Review: Bad Traffick by DV Berkom — Thriller. WOOT! Got an excellent review on Awesome Indies today! Can you say STOKED?
So there I was, minding my own business writing one of those truly twisted novels that grabs hold of you and has to come out when I came to the killer’s debut. I’d never attempted to write a character quite so creepy and wasn’t relishing that first passage. In fact, I continually wrote around him, putting off the scene until I felt I could do justice to him instead of creating a killer cliché. Yes, I could have abandoned the effort and gone on to something else, but a disturbing dream I’d had several months prior provided the inspiration for the story and I felt compelled to follow it through. The result was my novel, Serial Date.
How do you write a fresh psychopath? Readers today have been clubbed over the head with serial killers (pardon the pun) to the point that it’s become a joke in many literary agencies and publishing houses. The only way I could think to do it was to go to my default: research. I love learning new things. Researching has a way of surprising you with oddball connections, often to be used in ways you’d never expect. A reference here, a notation there, it’s similar to a treasure hunt. Like I said, I love research.
Until I started to investigate killers.
Now, I haven’t lived what anyone would call a sheltered life, but I’d so far avoided learning specific details about the habits of serial killers. The information I came across in my search made my skin crawl.
Reality is so much more frightening than fiction.
The information creeped me out to the point I’d find myself vacuuming the living room, unsure how that Hoover ended up in my hand. One thing to understand about me: I don’t like housework. I’ll let dust and dirt accumulate until I can’t find the couch or someone decides to visit. Apparently, I found something I like even less.
I followed this routine whenever I delved into the bizarre world of a psychopath, and though you could eat off my living room floor, my manuscript was going nowhere. No closer to fleshing out my killer, (I know- another pun. Sorry) he wouldn’t budge from the twisted caricature of a human being I’d created and I was close to giving up. Sure, I could give him odd quirks and mannerisms, but it felt as if I was making him play dress up: all show, no substance.
That is, until I dug a little deeper and discovered the science behind the psychopath. A series of articles on NPR.org (http://n.pr/vVfWlF ) discussing the biological basis for psychopathic behavior led me ever deeper into the complexities of a killer’s mind. Fascinated, I began to read white papers on personality disorder, multiple personalities, cannibalism and the like. Where once I’d been stymied by what motivated someone to kill, an ocean of ideas began to form around what my antagonist’s early life was like, his taste in music, food, what made him tick.
Soon, I had seventeen pages of articles, notes and sketches, all revolving around my antagonist. I knew him, knew what made him get out of bed in the morning, why he chose the victims he did. Most importantly, I knew how he justified killing. That was my ‘eureka’ moment.
Understanding my antagonist helped me move past the visceral recoil from the heinous crimes I read (and wrote) about and gave a more human face to the killer. I learned there’s an entire area of scientific inquiry emerging that uses genetic testing and MRIs to map the brains and biological processes of psychopaths, on occasion admitting the results of these tests as evidence in court trials.
Whatever the answer may be, for now I can’t wait to write the killer’s scenes and try to work in some small kernel of research to help the reader understand him better. Yeah, still pretty creepy, but it worked.
Now, where the heck is that couch?
Originally posted on The Unpredictable Muse and Indies Unlimited
Interesting article from Harper’s on the scawy Google Media Barons written by John R. MacArthur. As per usual, the best part is to be found in the commentary at the end. (via Nathan Bransford’s blog)
I love to watch strong female characters in movies and read about them in books. When I was growing up, I read spy novels and watched a lot of James Bond movies. The Bond women were stunning but one-dimensional. I wanted to be the female equivalent of James Bond. I searched, but couldn’t find much in the way of this kind of female character, so I contented myself with made-up stories of women pirates and spies. Fast-forward to 2012. Everywhere you look, there are more and more strong, capable and kick-a** women.
I am so stoked.
When I wrote the first novella in my bestselling Kate Jones thriller series, Bad Spirits, I wanted to be sure to make the heroine tough, but I also wanted her to be flawed. She gains in her understanding of herself throughout the series and learns to trust, as well as take care of herself in dangerous situations. I have heard from as many male readers of the series as I have female, and consider that a compliment in so many ways. The fact that men enjoy a strong woman protagonist as much as women do speaks volumes about the shift in our society and the acceptance of strong, capable women.
In my novel, Serial Date, I consciously chose to make the heroine as capable and badass as possible, and she has a ton of flaws. I’d always wanted to write a book about a female assassin, and chose to have Leine Basso, the heroine of the book, opt-out of the business by choice and ‘retire’. When Leine’s estranged daughter is abducted by a man claiming to be a serial killer, she’s forced to rely on old skills to find her, and must come to terms with who she really is. The second novel in the series, Bad Traffick, shows more of Leine’s badassity when she works to rescue twelve-year-old Mara from the hands of ruthless sex traffickers.
Below is a list of my Top 10 Kick-A** Women in Movies. The list is by no means exhaustive—in fact, I came up with 25 off the top of my head, but this is a blog post, not an epic J. I also didn’t include the many television characters who have contributed so much to female kick-assity.
And now, for the Top 10 Kick-A** Women in Movies (In alphabetical order)
- Captain Niobe – The Matrix Reloaded (Jada Pinkett-Smith) Awesome, competent, resilient and fierce. I definitely want her in my corner.
- Captain Trudy Chacon – Avatar (Michelle Rodriguez) I totally love Michelle Rodriguez and the women she portrays. Captain Trudy Chacon is one of the many characters she plays so well with a gnarly kick-butt attitude.
- Carolina – Once Upon a Time in Mexico (Salma Hayek) If Salma Hayek isn’t the whole package, I don’t know who is. She’s gorgeous-sexy, intelligent and can wield a machine gun like a pro.
- Evelyn Salt – Salt (Angelina Jolie) Say what you like about Angelina Jolie– I adore her willingness to take on the roles she does. She takes her image seriously when it comes to the message being sent to young women and I applaud her. Go, Angelina!
- Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games (Jennifer Lawrence) The character of Katniss tapped into the powerful belief that a person can win through effort, perseverance and ability. The awesomeness of this story is that she’s also a young woman.
- Mallory Kane – Haywire (Gina Carano) When I watched this movie I was struck by the pure physicality of Gina Carano in the lead role of Mallory. She’s all woman with sex appeal to burn, knows her way around a firearm and totally owns her power. So refreshing.
- Ripley – Alien (Sigourney Weaver) What can I say? Sigourney Weaver is a total badass when she comes up against a freaking alien. Scifi/Fantasy delivers its share of kick-butt women, and Ripley’s an all-time favorite.
- The Bride – Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2 (Uma Thurman) OMG. I love these movies. Uma’s character has more determination than an army of Visigoths.
- Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do with It? (Angela Bassett) Yes, Ms. Turner is a real person, not a character, but her tenacity and grace are so inspiring, I think she’s a kick-a** woman bar none and I had to include her. (Besides, Angela Bassett was amazing in the movie!)
- Trinity – The Matrix Reloaded (Carrie-Anne Moss) How can you have a top list of kick-a** women without Trinity? Great emotional control and she knows her weaponry.
How about you? Which strong women characters do you love to see on the screen?
Are your books not selling as well as you want them to? Read this post by Martin Crosbie. There’s some fabulous information in here:
Today I’m blogging on Indies Unlimited about writing from the opposite sex’s POV. Stop on by!
In perusing the interwebz in order to promote an upcoming free day on Amazon for Bad Traffick, I came across several more places that you can list your book for free. Some also offer guaranteed placement for a nominal fee. I’ve decided to use both paid and free sites, and I’ll write a post on my results after the promotion runs on January 19. In the mean time, here are some of the sites I found: (as with all listing sites, MAKE SURE your book is actually going to be free on the day you list)
Ask David This is a cool site I discovered that has you list your book, website, social media links, book trailer, etc. all for a simple link-back to the site. You don’t even have to do that, but it will take a bit longer for your book to show up. And really, isn’t helping those who help you what it’s all about?
Free Kindle Books and Tips This is a site run by Michael Gallagher who is a Top 10 Reviewer for Amazon. He reviewed Bad Spirits and listed the freebie on his site a while back and my downloads increased significantly. At first I had no idea who he was (I had submitted to several free sites and didn’t realize he ran FKBooks&Tips), but a bunch of folks (145+) clicked on his review as helpful, and I quickly realized how lucky I was to have him review the book.
The Frugal E-Reader This is a popular site that lists Kindle books under $9 and has some inexpensive promo options.
The Author Marketing Club I just joined this site, and from what I’ve seen, it’s full of great ways to promote your book. Hmmm. Possibly a post for the future on the results I get from posting my book for review…You have to sign up, but it’s free.
Indie Book Promo This site has both paid and free options for promo. Haven’t used this one before, but am going to for the 1/19 free day. We’ll see what happens. I’ve heard good things.
Pixel of Ink One of the biggest and most-used sites.
EReader News Today I’ve had stellar luck with these guys. Don’t be afraid to show ’em some luv if they post your book.
There are too many of these sites to list here, but these are a great start. Good luck on all things promo!