Monday, June 22, 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Living by Patty Bryant, author of Full Circle

Full CircleTitle: Full Circle
Author: Patty Bryant
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 298
Genre: Mystery
Format: Ebook/Paperback
 Purchase at AMAZON

 It looks like someone left the door to the nether region open again, and reporter Molly Martindale has got another batch of otherworldly supplicants who need her help.

 Not long ago, Molly quite literally went to hell to help secure peace for her friend Dennis, who was born Buddy Parker in the 1920s in her beloved, adopted hometown of Oxbow, Florida. Oxbow has always felt charmed to Molly—that is, if she doesn’t count the ghostly visitors who turn her world upside down or the recent return of her ex-boyfriend Greg Richards, who brings with him the scourge of illicit drugs and a burning need to get even with her.

 Molly is working on acquainting her best friend Dana with Dennis’s memory. He is the father Dana has never known but always resented. Molly must tread carefully, all too aware that she could easily lose her best friend in the process. What’s more, things heat up when Dana meets Glenn Morrison, the wheelchair-bound veteran Molly kind of thinks of as “hers.” But soon Molly finds herself threatened from all sides, as residents of hell plead for her help yet again.

 In this sequel to Bitter Secrets, only time will tell if she can deal with worldly and supernatural problems as she fights her newest unholy foes—the advent of drugs into her world, decades of lies involving the powerful St. Claire family, and the shadows of her past.


The good, the bad and the living
I think any writer will tell you the same thing. Characters – especially the really good ones – take on a life of their own. They live and breathe. They have a pulse. They practically think for themselves. The stronger the character, the more life they have. The writer’s just along for the ride.
I have only written two novels but this perception is so strong I can’t see how it could be otherwise.
Take Buddy Parker, one of my own favorites. His story begins in my first novel, Bitter Secrets, and continues in the sequel, Full Circle.  His character is rough around the edges, in a warm but hard-bitten way. A life of hardship and loss has beaten him down but has not cost him his humanity. For me, Buddy may be the quintessential hero. Nothing slick or pat about this man. No Gregory Peck or Cary Grant would ever play him on screen. Life has been hard on him and it shows. He’s not the great guy you’d invite over to dinner or to share a round of golf. Most people cross the street rather than meet him on the sidewalk. But Buddy’s got character – deep and unseen.  His dog Lil’ Bit and a bottle have been his only friends for years, but if eyes can see below the surface, Buddy is a lost soul who’s protected himself from a thoughtless world by layers of emotional scar tissue. He’s lost his family. Twice. The second time he made the choice to walk away when he knew he could only deprive them of a normal life.
The man had guts and a very big heart.
Sure, Buddy’s a hero, all right, but only a couple the other characters that reside in my stories, and the reader, will ever know.
Now here’s a contrast for you.  Anderson St. Claire has always been provided with the good things. He’s handsome. Women love him and men respect him – or at least his stature in life. He has a loving and supportive family, money, brains, education, a gift for dealing with people.
But Anderson has lost a part of his humanity. Or maybe he just never developed it. Other humans are useful to him, they’re in his way or they’re just window dressing. Each is dealt with accordingly. As a young man he came up in Chicago, closely associated with the gangsters of the late 1920s and ‘30s.  He knows how to make money and how to use it to his advantage. The family moved to Miami in the early ‘30s where he perfected his style, then on to little Oxbow about a hundred miles away when the “heat” in Miami came too close.
Anderson is at the top of the social scale in Oxbow– a small, out of the way country town just perfect for him to play the role of benefactor and satisfy his need for social status while staying out of the limelight of bigger cities.
For me, both characters are riveting. Both are simple. Both are complex. They have traveled very different paths. They live in the same town, but not in the same world.
Good and bad cross over in life and in the writer’s mind. Sometimes they’re hard to separate.
Maybe that’s the way a good story should be. Like in the real world. The good and the bad mesh.
When a man does a good thing for a questionable reason, is he good or is he bad?

When a man does a questionable thing for a good reason, what is he?

Patty Brant honed her writing skills as a small-town newspaper reporter and editor in a rural South Florida county. Born in Canton, Ohio, she lives with her husband and daughters in Clewiston, Florida. Her first book, Bitter Secrets, earned a finalist position in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards.  

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