Who Likes Unlikable Characters?

TheSopranos

My husband and I just finished watching the entire Sopranos series. I’m probably one of the last people on Earth to see The Sopranos, I know, but after James Gandolfini passed away, I wanted to see the show that made him a star. I wanted to see his legacy. So about a year ago, hubby-pants and I fired up HBO Go and went to town. Now, he had seen most of the series (he stopped watching for whatever reason around the fourth season), and then tuned in for the finale. As you may have figured out, I was a Sopranos virgin.

Fast forward to a few days ago when the screen went black at the end of that infamous series finale, and I had a few things to say…

First of all, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Hubby-pants tried to explain the groundbreaking nature of the show: mafia-centric, from the perspective of the criminals, big-picture that includes home and family life, etc. I’ve decided to give him this defense, especially since I’ve strived to be equally as groundbreaking with my own Blood for Blood Series (partially told from the perspective of a female serial killer while exploring her psyche). However, I do have to take issue with the number of unlikable, can’t-standable characters constantly on-screen during The Sopranos.

Tony Soprano is a pig. His infidelity is repulsive. The way he speaks to his wife, his kids, his family, and his friends is disgusting. Eww.

Carmela Soprano should be a sympathetic character because Tony cheats on her and treats her like shit, but she’s not. Why? Because all Tony has to do is buy her a fur coat, a new car, or a shiny bauble and she turns a blind eye to the mistresses, the abuse, and the overall inexcusable behavior of her husband.

Meadow and A.J. Soprano are so fake. They both straddle the line between being spoiled mob prince/princess and pretending to care about the problems and injustices of the world. Both can be silenced with the perks of being a Soprano, same as their mother.

Everybody else? Sucked. Paulie, Chris, Adriana, Janice, Junior, Livia. I could go on and on. They were all horrible people. No one had actual friends. I mean, actual, REAL friendships. Going “way back”, smiling in each other’s faces, and telling old stories while inwardly wishing each other dead or wondering if the others wish you dead is NOT a relationship.

And don’t even get me started on Tony’s shrink, Dr. Melfi, and her merry little circle of friends/fellow psychiatrists. Good grief.

But…

My darling husband brought up a good point: if the characters conjure up such hatred, but viewers continue to tune in, hat’s off to the writers, right? I fell quiet when he said this. Why? Because I can’t count how many times I’ve said this in book reviews. If I hate a character it’s most likely because the writer did their job and portrayed the individual in such a light on purpose.

As a matter of fact, when I submitted the first draft of Blood in the Past to an editor, they returned the manuscript, complaining that Jillian Atford’s character was too unlikable because of her affair with a married cop. I refused to change the character because her actions were integral to the overall story, but I added things to make her tolerable. Her foster home childhood, for example, allows readers to see that Jillian never had anything of her own, that things were always taken from her, and that she felt she deserved to be happy, regardless of the situation.

In a lot of ways, I think the writers of The Sopranos did the same with their characters. Tony Soprano was very protective of his family. Janice wouldn’t stand for a man who physically abused her. Uncle Junior slowly succumbed to Alzheimer’s. Again, I can go on and on.

In the end, I stand by my internal 3-star rating of The Sopranos for other reasons, but maybe I should lay off them for being so unlikable. Thoughts?

 

Insecurities Abound!

I’ve been pretty down in the dumps, guys. A real sophomore slump. Let me explain. My prelude novella, Blood in the Past (released this time last year), did pretty well. No one really had a bad word to say about it. I was proud of myself…and then terror set in.

Last year, as I was editing and revising the full-length follow-up to Past, Blood in the Paint, I began to worry that it wouldn’t measure up, that my creative prowess had a quota and I had used up everything in my reserve to write Blood in the Past. As a result, I hit the Publish button on Blood in the Paint a few months ago with closed eyes. I dragged my feet with the paperback edition. I haven’t sent out many review copies, and I haven’t done much promotion. I’m subconsciously forcing myself, and my Blood for Blood series, to fade into oblivion. I’m making my own nightmare, of my sophomore release not measuring up, a reality. Or am I?

When the news of Blood in the Paint’s release broke, I had an immediate spike in sales. I might have been able to capitalize on those numbers had I done some promoting. After I ordered my first shipment of Blood in the Paint paperbacks, I almost sold out of them…and I still have two events to do this week. And the reviews? The reviews have been pretty awesome. There are only nine so far (actually, as I’m writing this, a TENTH popped up!), none of which were written by me or hubby-pants, but they are all FIVE-STAR. Every single one of them. My mother-in-law, who awarded Blood in the Past with a three-star review, is raving about Paint. As is my father-in-law, who keeps asking how the next book will unfold. My niece even forgot about her “ghetto reality shows” (her words, not mine), because she’d been so caught-up in reading it. You guys don’t know my niece, but that’s probably the best compliment I could have received, short of something from Gillian Flynn herself.

So what’s the problem? Why haven’t I really written anything since April, when I went on a writing retreat, where there was nothing to do BUT write? I still feel unworthy, I still feel talentless, I still feel like everyone’s compliments are a fluke. Then I read a recent review of Blood in the Paint written by Ileandra Young. You can read the full review here, but the part I want to point out is when she mentioned a Facebook status where she posted, “Soooooooooo that feeling of inadequacy you feel while reading a fellow indie author’s novel then returning to your own WIP.” Guys, I actually remembered that status, I even Liked it because I knew the feeling. Turns out, she was talking about Blood in the Paint. Words cannot thank her enough for sharing that with her followers and blog readers and, most importantly, me. Between that and the pep talk hubby-pants gave me recently (more on that in another post, I think), I might be ready to write again. At the very least, I might be ready to begin my medico-legal research to make sure my next book, Blood in the Paper, is on the right track.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this week, which happens to be the one-year anniversary of Blood in the Past’s publication. To celebrate (and get back into promoting for the love of everything sacred and holy), Blood in the Past will be FREE on Wednesday, June 18th, and Blood in the Paint will be dropped to $1.99 today through Friday, June 20th. If you haven’t read them yet, now is the time to do so. Because, I’ve been down in the dumps and sales will make me feel better. ;-)

One of My Biggest Literary Pet Peeves Done Right

Those of you who know me in person, or know me a little better than just reading my blog from time to time, know that I’m pretty picky. This goes for books too. For example, I really love mystery/suspense/thrillers, but I really HATE (with the flames of a thousand campfires) when the main character/investigator is a civilian/layperson without even the tiniest bit of tangential experience. I’m talking about major crimes and conspiracies that are solved by bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers. And it’s not like the bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers are taking evening or online classes in law or criminology. No, they go home and watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones like the rest of us.

So, to sum up, I hate those novels.

However…I just finished reading Sister by Rosamund Lupton. And it was amazing. It was definitely the second best book I’ve read this year and probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period. And guess what? The main character, Beatrice, “investigates” her sister’s disappearance/murder and she isn’t a detective, a lawyer, or even one of those plucky reporters. In fact, she worked for a business design company, creating logos and ad copy. Why didn’t throw my Kindle across the room and take a long walk to calm my rage? Well, for one the Kindle was a gift from Hubby-pants a few years ago, but I mostly didn’t rage out because I LOVED the way the book was written. It was Beatrice’s love for and intimate knowledge of her sister that propelled her and kept her from accepting the police’s version of events. The characterization was done so well that I never questioned her lack of experience. I mean, she suspected everyone in the whole book! She looked crazy in the process! She never gave up though. And that’s what made it believable. Add in the fact that it’s formatted as though Beatrice is writing a letter to her lost sister, recapping the events that led to her finding the killer, and there’s so much to love about this story. I highly recommend you give it a read. I stumbled across it when my local library suggested it because I’d enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and they were spot on.

So, readers, do you have any literary pet peeves with exceptions? Any novels that, though they exhibit something you normally hate in a book, you ended up enjoying the novel anyway? I’d love to hear about them!

“Well-Versed in the Psychological Aspects of a Serial Killer…”

Once again, today’s title was pulled directly from a review of Blood in the Paint! This time, I have the lovely RH Ramsey to thank. Not only did she post a sensational review of my latest novel, but she also conducted a fun interview!

Here’s the full excerpt from her review:

It is apparent that the author is not only well-versed in the psychological aspects of a serial killer, but she has taken the time to study the lingo and profession of those in the field of law enforcement. This adds so many layers, makes the scenes so believable, gives the book the realistic element that can at times become lost in blood, gore, and sex — this novel delves deeper.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Do you have an recurring themes in your novels/characters? I really just try  to make readers understand the motives behind my characters’ actions. People’s lives and personalities and decisions are based on such a wide array of factors that it’s impossible for me to write a story without explaining the ‘why’ behind everything. When you explain the ‘why,’ more often than not, readers will identify more with the characters. Perhaps, not throughout the entire novel or series, but definitely at certain parts.

 

If you’ve enjoyed these snippets, please head on over to RH Ramsey’s blog to read the full interview, the full review, and even an excerpt from Blood in the Paint! And don’t forget to pick up your copy! It makes for a great weekend read!

“Riddled With Scenes That Left Me Thinking…”

No, I’m not talking about something I’ve read. The title of this post was taken directly from fellow author/blogger Richard Leonard’s recent review of Blood in the Paint! Here’s the remainder of the excerpt:

This novel is riddled with scenes that left me thinking “How on earth will he/she get out of this situation?” East does a superb job of creating realism in a world where many OMG moments occur, leaving the reader wondering what could possibly come next. And what does come next is exciting, believable, and edge-of-your-seat thrills.

 

I want to thank Richard for his glowing review, the rest of which you can read HERE!

The First Review of BLOOD IN THE PAINT is IN!!!

It has barely been a week since I sent out the ARCs of Blood in the Paint, but I’ve already received my first review. I am very thankful to Peter “Peppa” Germany for his support, his enthusiasm, and his friendship (which, by the way, he goes out of his way to mention didn’t have any bearing on his review!).

Here are some of the highpoints:

I’ve been waiting for this novel since I read it’s prequel, Blood In The Past (http://petergermany.com/2013/07/24/book-review-blood-in-the-past-by-jordanna-east/)

Now you don’t have to read the prequel novella before reading Blood In The Paint but I would recommend it. As I read Blood In The Paint I did have some moments when I said ‘Oh Sh*T!’ because I recognised something from the prequel.

Blood In The Paint is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I knocked this novel out in five days or so, I would have read it quicker but I’m a slow reader and I needed sleep. As I read through the pages I was getting more and more sucked into it, each page demanded that I turn it and when I got to the end of a chapter I couldn’t scroll the screen down quick enough to continue with the story.

The characters have a strong depth to them which is clear from the start of the novel but as you progress through it that depth is revelled and fleshed out even more. Jordanna East is not afraid to push her characters and she was able to pull me into it to the point where, despite my manliness (LMAO!), I got chocked up near the end of the novel. It takes a lot to get that sort of reaction out of me when I’m reading a book so that did impress me.

 

Although I am sorry that I made him cry, I’m utterly touched at how he continues to find my work “impressive.” To read more of Peter “Peppa” Germany’s review, click HERE.

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint will be released on March 31st!

Request an ARC of Blood in the Paint!

As I’m waiting for my final round of edits to come back to mama, before I send Blood in the Paint to my proofreader and formatter, I’m excited to announce that I am offering a limited number of eARCs to those who want to read it before the official release! (Gosh, that was a long sentence!)

Do you like thrillers and crime and psychologically messed up characters? Do you review everything you read? Like, everything? Like even the backs of cereal boxes? (As in, “I thought the ad copy on the back panel of the Cheerios could have been better worded and I didn’t like the font, either…) Then, I want to offer you an eARC in exchange for your honest review!

Please fill out the form below and you’ll hear from me soon! And if you want to know more about what you’re getting into, just visit the My Books page. The form is there as well, so you don’t have to click back and forth all over the place.

Thank you in advance for the outpouring of requests!