Today I’m welcoming back author, Gerrie Ferris Finger.
Gerrie Ferris Finger won The Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Minotaur Best First Traditional Novel for THE END GAME, published by St. Martin’s on April 27, 2010. The second in the series, THE LAST TEMPTATION, was released July 2012 from Five Star. Five Star also released the third in the series, THE DEVIL LAUGHED, in 2013.
Gerrie grew up in Missouri then went South to write for The Atlanta Constitution. She traveled the Tobacco Roads of Georgia and Alabama and the narrow, historic streets of New Orleans. She wrote about Natchez, Mississippi’s unique history, Florida’s diverse population, and the Outer Banks struggle to keep light houses from toppling into the sea. Visits to Cape Hatteras resulted in her historical paranormal, THE GHOST SHIP.
WHISPERING, a romance, is set on one of Georgia’s barrier islands.
Three books in the Laura Kate O’Connell Plantation Series were set in southwest Georgia’s plantation region. They are: WHEN SERPENTS DIE, HONORED DAUGHTERS and WAGON DOGS.
MERCILESS is the first in her novella series. HEARTLESS is the second.
How Fiction Explores Personal and Moral Questions.
I’ve been thinking about how fiction explores personal and moral questions. In other words the characters’ character. Critics, reviewers and readers quickly pick up on lack of character development. And are quick to tell us so.
If protagonists don’t show pluck and have a set of morals, readers will put aside the story before it begins to bore completely. Sometimes it’s easier and more fun to create antagonists to play bad guy in order to foil the convictions and actions of the heroes and heroines. This back and forth throughout the plot keeps a reader turning pages. The little showdowns and then the denouement showing convictions in action, creates tension—in real life and in its fictional counterpart.
Lack of personal character is evident often at page one because the characters themselves lay on the page like paper dolls. (This is also likely by “telling” not “showing” the characters in thought and in action, but I digress). By page ten there had better be some backbone in the protags. Giving them great names and listing their hair and eye color is all good, but from the jump they need attitudes and opinions shown in their interactions. Take a by-the-book judge who comes up against a delinquent teenager boy that makes him reminisce for his dead son. When personal positions come up against an opposing dilemma, what’s the character to do? The judge can stick to his mind-set, or he can cave and live with the outcome played out in the fictional plot. Where there’s the hope of redemption, there’s also the reality of regret.
In an old story, “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, Sylvia, a young girl, is devoted to birds and animals. Then she meets and falls for a male ornithologist. She has to make an ethical decision about her beliefs and loyalties when the young man wants to kill and stuff the rare bird. Jewett resolves the conflict beautifully.
Genre will influence the attitudes your characters have and the actions they take. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense explore fairness and fists. Even plots are devised around justice for the good. The very idea of certain plots present moral dilemmas. Some people find serial killer plots personally repugnant. I don’t necessarily care to be in a killer’s head. We know his monstrous deeds by the resolve of those fighters-against-evil who go after him/her.
In other plots, murder changes everyone’s attitudes. In Val McDermid’s, A Place of Execution, certain judgments enacted impact the morals of all other characters—cops, citizens, etc.—kept hidden for thirty-five years. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, on the other hand, has no problem handling miscreants. His code is to wipe them out wherever and whenever he meets them. We like Jack Reacher for his inflexible moral posture.
Love, romance and relationship stories contain themes of loyalty and betrayal. Is it right and moral to tell the truth and possibly ruin your relationship? What if the would-be groom goes out on his last night free and meets up with a girl friend of both he and his fiancé? They have a one-night stand which leaves him feeling guilty. Should he tell his bride the truth because they’ve vowed never to keep secrets from one another? Or not, and hope the girlfriend keeps her mouth shut for the rest of their lives? Or a tale of two lovers: the woman wants a child, but the man does not. She’s pregnant.
Fantasy, myth and science fiction explore issues of consciousness, humanity and self-awareness. Is the environment ours to do with as we please? Should animals, computers, trees have the same rights as humans? Do we, in fact, have free will? A vampire swears he will not bite an adolescent, but one girl wants to become a vampire and live forever. He’d like her to be with him forever, but vampire life isn’t always that great.
Whatever the plot, make your characters interact within their personal and moral codes.
Gerrie Ferris Finger
AMERICAN NIGHTS – 6th in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake thriller series.
Saudi Arabian prince Husam al Saliba hires Moriah Dru, a PI specializing in
tracing missing children, to find his missing wife, NASA scientist Reeve
Cresley, and daughter, Shahrazad (Shara). The prince strikes Dru as charming but
not believable, and his tale of falling in love with Reeve, turning his back on
his kingdom for the woman he loves, and his king’s disapproval of him marrying
sounds like a fairy tale. After all the prince is known to be a great
storyteller and is partial to reciting tales from the Arabian Nights. The
investigation has just begun when Reeve’s parents, Lowell and Donna Cresley, who
did not seem suitably disturbed that Reeve and Shara are missing, are killed.
Dru soon discovers that nobody in this tale is what they seem. Then she finds
out all have something dreadful to hide.
The villains always know where they stand with Dru and Lake.
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