I'm not sure that I'm giving anything away if I say that THE FRAILTY OF FLESH is a hard book for my protagonists, and one character in particular. Working on the next book in the series, one of the key things is how people are seeing this person. They're trying to figure out if the character is okay, and they're looking for some sign, some normal behaviour, some actions that reassure them that they'll have the person they know back again.

This is where life imitates art. We've been having our share of frustrations with one of the kids, who just hasn't been themselves for a while now. On the one hand, it's easy to throw these things at the door of divorce, and dealing with two radically different household environments. On the other hand, people change over time, and kids go through phases. We worry, while we're aware we can over-analyze the situation, and sometimes jump to the wrong conclusions.

Today, I could put my arm around said child and tell them I was proud of them. And it felt good to see the child I know again.

As I turn my attention back to the book, I wonder about whether or not that moment is coming for the character in question. It's actually a horrid thing, to put your characters through hell, to throw the worst things imaginable at them and force them to face that pain. I can think about things, like the review I posted yesterday, and know that the book has an impact because of the raw emotions it taps into, but it's hard to write.

Picking up the pieces of the aftermath isn't a picnic either. I think I'm hoping for that moment, when I know they'll be okay, as much as the other characters are.

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Comment by I. J. Parker on January 4, 2009 at 4:24am
The best police procedurals do that. It's real.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on January 4, 2009 at 3:08am
I completely agree. In fact, I tend to think crime novels should deal with the impact of loss or stress on human beings, because they're usually about events that put people in extreme situations, or confronting people with tragedy. When I wrote What Burns Within I wrote it with a deliberate decision to make the pace fast and intense. In part, I wanted to keep the story moving at almost break-neck speed for the first third of the novel or so, to simulate the intensity of investigating multiple arsons, rapes and child abductions. I thought if readers could understand on some level how overwhelming the situations were, they could appreciate why the police might make mistakes when forced to go-go-go. I'm not sure if I'd call that successful or not, but that was the goal.
Comment by I. J. Parker on January 4, 2009 at 1:19am
Sounds like powerful writing. I tend to keep a distance but was very pleased when my agent said she cried. There is no reason why crime novels shouldn't do what all good novels do: deal with the impact of loss or stress on human beings.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on January 3, 2009 at 2:11pm
Wow, that would make for a very interesting story line. I can just imagine how that would tear a couple apart.

Interesting you picked up on guilt. Frailty's a book with three protagonists, and all of them either start the book carrying a burden of guilt, or end it carrying that burden. When I wrote it there were scenes I literally had to go lie down, take a break, after writing, because they were so emotionally charged.
Comment by I. J. Parker on January 3, 2009 at 4:17am
Not sure just how badly your protagonist behaved, but mine is pretty much guilt-ridden for one reason and another. In the latest, both he and his wife believe he caused his son's death. I actually like to write about characters who are imperfect and struggle with guilt.

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