Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest Post: Brooklyn James


After completing my second book, Vigilare, which is book #1 in the Vigilare trilogy, I thought I had written a detective mystery with a paranormal spin. Lo and behold, my surprise, when I kept reading reviews referring to my novel as a THRILLER. I had no idea I was that exciting!

Gabino Iglesias of the Austin Post said:
“Vigilare walks the line between a thriller and a supernatural adventure while safely anchored in a scientific discourse around blood that James put together so well that it's reminiscent of a Douglas Preston or Michael Crichton novel. With action, romance, a strong female hero and a likeable group of characters, Vigilare reads like a good action movie.”
After reading his review, I call up my Editor, and I say, “How would you classify Vigilare?”

She says, “With all of that action, twist and turns, and a cliffhanger-ending, you have a Thriller on your hands, my dear.”

With further research, I found that I did in fact write the beginnings of a Thriller trilogy, as the novel has aspects of suspense, tension and excitement. Wikipedia says, “Thrillers heavily stimulate the viewer's moods giving them a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, surprise, anxiety and/or terror.”

With renewed clarification of just exactly what my novel consisted of, my curiosity was piqued about the Thriller genre. After looking into it further, I found men have been writing and reading thrillers for years, with the name James Patterson dominating that list. The genre is relatively new as a mainstream medium for women, however there are many talented female thriller writers, such as Tami Hoag, who successfully made the jump from romance to thrillers. I always found Anne Rice be to quite thrilling, even before the term thriller became synonymous with books. One book I have on my to-read list is Jessica Fortunato's, Sin Collector. I certainly find the premise thrilling!

From what I gather, there is quite a gender discrepancy in the thriller genre, as far as what content the reading public will accept from a male versus a female writer. I get questions every now and then about my “dark side.” In my interview with Gabino Iglesias of the Austin Post, he said, “Looking at James, a stunning belle with a perpetual smile on her face, it's hard to picture what would drive her to write a novel where sexual abuse and death are two crucial and ever-present elements.”

Vigilare is set in the town of Vanguard, where Detectives Gina DeLuca and Tony Gronkowski investigate a string of murders among the city's most loathsome population, rapists and pedophiles, of which the Vigilare is most likely responsible. Vigilare, an Italian term, meaning to watch over, to look out, to protect--is a play on vigilantism. I was inspired by comic books and movies, such as Batman and The Punisher. And I do love me some Boondock Saints. Pitting evil against good, and how good can turn bad, even with the most pure of intentions.

I am an upbeat, positive individual in my personal life. I like light, love, peace and tranquility. However, when I get into writer mode, most often I enjoy allowing my mind to take me to uncomfortable places. I find fear only propels us to a deeper understanding.

In my first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me (An Amazon Breakthrough Novel Quarter Finalist), I take on themes, such as domestic abuse, alcoholism and suicide. I certainly do not take on darker subject matter with the intent to justify it or glorify it. Shocking things happen to people everyday. As a writer, I feel difficult subject matter can be delivered candidly, yet with enough finesse and tact to allow readers to transport through it (maybe on the edge of their seats...or biting their fingernails) to the other side.

To start in the darkness, allows an author to steer her words toward the light, allowing characters to come to terms with tragic things in their past, growing, evolving and coming out of it. For me, dark, intense reads allow for pivotal character development. And as a reader, I enjoy works that are more than the words on the page. Books that make me think. Books that make me question my own morality, standards and outlook. Books that leave me wondering, What would I do? If given the same set of obstacles. As a reader, I don't pay particular attention as to who is delivering the story…male or female.
“If there is something in which James excelled, it has to be the way she treated her subject matter. Scenes of attempted rape and physical violence abound, but they're always carefully and tactfully done. Instead of going for the cheap thrills and shock value, the author gently deconstructs a sad reality and unflinchingly exposes the psychological devastation that such an experience can bring.” -Austin Post
Even with such nice reviews, I receive some negative feedback every once in a blue moon. “I didn't like the language in certain scenes.” OR “Some of those scenes were hard to read.” Menacing, disturbed people are not going to talk like alter boys. And if those darker scenes didn't make you a bit uncomfortable, then I didn't do my job as a writer. I always ask if they would think as such if they had read the same scene from a male writer. This usually causes them to tilt their head and think momentarily.

Maybe it's the mixture of dark and light, hard and soft, trauma and romance, that makes it glaring. There are some questions as to whether a true thriller should include a romantic underbelly. For me, that is the redeeming quality. It's like a female heroine. She can't be concrete tough and without flaws, or the reader will not relate nor empathize. Right? I get no satisfaction out of reading a book that starts out dark, intense and at times horrifying, and ends the same way. As a reader, I have to have a resolution. Take me on a journey, even a harrowing one, but give me closure.

I'm currently reading Wodke Hawkinson's Betrayed, a perfect example of a book that keeps me turning the pages. At times, it is brutal and harrowing, but as the story plays out, it is redeeming. A nice mixture of suspense and romance, all the while intricately developing their characters and the forces that drive them.

Essentially, I write from the female perspective, with intent to tell a good story, and empower those who have come through challenging circumstances. It is not by choice that darker subjects pique my attention and weave their way into my writing. It simply is what comes out of me. It has been a most interesting journey into the thriller genre. If you may be interested in a suspenseful journey, I hope you will take into consideration my Vigilare series.

Brooklyn James is an author/singer/songwriter inspired by life in the Live Music Capital of Austin, Texas. Her first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, has an original music soundtrack and was chosen as a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Brooklyn holds an M.A. in Communication, and a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science. The Vigilare trilogy is an adaptation from a short narrative film. She is currently working on the last novel in the series, as well as another book and music soundtrack combination. All songs from the soundtracks are written/co-written and performed by the author. Listen free at her website or on Facebook

Vigilare and Vigilare: Hell Hound (Volume 2) are available now.