I’ve always found honor and integrity fascinating. The struggle to maintain either in the face of a world – ours or imaginary – that often values neither. That’s where the true conflict lies. All of my characters have to deal with that, but none so much as Elon and Jareth in The Coming Storm. Even Daran High King has his own sense of honor, and holds true to it.
It is Elon and Jareth who struggle with it the most, though. Colath, Elon’s true-friend, faces no such struggle, he simply lives both without question. There are those very rare people who do that.
Elon, though, is more complex. He understands the consequences of his actions and decisions, yet even so he fights to do the right, the honorable thing, on both a grand and a personal level. Despite everything he believes, everything his and the greater society believes, he does what he knows is right, even if there will be consequences,even at the risk of his own life.
For Jareth, honor is more personal, a moment by moment decision he has to make and it’s not always easy for him. He didn’t come from a good background, as we discover in A Convocation of Kings. For him those choices are more complicated.
It’s those decisions and the people who make them that intrigues me and its something many of my characters have to struggle with. The kind of decisions about what’s best, either on a grand scale or a smaller one.
What is it about some men and women that send them running toward danger to help or save others, and not away? That’s what interests me.
It’s not always the big, muscular “hero” types either. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at fit men as much as any other woman, but it’s not always the Alpha males that are so popular in fiction who go charging into the face of danger. Watch the news, many of the cops and firemen you see are just average people – not particularly tall or overwhelmingly muscular, just fit. (Although there are a LOT of pictures of very muscular fireman on FB).
We do have a thing in our society about physical appearance. Most people tend to think that danger comes in the form of disreputable people, which makes TV shows like Dexter believable on an entirely different level than what was intended. Dexter is a serial killer of serial killers, but he’s attractive so he has to be the good guy. The reality is that people like the man who kept three women hostage in Cleveland was that he was so ordinary in real life that no one gave a thought to him. To some extent I have to blame those line-up pictures that the news shows put up…but then again, how many of these people have time to pretty themselves up for that? What they should have shown was a picture of the man his neighbors and friends saw – not the disheveled monster.
We also have glorified the anti-hero, the person who has to be convinced to do the right thing (or the schlub who can barely do anything right).
Yet I look at the firefighters who died in AZ; or the cops, firefighters, and first responders who went up into the Towers, and I know that few of them fit those stereotypes. They did – and many still do – what was right because it was the right thing to do.
Those are the characters in my books…Whether it’s Kyriay in Song of the Fairy Queen, who decides to restore Oryan to his throne when no one would blame her if she took her people into the deep forest and let men fight among themselves. Or Ariel in Lucky Charm, who grabs a two by four when she sees three men beating up a fourth. Or Ky in Heart of the Gods, who risks his life and identity. None of them are boring, all are complex, each makes their decisions for their own reasons, and all of their books will keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat…
The Coming Storm http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004WLOBG2
Author page http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
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5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting And Sexy
“It was one of the most riveting page turners I’ve ripped through in a long time. I guess those who are a bit prudish about detailed sex episodes may be put off by this book. However, that is only a portion of this exciting story with its wonderful characters. For once an investigative work of fiction doesn’t revolve around a murder, but a disappearance, where the victim is still very much alive. I found the back story of a woman who heads up a spousal abuse rescue program very enlightening and the cast of well developed characters built around this group make for a very entertaining read also. The developing hot romance between the two main protagonists really adds some spice to an already great page turner. The description of the mountain location resort area during the Fall season with its colorful foliage also was a great addition to the story. This is one of those books that once I started it, I couldn’t put it down and finished in record time.” (thank you, sir!)
The review started out with this, though – “I’m not quite sure why so many others didn’t like this book…”
I suspect that I do.
Many people expect Independent writers to write ‘froth’ – easy to read romances and erotica (and I write those, too) or genre fiction like fantasy – and not in depth mysteries that discuss difficult subjects.
When I wrote The Last Resort I wanted to write about someone who had experienced domestic violence, not ‘survivor’ or another victim. I wanted it as a subtext to the primary story. The basic story was based on fact – a group like Carrie’s actually existed once, I don’t know if it still does. I wanted people to experience what it was like to be on all sides of the issue, in an entertaining story. It’s the only one of my books written in the first person, and it was originally intended as the first in a series of novels, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Like many of my novels, it started out as a real experience, with real people (and some not so real). I hope one day to see people coming to this book with it’s complex characters and deep storyline, looking for an entertaining mystery – and a little romance.
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In an odd way, I was lucky to grow up where I did – a resort town with a university. Time changed it, but it has been a wonderful background for some of my stories – all but the first book of The Millersburg Quartet were set there, and it was the setting for The Last Resort. In a way the town of ‘Millersburg’ becomes a character in itself. Of course, I changed the name to protect both the innocent and the guilty. (Although an old high school friend reconnected on Facebook, and she told me she recognized it.) Time has changed it, though. Most of the resorts that formed the basis for The Last Resort no longer exist. It was a real pleasure then to find an article in my local paper about some of my favorite places back ‘home’.
The farmer’s market on Main Street where Cam bought the supplies for her Saturday morning breakfasts as described in Dirty Politics and Director’s Cut was real at one time, as were the resorts where Carrie worked in The Last Resort. The Inn at Pocono Manor, where Carrie and Drew danced, still exists. (Although I did change a few pertinent details as well as the name.)
My favorite town, Jim Thorpe, was featured in two of those books, as well. A wonderful little town with Victorian accents, it was full of great shops, wonderful little restaurants, quaint little B&Bs and one of the best lounges at the Harry Packer house. I loved visiting there at Christmas when the whole town would be decorated for the holidays.
There’s no season that isn’t good there, if you want a long weekend it’s a great place to go. Some people go just for the fall colors. Winter snow turns it picturesque, and there’s plenty of skiing nearby. Spring is a great time to visit, the number of visitors is smaller so you can enjoy wandering through some of the shops. How do I know all this? Like Molly, I worked – briefly – for the Vacation Bureau.
Dirty Politics – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005318DNW
Director’s Cut – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058KRLVS
The Last Resort – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052UX3V6
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Of all my books, perhaps The Last Resort is the most conflicted. It’s also the book one of my beta readers swears is the best I’ve ever written. It’s the book that nearly won a contest, but won one of the judges’ hearts – she asked to be notified if it ever reached print. (It has!) It’s also the book that receives the most mixed reviews – primarily a complaint that too much is going on. Which I have to admit makes me laugh even as I struggle with it.
Because life is messy, and complicated, and so much of events of The Last Resort are based on reality. Events that took place almost exactly as they happen in the book, and at the same time. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Or innocent. I have to admit to being tempted to hold a contest asking readers to tell me which characters in The Last Resort are real…and which aren’t. I’m also grateful that some of the participants in those events are probably dead by now although I doubt they’d recognize themselves. People never do.
One reviewer even commented on the level of detail, objecting to a mention of the heroine raking leaves. Yet that rake shows up in a later scene. As a writer I had to explain why it was so conveniently placed there. I had to make it real.
Even the ‘rescue rangers’ are based in truth. Some time ago, I read about a woman who had organized a group of retired cops and ex-service people to help battered women escape their abusers. It was difficult and dangerous work, as they and any police officer could tell you.
I sometimes wonder if people have just seen too many Lifetime movies where the victim escapes into the arms of the one man who will love her, who will fight for her, and in the end save her from her abuser.
In real life, that just doesn’t happen. Most women who escape run to their families (where their batterers frequently find them) or live in shelters on subsistence. They have no money because their abusers made sure they had no access to any. Most are ashamed.
When they do call for help, they frequently panic immediately afterward. Many times cops become caught between the abuser and the victim, because the victim is all too aware that the laws don’t really protect her. In all likelihood her abuser will be back out on the street within hours. And looking for her. Unless she finds a shelter – most counties don’t have domestic violence shelters – he’ll very likely find her. A protection from abuse order is worth the paper it’s written on, it’s a formality that must be part of the record…but one that is almost guaranteed to infuriate the abuser – who never considers himself the bad guy. It’s shaming, and inflaming for them.
Leaving is the most dangerous time for most women, and the time when most die. One to three women in the United States daily.
So I wrote The Last Resort from my own experience, and it translated fairly easily. All the events in the book took place around the same time.
What I didn’t want to write was just another domestic violence book. I didn’t want it to be primarily about domestic violence. I wanted to write something that would be entertaining as well. I wanted the book to balance what I frequently see as a culture of constant victim-hood, with women and those around them defining themselves always by this one event for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I wanted to write about someone who would give women hope, an example of someone who had broken the chains of domestic violence. I wanted to write a book about a woman who had not only survived, but thrived and grew stronger because of it. I also wanted to show that it was possible to love and be loved again, to have a healthy relationship.
Someone like me.
Twenty percent of all the proceeds of The Last Resort will go to charities benefiting the victims of domestic violence.
Available from Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052UX3V6
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I grew up in first in the suburbs and then in the mountains, but in both I played the kind of outdoor games kids used to play. (And maybe still do in some places.) We took on the roles of characters from movies, played spies and cowboys, built forts and fought imaginary battles. Then, as now, I objected to being relegated to the ‘women’s roles’. And if you think that in this ‘year of the woman’ that there aren’t some people who want women to ‘assume the position’, then you haven’t been watching politics. Or you missed the meme with the girl with the gun walking into a rundown location with the caption – ‘she’d die if she went in there’. Would a man? What were they trying to say?
When I wrote Nike’s Wings I already knew that women were taking a more active role in the C.I.A. After all, Valerie Plame was plastered all over the headlines at the time. So it wasn’t that much of a stretch for me to imagine Nike. By then there was also Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, too, and we’ve been seeing other kick-ass women. The one thing I did object to was the emotional distance in many of those women – it seemed as if they were really just men in women’s clothing.
I wrote Nike for a number of reasons, but primarily because I wanted to illustrate that some of the dangers this country – and other countries around the world – face come from a new kind of enemy. An enemy that doesn’t have a country but an ideology – like Al Qaeda – or only greed – as in the Mexican cartels and other crime syndicates like it. It was born of something I’d read about how terrorists could enter the country via known drug routes. I wanted to illustrate that danger.
Oh, and of course, I also wanted to write a great and entertaining story…
Yes, there’s a certain amount of politics involved in it – that was inevitable. We live in times that are far more political than ideological, and in ways with which I wasn’t always comfortable.
It took the opening sequence to a James Bond movie – and I wanted Nike to be a little like Bond without the martinis and elegant clothes, but more grounded in reality – to give me Nike’s capabilities. That’s where I really noticed parkour for the first time. A little research was all that was needed, and I knew that at one time I might have been able to do some of those stunts.
From all of that Nike Tallent was born – a woman highly trained in parkour, martial arts and assassination. I also wanted her to be well-rounded and realistic, to watch her grow from the distance her circumstances and career had forced her to maintain.
I took a few hits from people – particularly and surprisingly from women ( a few men objected to the politics) – about Nike and her abilities. (Others – both women and men – cheered.)
So I was exceptionally pleased, and more than a little vindicated, to see Zero Dark Thirty hit the movie theaters to such acclaim, featuring a female CIA operative in a prominent role. Not to mention that the director of the movie was also female. It was great to see Jessica Chastain take the Golden Globe award for her role in the film.
Despite everything else, though, Nike’s Wings was a fun and challenging book to write, I hope more people get the chance to meet her.
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GHE94K
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Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005GHE94K
Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79960