Book: Her Name is Mercie Author: Chris Roy Publisher: Near to the Knuckle Publishing Availability: Amazon Author Website and Social Media: Unjust Element Twitter Facebook GoodReads Overall Rating 4.5 Stars Overall Summary: Her Name is Mercie is a collection of short stories written by Chris Roy and illustrated by Craig Douglas. The stories include the…
A hero is only as good as their enemy. One of the criticisms levelled at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is its lack of decent villains. We’re yet to see how Thanos will turn out, but over the previous decade of movies that have been released, seemingly only two spring to mind as having been praised.…
Richard Godwin. ©
‘It is there always there deep inside me, my companion, my host, my parasite, my lover more demon than mistress, and then the dark dark conjurings. For what manner of love is there betwixt a man and a woman? Is it love is it that thing the name by which it is called? Or is it something else, some primal thing that hides in the word lies.’
[Extracts from patient 1, as entered by Dr. Malice.]
What is a villain I say? He is a man who does not heed moral compulsions, who achieves what he durst with no recourse to any need for justification, is he bad, or is he other?
Think of the Bankoff’s conundrum. I do not have a wife called Dorothy.
(And if perchance as here I slip into an archaic vernacular, well, reader, you know full well the reasons for that.)
I am not a madman.
Voice 1: I am the voice of God and I summon him to kill on my behalf, for vengeance is mine. I will ask him to slay them, yeah slay them all.
Voice 2: I am the voice of the Other God, the real God for there is no truer than me, and I decide the fate of mankind in the furnace of my hatred, deep as it is.
In a series of articles about the trial of Adolph Eichmann written for The New Yorker in 1961, and later turned into a book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, the political philosopher Hannah Arendt addressed the nature of evil. Arendt argued that evil deeds are not exclusively the work of monsters, mad men and psychopaths; to the contrary, evil is most often perpetrated by ordinary people acting out of their own unenlightened self-interest and with no consideration of the general good. Her case in point was Eichmann, a thin, bespectacled, middle-aged man with bad teeth and a receding hairline who organized the mass deportation of Jews and other “undesirables” to extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, but maintained that he was simply following orders. Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the provincial mindset that allows seemingly “normal” individuals like Adolph Eichmann to kill.
The literary critic Stephen Knight has used the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe a species of crime fiction, one typified by the crime novels of Patricia Highsmith, most particularly The Talented Mr. Ripley and the four succeeding novels featuring Ripley as criminal hero. For Knight, Highsmith’s Ripley novels invite readers to recognize themselves in the action and behavior of the engagingly likable but completely amoral Tom Ripley, and stand in sharp contrast to the Agatha Christie-esque notion that murderers are essentially evil.
Question #1: What (or possibly who, if any) inspired the character of Ben Benjamin in your Psi-Tech Universe?
There are three books in the Psi-Tech trilogy: EMPIRE OF DUST / CROSSWAYS / NIMBUS. With the release of NIMBUS on 3rd October 2017, the trilogy is complete.
Reska (Ben) Benjamin is one of two main characters. He’s a psi-tech – implanted with telepath technology – and he specialises in navigating foldspace. Where the character came from is a complicated question. I don’t think he’s derived from any one person or source. He evolved over the course of writing the first book (a process that took many years and went through many revisions before getting to the publication stage). He’s been a cop – a space cop – which means he’s tough. Tough but fair; strong but kind. He’ll never let his team down or leave anyone behind. He’ll defend his ‘tribe’ to the end. But just because he’ll be charming to your granny doesn’t mean he’s weak.
It’s difficult to write a nice/noble/good character unless you give him some flaws, however, so Ben has flaws a-plenty, though depending on your perspective some of his flaws are actually strengths. He won’t start a fight, but he’s single-minded when it comes to finishing one – perhaps too single-minded, too stubborn, too dogged on occasions. He believes in justice even if achieving it means breaking the law. He has White Knight syndrome. He’ll be the first to try to help someone in trouble which means that he takes on too much, and trusts too easily. He’s not completely naive, but he does tend to believe the best of people. Of course, this sometimes brings out the best in them, too, Jake Lowenbrun for instance, who turns out to be one of the good guys partly because Ben believes he can be. On the other hand, there’s Kitty…
An incident that happens in CROSSWAYS leaves Ben with a form of PTSD, which carries through to the new novel, NIMBUS. Sometimes when you look into foldspace, foldspace looks back, and there are things there that don’t exist…except when they do. It leads to a love-hate relationship with flying the Folds. It’s his passion, but he’s afraid of it. He’s seen things in foldspace that have broken weaker men, but he’s survived, and through sheer determination, he’s still flying.
So where did he come from? He’s Han Solo on the day he decides to be Luke’s wingman against the Death Star. He’s Picard when he faces the Borg again after he’s been Locutus. He’s the Ninth Doctor when he sees the Dalek imprisoned in the basement. He’s the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dam. He’s Kyle Carpenter on the day he threw himself onto a grenade to save his friend. He’s Yuri Gagarin, on that first space flight. He’s Toussaint Louverture trying to keep his people free.
Question #2: The Psi-tech world is pretty involved and detailed in this series. Why did you want to create such an in-depth universe?
If you’re writing a short story you can get away without too much world-building, but once you head into novel territory, especially a novel that’s 171,000 words long your characters need a well-defined world/universe to play in. Every story has to have its own internal logic. Whatever you create at the beginning has to be sustainable not only for the first book but for the second and third, too. The internal logic has to support over half a million words. You have to think about not only technology but also about geology and economics. You need to build a history that forms a sensible backstory. Though it’s barely mentioned in the novels, I created a whole history of the five hundred years between now and when EMPIRE OF DUST starts. It includes the invention and development of the jump gate system and the subsequent growth of the megacorporations. After mankind established colonies the earth was devastated by an inbound meteor on a collision course. Though the meteor was broken up in space, three chunks of meteorite hit, causing sea levels to rise, and a ‘nuclear’ winter. It knocked the USA and China off the superpower map completely and enabled Africa and Europe to rise during the rebuilding phase. The future is not the expected American or Chinese one.
Out in the depths of space, there are jump gate hubs, owned by the megacorps. Crossways was one such until it fought for its independence a century ago and is now a refuge for career criminals, eccentrics and the flotsam and jetsam of the space-lanes. It becomes home to Ben Benjamin, Cara Carlinni, and the Free Company in the second novel, CROSSWAYS.
1. You don’t need to ask permission.
I’ve always been a reader. I thought about writing something of my own, most often while reading stories or books that were poorly written, but for decades I didn’t. Once I got around to it, I realized I’d been waiting for someone or something to tell me that I was allowed to try. I didn’t need to wait.
2. Writing is hard.
A piece of published writing is one-way communication – the reader can’t ask follow-up questions. You have to do more than come up with a cool story and put it on paper. Good writing will make that story just as clear and fun for the reader as it is for the writer. The fun will be missing if the writing is weak.
3. Don’t worry if it’s bad at first.
Like any other activity worth pursuing, writing is a skill that needs to be developed. It takes practice. When we start, we may know what it is we want to achieve, but our skills aren’t up to it, yet. You should keep going – keep reading, keep writing. Revise. Don’t be discouraged. Find people nearby who write and talk to them about it. Read their stuff. When you’re ready, ask them to look at yours. Keep writing. Revise. Take some courses. Get into a writer’s group. Keep writing. Revise. Your stuff will get better.
I used to think that you built a story as you wrote it. This was wrong. I’ve since learned that building a story is a thing in itself that has little to do with writing. Stories have defined components, certain ingredients that are required, big scenes that happen in certain places. It wasn’t until I knew the fundamentals of building a story that I was successful at writing a novel.
These days I spend a lot of time turning scenes over in my head while driving, listening to music. In the evening, I jot down some notes about the scenes I dreamt up earlier in the day on a notecard and pin it to my corkboard. I move the scenes around, making sure the big scenes hit at the right points in the story. I note out the sequences that connect the scenes. It’s not until I have the story built that I begin writing it.
Two – A strong story will work no matter who tells it.
I don’t consider myself a talented writer. There, I’ve said it. And it’s true – I don’t. I do, however, consider myself a better-than-average story builder. Here’s the thing – a good story will overcome mediocre writing. Stories can be written as songs, novels, poems, you name it, and we all love the stories that work.
Some of my favorite movies won’t be found in the Criterion Collection. Why? Because they don’t break ground cinematically. But they are my favorites because I love the stories they tell. Have you ever read the latest release from a best-selling novelist, one you’ve looked forward to, maybe pre-ordered, only to find that you were a little let down by the story? Maybe the writing was as excellent as you’d come to expect from this author, but the book didn’t end well, or the pacing was off. My theory is this: It takes a tremendous talent to tell a mediocre story in a captivating way. On the other hand, if the story is great, it almost doesn’t matter who tells it.
This is why I spend time getting the story right up front because I know my writing skills are pretty basic. But basic skills are good enough for an exceptional story, especially if you don’t want your flowery prose getting in the way of what’s going on.
Greetings, Everyone! Since I’ve managed to get some wonderful guest post contributions over the years, I decided to go to the well again and see what I could get. And you ladies and gentlemen certainly didn’t disappoint! So, starting in April, we’re featuring a new guest post on every Friday that follows the theme of…
Overall Summary: When Nate’s friend and colleague dies in an accident after replacing Nate on a business trip, Nate is determined to make amends with his family and gain some sort of atonement. He offers to help out his friend’s sister, Jordan, who is busy raising a pair of twins and running a cafe. As their…
Gilda stood at the bottom of the stairs with fists planted on hips and forced a furious furrow onto her smooth brow. “For goodness sake, Beatrice, haven’t you changed yet? We have to get going soon!”
“I know, I know. Sorry, I was just finishing my book.”
“It’s Friday night. Read tomorrow. Read during the week. Just don’t read on Friday night. Bookworm!”
Beatrice shook her head. “What’s a bookworm?”
“It’s someone who’s always reading.”
“But a worm? I mean, what’s that about? How can a worm live in an e-reader?”
They stared at each other, from the landing to the bottom of the stairs. “Ohhhh! You’re jiving me again, aren’t you?” Gilda knew full well that Beatrice didn’t completely share her excitement for the party scene. Beatrice was a shy (but not with Gilda), quiet thing that could live a full existence in her room with her e-books and her imagination. She was also, in Gilda’s humble opinion, the most drop-dead gorgeous creature in the entire universe. Still, even the pinnacle of beauty can try a girl’s patience every once in a while. In fact, it was pretty much <em>de rigueur</em>. “So, have you even decided on the color yet?”