Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Rolling Stones Hit a Royal Target

by Julie Coulter Bellon

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my little contest. The people who were closest were Rob and Janice (thanks for pointing that out, Robison). Their guess was Columbus, Ohio, and Ohio. If you two will send me your mailing address, I will be happy to send you an autographed copy of my new book, All’s Fair.

**And Melanie Goldmund, if you are reading this, I would love the link to your fanfiction. :-)

I’m a little late in posting this because I’ve been reading Traci Hunter Abramson’s new book, Royal Target. I thought I would be able to finish it and post a review, but I’m not done, so I’m going to tell you what reading this book brought to my mind.

Have you ever heard the song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” by the Rolling Stones? I first heard the song when I was watching a movie by the same name and Whoopi Goldberg was trying to help a spy by figuring out his password and Jumpin’ Jack Flash was the clue. She was in front of her tape player, (which totally dates the film. In a strange way I sort of miss tape players though) and she keeps rewinding and rewinding to see what the lyrics are so she can figure out the clue. If you’ve ever listened to the song, the lyrics that I can make out seem either very nonsensical or are so metaphorical that I can’t wrap my little brain around what they are trying to say. I can sing along to the chorus, however, so there’s a bright spot! Anyway, there’s a good beat, hence the song’s popularity. Or perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a Rolling Stones song. Either way, it’s allll rigggggght now, in fact it’s a gas. Jumpin’ Jack flash, it’s a gas gas gas.

How does this pertain you ask? Well, in writing, sometimes you have some really good beats in a story that make up for the weaknesses in the characters or plot. For example, in Twilight, I thought that Stephenie Meyer wrote the angst between Bella and Edward so well that sometimes it made up for the idiotic decisions that Bella made. The underlying tension in that book kept it going, when some of the “lyrics” didn’t make sense. The “chorus” of the Twilight series was pretty much the same, one that some could sing along to and enjoy, and one that others thought didn’t do the characters any favors since the recurring themes didn’t really allow some characters to grow and develop and experience loss and such. But the beats were there, the books were popular and it made Stephenie Meyer a household name. But that doesn't happen often. Usually, good beats aren't enough to carry an entire story. You have to have the entire package---lyrics, beat, vocals, the works.

So what does this have to do with Traci Hunter Abramson’s book? Well, sometimes you pick up a book just because you know the author’s reputation, and if the rep is good, probably the book is going to be good. Like a singer and their songs. It's not always true, but it's generally true. I own all of Traci’s books and have enjoyed them, but I thought her last one, Freefall, was particularly well written. I like her "voice" and her style of writing. Royal Target surprised me, however. As I mentioned, I’m not finished with it, but the main characters are dealing with some pretty intense outward forces. What draws me to the book, though, is the inward struggles they are having. To me, the outward struggles are the “beat” that we are going along with and we have consistently throughout the story, but it’s the internal conversations and angst that are the lyrics of the story. That is what draws her readers in, makes them care about the characters and root for their success. One situation in particular seemed to push the envelope of believability for me in Royal Target, but it was the internal back and forth with the character that made it believable and plausible, which I think is the mark of a talented writer. Traci balances both the beat and the lyrics with her author's voice and that makes it possible for her readers to move along with her and trust that they won’t have to keep rewinding and rewinding to “get it.” You definitely won’t have to wait for the chorus to “sing along” with this book. It’s one that makes you feel like you are right there, experiencing the entire “song.”

And for my final comparison to the Rolling Stones---Traci Hunter Abramson’s book will give you the “satisfaction” you’re looking for as a reader.


At 10/23/2008 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great metaphors Jules. Now I will have to go and get the book. You know I am always up for a good read.

At 10/23/2008 3:00 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Oooh, you want to read my story! *squeals and jumps up and down*

I'll send you an e-mail with the address right away.

I know what you mean about the lyrics of songs. Sometimes I hear a really catchy tune or guitar riff, and want to sing along because I'm so caught up in it, then I look up the lyrics and say, "What the smeg? This doesn't make sense!"

But I completely understand what you were trying to say about the Stephenie Meyer books, and now you've got me really excited about Royal Target. Roll on, Christmas!

At 10/23/2008 3:13 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

Awww, Julie, you're making me all warm and fuzzy inside. :) I hope you enjoy the rest of the book!


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