Friday, January 11, 2008

Villain recognition

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: Gabriel's Ghost
Author: Linnea Sinclair
Spoiler level: low-medium

Wow, I am REALLY enjoying this book!! The characters are wonderful, the action is tight. I want to talk about one little plot aspect here that I really admired: the villain giveaway. 

I’m one of those people who pegs the villains fast. It’s a talent that impresses my husband to no end during TV shows and movies. Of course I don’t tell him who the villain is – that would ruin his fun, but being the smarty-pants show-off I am, I do coyly tell when I know.

Like any minorly awesome talent, this one can be a burden. Because it’s no fun to know the villain TOO soon. Especially in novels. Which comes down to the author’s ability to manage the readers’ perceptions.

Managing the reader's perceptions for maximum fun is something Linnea Sinclair does wonderfully well in Gabriel's Ghost. Which brings me to my great moment, which was a culmination of great moments of this book. Let me take a time-out here to stress here that Gabriel’s Ghost is NOT about a ghost, and our hero is not the dorky ghost looking figure on the cover, a worry of mine in a previous post, possibly a case of PTSD from LU.

Now about that villain! Okay I had an inkling about the identity of the villain early on but certainly not from the first or second time of “exposure” let’s say, to the character, but early enough. But then I wasn’t so sure. Then I re-suspected, but then not, due to a character I trusted not suspecting. And then it became quite plain, and then there was real evidence, but our heroine, Chaz, overlooked the evidence—understandable for the situation, though this ignorance naturally put Chaz and her hero in danger.

It’s fun knowing the villain when the hero and heroine don’t, but it’s not fun if it goes on too long. Here it went on just long enough, and then Chaz got it. It was a perfectly satisfying arc.

This book shows up on a lot of best of lists, and I can see why. It’s smart all the way through, there are larger themes treated interestingly, and the HEA has a realistic edge to it. I could see people arguing about the HEA and it would be a very enjoyable argument to have.

An exciting bit of news to the many fans of this book - a sequel, formerly entitled Chasidah's Choice, now called Shades of Dark, is coming out in July.


Brie said...

I with you in not wanting to know the villain to soon, especially way before the main characters figure it out. It bugs me also when the bad guy is too obvious. I like my villains mysterious but not blatantly apparent.

Oh, and please let them have a worthwhile motivation. Nothing bothers me more than a villain with a flimsy reason for being one.

Sarai said...

Yet another book to put in the growing TBR pile for this year! I love this author but haven't read one of her stories in a while. I guess I should jump back in.

writtenwyrdd said...

Maybe I will try this book after all. However, I just read another of Sinclair's books and was totally cheesed off about the really crappy science fiction worldbuilding (smeerps ahoy!). Once I got about 80 pages into the book, the characters and their problems sucked me in, but the beginning... Yoikes!

Linnea Sinclair said...

Well, goodness, thanks for a nice comment on a book that's been out a while. I'm tickled you enjoyed Chaz and Sully, and yeah, SHADES OF DARK will be out in July. ARCs I believe should be out by April or May (print, that is. E-ARCs are available from the author, that's me, earlier as they're on my dime, so to speak). Gabriel's was a book of my heart. It was written in about 34 intense days during which time I lost 8 pounds. Since I've gained back, oh, we won't mention how much, it was fun. ;-)

SHADES is equally as intense though I had some worries about bringing readers up to speed. Bantam refuses to put Book 2 or Sequel to on there's that issues of readers thinking it's a stand-alone. Gave me a bit of fits, yes.

Writtenwrydd, I hear you on the cheese. Not a problem. Please understand that I'm trying, along with a few other authors, to ostensibly invent a sub-genre. SF hates Romance. Romance be a-feered of SF. I'm trying hard to meld the two and make everyone just peachy but I can't always do it as well as I'd like. This year especially for a variety of reasons. You want to email me off-site, I'll go into them. Be that as it may, I'm trying hard to do something with no template. I go too far in the SF and my romance readers run screaming. I go too far in the romance and my SF readers bail. Tastes great, less filling? You know the drill. But thank you for posting and at least trying my books.

I AM a character writer. Why do I feel that necessitates an apology? But I am. I have a word count I must write to. I must allocate so many words to character, so many to world building, so many to...well, there's always a gin and tonic in need of guzzling. So that's the scoop.

Gabriel's took the RITA award, which is huge if you're not familiar with it, and that shocked the cheez-whiz out of me (I was there--ask my agent. I was sucking wind, big time). Bantam is now looking at a third book in "Gabriel's" world. So I hope to be able to have fun, gin, tonic and all.

Again, thanks for your posting. I so enjoy when I give someone a grin.

Best regards, poolside, from the Convent of the Pertpetually Confused,

Carolyn Jean said...

Thanks everybody for visiting, with a special thanks to WW and Linnea for the great discussion! I really appreciate both your thoughtful comments.

LS: Okay, the idea you wrote GG in 34 days is mind boggling to me! I really did feel the potential for the sequel at the end of GG, though not in a dissatisfied way-just that there was more excitingness to mine. Anyway, I'll be looking for the SHADES. And I'll probably discuss it the year it comes out this time!

writtenwyrdd said...

Wow, Ms. Sinclair, I feel I owe you an apology. I tossed that note off and didn't realize how I came across like a total jerk. I do think your book, "Finders Keepers" is a good romance. I think that the biggest flaw of all sf romances I've read is that the sf gets 'back of the bus' treatment. That's what was speaking, an overall irritation. And you obviously see that issue as well.

Linnea Sinclair said...

Written, you don't owe me an apology at all. Hey, if everyone liked coconut ice cream, there'd be none for me. ;-)

Melding "space opera" (and I make no claims as to writing hard SF) and romance is still something Susan Grant, Ann Aguirre, Colby Hodge, Stacey Klemstein and others--along with yours truly--are working on. I've been accused, and I stand happily accused, of writing "media SF", meaning I write in the vein of Star Wars and Star Trek. (As if there's something wrong with that and yes, I realize to purists there is). But I'm in part trying to reach readers who might not have tried SF before and I'm trying to work with models they've likely been exposed to: ST, SW, BSG etc.. There's plenty of excellent hard SF out there. Writing that is not my goal. I'm admittedly "Saturday Afternoon at the Movies" fare and that's honestly what I'm striving for. If my books give you a giggle and a gasp, then I'm good to go. ;-)

Thanks for saying FINDERS is a good romance. It may surprise you (or not) to know that several hard core SF sites stated the romance was the weakest part, but it was great space opera. So you see, I think it depends on reading preferences (and if you want links to those reviews, holler my way but you can find snippets on my site).

If I admit I started writing in Trek fan fic back in the early 80s, does that better 'splain things? ;-)

Carolyn Jean, yep, 34 grueling, husband-whining "aren't you ever coming to bed?" days. I was younger then (it was written in, oh, 2000 or so). Though for me to write until 230 AM is not unusual.

I very much encourage questions as to why I wrote something the way I did. I love to talk the craft of writing! So don't be shy in dropping me a note (I do have a Yahoo Group where you can pester me). But understand when I explain that writing books is a business--don't think for a moment it isn't. Deadlines and word count are huge pressures on a professional author. I remember one SF reviewer who wondered what "Sinclair could have done with 50,000 more words" in Games of Command (quoting from memory--don't shoot me, eh?). Well, originally GAMES was over 300,000 words in three books. Bantam wanted one book with all the stuff from the three. I cut it to 127,000 words and that was PAINFUL. ;-) And it wasn't perfect. But I did the best I could within the constraints of my "job description" (ie: deadlines, word count, etc..) I would have LOVED an additional 50,000 words to make things better. I wasn't granted that luxury. (I was also hit by a car and my father passed away in the midst of all that--yeah, that's part and parcel of being an author. You just keep writing...)

I try very hard to make each book better. I constantly study my craft, just as I did as a licensed PI for ten years, and a news reporter before that. I don't feel my writing is where I want it to be, yet. I also bow to the input from my editor who, some of you may know, is former DAW fantasy author Anne Lesley Groell.

And I listen to my readers. That why your input is valuable, positive or negative. I may or may not agree with you. But I'm always willing to discuss it. ;-)

Very truly yours, poolside, from the Convent of the Perpetually Confused, ~Linnea