is a never ending array of problem solving. I love doing it, learning about it, picking it apart and talking about it.

I'm grateful for Jon Steel's very interesting review. I learned from it. I look forward to the rest of the reviews that are scheduled to arrive over the next weeks and months.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I disliked "The Tourist" intensely

Watching "The Tourist" was about as exciting as watching grass grow in winter. What a waste of talent and money. Angelina Jolie looked and acted like a manikin in a store window. The best that could be said about her is she dresses up well. Her energy, or the relative lack thereof, was matched by Johnny Depp's. His quirkiness tried to come through a couple of times but it didn't add much to the film. The sound was ridiculous but at least the vocals matched the plasticity of the characters. The best that can be said was that Joli's dresses were gorgeous. The Director was an idiot.... "Let's get a little more cheese cake...." "How about another shot of Joli's ass...." They tried for a twist at the end but it was pancake flat. Don't waste your money even for the DVD or download. It's one of those films that the talent will groan about when they realize it's on their resumes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This quote from my newest review for "Tranquillity Initiative" is music to my ears. I have spent over 25 years picking away at a book on character development. I guess this will be the cover quote.

"The first big thing that hit me about this book is a specific talent that Joan has as a writer that I've rarely seen, and I've read A LOT of books. Throughout the book we're presented with several characters who have contracted the anthrax virus through one means or another. In a matter of a few short paragraphs, Joan was able to make me care about those characters. One character was presented on one mere page, but I loved her and cared about her as if she'd been a life long friend. I've been going over and over this in my mind and I still can't figure out how she did it. Even if this isn't a book you might be interested in, if you're a writer, you might consider picking up this book to learn a few hints on character creation. I'm stunned at the way that Joan has taken a mere glimpse at a person and made them someone I cared about."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Movie Studio

Amazon is promising to do for scriptwriters what it has done for book writers. In that vein I have just posted the movie version of "Tranquillity Initiative" on Amazon Studios. Life in the digital age is amazing and wonderful and exciting and replete with possibility.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More 5 Star Reviews

Five Stars on Amazon, Five Stars on Barnes and Nobel and now this excellent review on It's very exciting. Almost every day I find someone new talking about "Tranquillity Initiative."