Saturday, February 9, 2008

Meljean’s magical game of trust

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: Demon Moon (I know, everybody is already on Demon Night)
Author: Meljean Brook
Spoiler level: medium

One of the most enchanting things about a Meljean Brook book is how the story isn’t told so much as it accumulates weight. Events move chronologically across an increasingly rich terrain of emotional truths and past events.

It’s so pleasurable, and I think it shows that Meljean Brook trusts her reader. And the reader comes to trust her. You don’t always get the full sense of what’s happening or why, but you come to know you will.

A great example of this is “What happened in Caelum,” a central event in Demon Moon that happens offstage. The pieces come together in slowly.

Now, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill slow backstory reveal, which usually annoys the living daylights out of me, because it usually feels like an author is withholding facts to increase tension. I don’t like to be toyed with, particularly not with a dramatic device.

Meljean Brook is up to something entirely different. It’s as if the forward motion of the text washes up little bits of the submerged past events and emotional truths - washes them up onto the shore. The little bits might include, oh, Colin or Savi’s intense reaction to a painting, or here’s an echo of a feeling, or a haunting visual. Another bit may be the way Colin insults Savi, or an un-inspected motivation that Savi maybe sees too late. It’s like sunken realities drive and interact with the forward events, but they also form their own story.

And the wonderful thing is that even after you get the ‘story,’ in this example, the story of what happened in Caelum, the fragments continue to wash up, intensifying the forward motion.

Here I am analyzing it, but I don’t actually see it as a technique another author could adopt, because it seems to grow naturally out of MB's fantastically complex understanding of her own characters and scenarios. And I think, a little bit of magic is in there, too.

18 comments:

Vicki said...

Hey, just wanted to let you know I posted the winners for my Pay It Forward contest today. Sarai was one of them :D

This has been so much fun to be a part of.

LesleyW said...

I still have Demon Moon to read. Must move it up my TBR pile.

lisabea said...

I tried to comment, but between my brain not working and my phone refusing to comply...well, I guess my comment went into the internets. Poof.


I've hit on the notion before as well. Meljean does expect us to work things out, to get it, to stay with her, and everything falls into place. It's lovely.

Tumperkin said...

CJ - I love your wee posts about books you are currently reading; little observations rather than reviews. Nice.

I was reading this part of DM earlier today! I'd assumed this had been dealt with in book 1 (which I haven't read - Bad Tumperkin! *slaps wrist*) so when I came upon suddenly, it was a lovely surprise.

Having struggled to get into this book at the start, I am now LOVING it!

Carolyn Jean said...

LW: yes, must move it up!

LB: I am just impressed you comment at all from your phone.

T: I'm so glad you're loving this one, and thanks for saying that about my posts. I'm never sure if they're as interesting to others as they are to me! One thing, there are apparently 2 earlier installations of this series in anthologies, which I haven't read. But as we know, my non-anthology reader status may change after I read LUST BITES!

Christine said...

It is rather wonderful the way Meljean does that, isn't it? So much talent.

Your post also reminds me of another post I read last week on MaryKate's blog about "Romance for Smart Chicks." Meljean's Guardians books are perfect examples.

MaryKate said...

Carolyn - What I appreciate most about Meljean is that her books when read alone are, as you said, revealed slowly. I love the imagery of a story accumulating weight. That's exactly right. I was thinking this morning on the Metro ride in as I was reading Demon Moon, "Well, now what?!" And sure enough, another nugget was dropped in my lap to enhance the story.

That being said, she also has this amazing website that really enhances the story too. You get more backstory and details about the world that you might have missed.

What I like most about Meljean is that at no time is she doing the work for her readers. She's laying the story down, and letting us connect the dots. I think more authors could take a page out of her book.

Oh, and Christine, thanks for the blog-pimp! 'Preesh. ;o)

Carolyn Jean said...

Christine - thanks for the comment and the heads up on a blog I'd never seen, but I totally bookmarked it.

And MK, thanks for visiting and the heads up on the backstory content on the Meljean site. I've never really poked around there. Interesting.

Yesterday I won DEMON NIGHT at bookbinge and I couldn't be more excited because I'm almost done with MOON. The one advantage to being so slow to get to books is that once I discover a series I like, there are already several of them in print or about to come out.

Christine said...

All the backstory stuff on Meljean's site... namely the Guardian Primer... is only about two or three weeks old. Great fun. Did you see the deleted scenes from Demon Moon there? OMG so funny... I was in stitches. I love Meljean's wit.

Katie(babs) said...

I just love the freaky angel/ demon/ vampire sex. LMAO

lisabea said...

Katie(babs)~ How wrong is it that I cannot WAIT for Michael's book. Speaking of angel/guardian sex.

CJ~There is reason we all squee madly for Meljean. She combines all the elements we love with this sortof HUGE graphic novel feel. I'm pro'lly making no sense, but there is a very, very unusual quality to her writing. It's almost visual.

Katie(babs) said...

Lisa, I have the feeling that Michael's story maybe the very last one to be written. And his mate should be named Kate and have red hair.

Carolyn Jean said...

Oh my god, Michael's story is next? With Michael's many special powers, I can't even imagine how that freaky angel/guardian sex would be. Maybe we need some previews.

However, K, I'm getting esp images of him with a brunette..initials CJ?

Carolyn Jean said...

LB: that graphic novel angle is an interesting thought. This is indeed a very visual series. Especially Demon Moon, with all the caelum images and paintings.

Katie(babs) said...

Carolyn, I believe there is 8 books planned in this series. Right now we are on book number 5. I think Michael's will be number 8.
Michael is my favorite out of all the characters Meljean has come up with.

Carolyn Jean said...

Okay, because of your special knowledge, you can have Michael. I think Michael would prefer a woman who is paying attention.

lisabea said...

Katie(babs) you and I are going to have words about this Michael thing. CLEARLY he is looking for a 40 something year old blondish shortish woman with newly enhanced breast powers.

I mean. Really.

Katie(babs) said...

Lisa IT IS ON! I have red hair and a killer smile.
You have me beat on the super boobs though.
So, you are now Super Lisa with boobs of steel? LOL