Monday, January 21, 2013

What Rules Should Authors Never Break? (Chain of Command tour: Colby Marshall)

CHAIN OF COMMAND        I was introduced to Colby Marshall by blogger Sia McKye back in November and I thank her for that introduction.  This blog as most of you well know is no stranger to controversial topics.  Colby Marshall's new book Chain of Command fits into the category of controversy.  

         Colby doesn't mind controversy and she sometimes breaks a few rules.   But I'll let her tell you more about this.   Enjoy the post and be sure to check out the book trailer at the bottom of the post.

       
And now, Colby:

Hello, my name is Colby, and I have a problem with following rules.

*waits for chorus of, “Hi, Colby!”*

In thrillers and plenty of other genres, a lot of authors try their hardest to avoid controversial subjects.  My issue tends to be that there’s almost nowhere I won’t go if it pops into my head, makes the story work, and most importantly, keeps the story real.  Believe it or not, a double assassination of the president and vice president isn’t the most controversial thing I wrote in Chain of Command.  (Nope, sorry.  Can’t tell you here, but believe me, you’ll know what it is when you read it!)  Everything I do in a story, I do it for a good reason.

That said, there is one rule no thriller author should ever break unless they want their own break…in their neck.  It’s the one plot twist that can make an angry mob form outside your house at three a.m. the morning of a book release, the most avid reader attack you on Twitter, and your own grandmother not only disinherit you, but disown you all together…and legally change her name so the angry mob doesn’t come after her.
Politics?  Sexual orientation? Religion?  Nope.  As far as I know, though the Catholic Church may’ve tried to pray the Dan Brown away, that backlash was nothing compared to what happens when an author breaks the cardinal rule.

An author cannot kill a dog.

Readers might tolerate human torture, but if you put a puppy in peril, you’d better watch the outcome.  Because if that pooch goes down, so will you.  For example I met a famous female thriller writer who once killed off a canine in a book, and years later, she still hears about it from readers angry she’d do such a thing.  It actually caused some fans to swear off her books forever. They were that against reading canine cruelty happening to a pup character they’d come to love.

Other than that, thriller writers are pretty much free to explore any plot concept and push that envelope as far as they want to push it if they think they can do so and safely keep their fan bases reading. (Unless they want to skin kittens alive. That would probably be a deal breaker for some fans, too.) 
    
How about you?  In books, movies, or television is there any plot devise or character type that bothers you enough that you’ll put down the book, walk out of the movie, or turn the channel?  What line won’t you cross?  Or is anything that happens in reality fair game in entertainment?     


About the Author:

  Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby Marshall is a contributing columnist for a local magazine and a proud member of International Thriller Writers as well as Sisters in Crime.  She's active in local theatres as an actress and choreographer.  She lives in Georgia with her family where she is hard at work on her new thriller.









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25 comments:

  1. Mental note - never kill off a dog. Check!
    Congratulations, Colby.

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  2. I would have gladly shot Fred Gibson (author) and Walt Disney after watching Old Yeller.

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  3. Gotta agree on that puppy love thing.

    What a premise, the Pres and VP gone all at once. So, they're left with a Pres who was'nt technically ever elected. Imagine that ever happening. Oh, yeah, it already has.

    The book sounds interesting and WOW what a trailer.

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  4. Loved the post Colby, thanks Lee for Hosting Colby.
    As Alex said "Never kill off a dog" or any animal for that matter.

    Yvonne,

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  5. It's great to meet Colby and best wishes to her and her very busy Life!

    And I would never kill a dog or any animal in my books. Bad guys? Yes. Dogs? No way.

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  6. That's right, kill the kids and old people but don't kill the animals.

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  7. I love James Patterson but in one of the first Alex Cross books I read (not necessarily one of the first in the series), Alex was trying to reach the estranged wife before the mad killer did and instead found the family dog killed and mutilated with the wife's head replacing it's own. I closed the book and never read another in the series.

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  8. Mark Twain is one of my lodestars of writing and he killed puppies in a story, so I guess that prohibition isn't as universal as one might expect. Anything, literally "anything" that advances the story and engages the reader is fair game. At least, that's my humble opinion...

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  9. I agree with this so much, there are certain rules an author should never break. Thanks so much for dropping by to write for us as well Colby, I adore your style of writing and your book sounds like it's going to do amazingly.

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  10. Thanks, Alex!

    Em-Musing- Me, too! Anytime I see a dog in a movie, I immediately want to know up front what happens to the dog. I can't stand the trauma again!

    farawayeyes- even scarier: imagine the Speaker becoming president. One thing I find interesting is that at third in line, the general public rarely knows much about this person.

    Yvonne- I've seen the rare killing of another animal that worked out okay in a book, but usually it's some sort of wild game. Makes me wonder where exactly the line lies for folks. (As for me, I try to only kill people. That somehow doesn't sound right...)

    Stephen- well, the old saying is true to me: bad dogs aren't born. It's easy to kill bad guys, because they're flawed. Dogs are considered "innocents" for sure. (Though I'm pretty sure it was my golden retriever who ate the last piece of pizza I left out in the box on the coffee table while I went to grab a Dr. Pepper).

    L. Diane- interesting you say that, because lots of folks have issues with child in peril. I'm not really one of them just because it's reality, but some people I've found will put a book down for that reason.

    LD Masterson- I'm familiar with that book. I think it's one of the Gary Soneji ones. He was a creepy killer. Hated that scene, as well.

    Jack- I definitely think it's possible to do it, it's simply the only thing I've heard of that thriller writers will say almost across the board that they actually lose fans over (as far as controversial plotlines). I do think if you feel it moves your book forward, go for it, but unless you HAVE to do it, it's definitely a risky move.

    YeamieWaffles- thanks so much! Hope you'll come visit me sometime over at www.colbymarshall.com/blog. I have been "on tour" here lately, but I'll be popping back around there soon.

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  11. I watched the book trailer and it looks very interesting. I will keep my eyes open for it.

    Thanks for sharing your writing tips. After reading what you wrote and the comments, it has made me think about how the novel has changed in the last 100 years. How society has changed in the last 100 years. It is all very interesting.

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  12. I hope you enjoy it, Robin. Society has definitely changed over the years. One interesting thing I learned during research for my work in progress is how when they made the film adaptation of the classic thriller THE BAD SEED, the filmmakers changed the ending because they couldn't fathom a child dying in a film even if that child was evil. Your comment made me think about that some.

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  13. I remember reading a couple of gothic romances eons ago. In one, the heroine's kitten drank some milk intended for her and ended up dead from the poison in it (the ktten's name was Daffy--yes, I still remember). More disturbing was the romance where the villain hung the heroine's dog in order to terrify her. I've never been more furious at an author.

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  14. People are fascinating aren't they?

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  15. I wrote a whole novel where dogs are put to sleep. Their is redemption at the end however. Stray; http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004EYUC10

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  16. I can't believe I spelled 'there' wrong. Put me to sleep. Where's that needle?

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  17. Kat- I remember reading one of the first Women's Murder Club books and being sure I would never forgive James Patterson if something happened to Lindsay's dog, Boo. Luckily, to the point I've read, Boo is okay.

    Southpaw- sure are! The things you think will get to them never quite seem to be what actually does!

    Mark- I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the link!

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  18. In pieces of writing where the dark side of human nature is shown, it's the author's job to let the reader know which side s/he is on. For example, it would trouble me to read about violence against animals if it seems that the author is actually condoning it in some way.

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  19. Oh, and I wanted to add, good luck with your new thriller Colby. =)

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  20. My thanks to Colby for her guest spot on Tossing It Out. Colby, I wish you great success with Chain of Command. Hope you will visit here again!

    Lee

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  21. Thanks, Cynthia! I responded before, but for some reason it didn't "take"--meant to say that I definitely don't agree with authors condoning it, either. I've personally never read a book that seems to--most of the ones I've read use it as a tool to make you hate the bad guy even more. But if I ever did, I'd find the bent a bit appalling to say the least.

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  22. Thanks so much for having me, Lee! I've had a great time!

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  23. I admit it, I hate it when an animal is hurt/tortured/killed in an awful way, and it's hard to stomach certain harm to a child. They may not be deal breakers for me, but none of these are things I enjoy when reading, either.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  24. I must say, killing a dog in a book doesn't bother much. The only thing that makes me put down a book is if the violence just becomes to horrific. I can handle a little violence, but if it gets too gory I'm done. Nothing in Chain of Command got too hard to handle. :-)

    ashlee.haynie, SWAT Team Member Operation Blog Invasion

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  25. Definitely understndable, Shannon. I don't necessarily enjoy either, either. I do see why the devices can be necessary, though.

    I'm glad Chain of Command didn't give you any nightmares, Ashlee! SWAT power! :-)

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