Posted on April 16, 2013
Jack King could blow up half this city in the blink of an eye.
Lucky for us, he’s retired.
“By the end of this book I was fist punching the air and looking for things to fight with my epic Highlander broadsword!” – Kelly (Reading the Paranormal), Morgan Hill, CA
Jack King lives a normal life. He works at a bookstore, has a burgeoning career in photography, and a talented girlfriend. Life is good. Life is normal.
But Jack is far from normal.
Years ago, he used to put on a mask and fight crime.
“Usually when you read a book of superheroes there is an expectation of unbelievability, and yet Author Rose makes you believe.” – Leslie Ann Wright, Author, The Great Northwest
However, when Jack’s best friend (a fellow retired crime-fighter) is found murdered, Jack finds himself investigating his friend’s killer. But with enemies new and old (including his ex-girlfriend) bent on stopping him, Jack leaps head-first back into a world he ran away from – a world more complicated and dangerous than he ever knew!
Posted on July 15, 2011
So over at Civilian Reader, I just did their first-ever Author Guest Post. I feel honored. I also wanted to put the post here also so everyone can join it. Enjoy!
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We pulled into the dirty parking lot of a 7/11 in Willow Grove, PA on our way to New Jersey. My sister, who’s bladder had been secretly switched at birth with an incontinent 80-year-old woman’s, had to use the bathroom. I had forgotten to bring a book so I followed them in, hoping to find something to read.
It was 1984 and I was nine years old.
Posted on June 28, 2011
This week I finished the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. If you haven’t seen the show yet and you’re either a geek, book lover, or someone drawing breath, you need to figure out a way to see this show… because it’s amazing. The writing is top notch. The production value is that of a major motion picture (well, a good one). And the cast is amazing. The actors and actress have really thrown themselves into the characters giving us some of the best acting seen on the small screen. All in all, you can tell that everyone involved loves the material! Even HBO. They threw some serious coin at the show. And the second season only promises to be better.
Watching the show, I began to realize that I really want to be George R. R. Martin. Not because of his money or his amazing beard (seriously, the guy’s got a wicked beard). Not because he has a rabid fan following (and I mean rabid – just do a search for ” george rr martin haters” and you’ll see all the people who are pissed at him because his newest book is late) or his collection of miniatures (I have a geeky soft spot for dioramas).
I want his TV show.
To be honest, I don’t really want Game of Thrones, per se. I want a show based on my novel The Fire Inside that is as good as his. I want a show that showcases how great my novels are. Because the producers chose to stay as faithful to the novel as they could, the show only reflects how fantastic the novels really are. Through the shows’ use of this world, the plot, and the characters, we see how great Martin’s work is… perhaps even more than we might just reading the books.
Even though Martin sets his book (in the grand tradition of fantasy) in a world that is not ours, the world of The Seven Kingdom still feels like our world, just a medieval version. The Stark’s north could be Canada or parts of Scotland. Daenerys’ land in the east could be India or somewhere in Egypt. Where in most fantasy novels, the setting can seem so alien that for some readers it’s difficult to enter the world, Martin chose to give us a kingdom with parts that were like our own. He made it accessible; a way in to find common ground with his world. The show goes a long way in reinforcing that accessibility. Using costume designs, structures, and settings that evoke various places in human history, Game of Thrones opens its arms to fantasy fans and non-sci/fi viewers alike.
The show’s story plays up the strengths of Martin’s plotting. Martin is a master strategist, setting up characters like chess pieces and moves them deftly against each other. However, his moves are not always lateral and often invisible to the other chess pieces. By having many things happen simultaneously, a sense of urgency is often created only because we know what’s happening in different places. The same can be said with the show, using the various character arcs and mini-arcs to throttle the episodes along. It puts many balls up in the air but believes in the viewer enough that they can handle the various plot threads. Another thing is that it draws on the vast backstory that Martin created but doesn’t succumb to showing us that backstory over and over. It leaves mysteries to be solved at a later time.
Last, but by no means least, are the characters. It’s here that we truly see Martin’s genius. Martin took the genre of sword and sorcery fantasy and pulled the rug out of every rule that had been implemented by Tolkien years ago. In the world of George R. R. Martin, the heroes are not a wizard or a gallant knight. No, they are a whore-loving dwarf, a traitor’s headstrong daughter, the sold-as-property sister, and an arrogant bastard (really, he is) starting a new life. The ones we love the most are the characters that other authors wouldn’t touch.
The show takes that and shines. A perfect example: there’s a moment in the ninth episode when the Lannisters are about to go to war. One of our most favorite characters, Tyrion, is being sent to the front line with his band of thugs. Tyrion is handed his armor and we, the viewers, are given a scene straight out of any fantasy story of the knight putting on his armor to go off and battle. Except our knight is a dwarf. His armor is grand but small. And our knight gets knocked down the first moment he gets into battle.
But we still love him.
That is the genius of Martin’s work. We love these characters not for what they represent (the hero, the villain, the mother, the mentor) but for who they are. We love them for their many, many faults.
I want to be like George R. R. Martin. I want my own Game of Thrones.
Posted on April 19, 2011
Recently, the bookstore that I have worked at for the past 2 ½ years closed. Although I’m not completely saddened by this (Why? Because this company, in many ways, deserves its fate for crimes purported against its customers, the book industry, and, most importantly, its employees), I have found it utterly sad to watch a place I spent so much time making a wonderful place picked apart like carrion on the side of the road. Not to mention pissed off to see employees who have worked for the company for so long (one of them was just shy of 22 years) tossed aside like unwanted-but-still-functional socks. But when sadness and anger subsided, I found that I was left with something much, much worse: apathy.
Sadness and anger… well, they are manageable.
Apathy is a whole different beast.
Merriam Webster defines apathy as “having or showing little feeling or emotion.” It goes further to include “having little or no interest or concern.” Of course, how can you show any interest or have any concern for anything when you feel dead inside? All emotion and feeling has been dampened. A barrier has been placed between the ‘signals.’ A gauze over everything.
The thing about apathy, though, is that it’s not subject specific. You don’t feel apathetic to just your job. Or school. Or your relationship. You feel that way about everything. It’s like being sick and everything you eat has no taste. Everything in your life is bland.
Including your writing.
And this is the biggest kick in the crotch. Because writing is the one thing that truly gets me going, sometimes. When life is driving me nuts (kids, wife, job, parents, you name it), writing is the one thing that sets it all straight. There’s something about leaping into your emotions feet first and swimming in that raw mix while your smacking the computer’s keys that just has a way of setting everything straight. You start to see things in perspective and find your way around any impediments that your life has thrown at you. You can see why your wife is angry at you or what you’re doing that’s driving your kids crazy.
You can see.
Except, apathy, well… you don’t see anything.
That pool of emotions that you used to dive into… it’s closed for the season. Hell, they even took the diving board! So what’s a writer to do? If you can’t tap into your emotions then everything you write is going to sound off-kilter. I’ve been working on a second draft of a novel now for a few months. Right before the store closed, I had the middle part all laid out. This is how things work for me sometime: I get a strike of pure lightening that makes a thousand pieces polarized and suddenly come together, all the cut pieces fitting so perfectly. With this novel, I had this all planned out… then the crap hit the fan. I’ve been soldiering on, going through each chapter, writing what happens, moving the characters around the chess board, and getting them from A to B, but it feels weird. It feels dry and sounds like I’m trying to write in a foreign language. The characters are flat. Not boring… but passionless. Usually so full of passion (and, honestly, my main character Jack, is a man who fuels his ability to create and control fire by his emotions) they instead are robots, shambling around. Doing interesting things but… oh so bland.
So what’s a writer to do?
Many years ago, Michael Chabon (Pulitzer Prize author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and others) was working on his second novel. It was a massive book that he just couldn’t quite get finished. Basically, this frustration created writer’s block. But, Chabon had an epiphany: he would take the frustration of not being able to finish his work and write a novel about a man who was working on a massive book he couldn’t quite finish. To make art mirror life. And it worked. Wonder Boys was born and it is a wonderful book about writers, the works they create (or don’t), the shambles they make of their lives, and the way they burn so bright when they are doing what they do best: writing.
In the past, I’ve taken this lesson from Mr. Chabon and used it to fight the mythic beast called writer’s block a few times. It’s resulted in a few good stories that I was able to harness my frustration into creating good fiction. But what do you do when there’s no frustration? There’s no nothing to work with.
You write about apathy. Two days ago, I started a comic book script that I’ve been thinking about for a little while. It’s a long form tale that is connected to my first novel, The Fire Inside. The Fire Inside has a lot of back story and that back story started to take on a life of its own a few months ago. The Fire Inside’s main character, Jack, was mentored by a man named William Wilding. As I wrote a little bit about the man in the novel, I found myself making little side notes about him. He’s this fascinating character who starts as a hero, but, through the utter destruction of his life, becomes a better hero. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he becomes stronger. It’s a story I’ve really wanted to tell in comic book form but could never quite get where to begin.
But now I know.
It begins with apathy. It begins with a man who has spent the past ten years dealing with every horrible thing his city could throw at him. It begins with a man who used to champion his victims with a fiery passion finding that he cares nothing for them anymore. That he cares nothing for anything anymore. That he is dead inside.
I plan to use apathy like a tool.
And hopefully begin to feel again.