Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Death in Stories--Not Always Necessary, but...

Death happens in real life. And when it does, it's tragic. But that's life. You live and you die. I suppose the only time it isn't tragic is when the person who died lived a full life, and it's pretty much their time. But stories usually reflect real life, and if you have a story that was about a person who lived a full life, and died at the end of that full life, it can still be an interesting story. You usually prefer to have the main character live that full life. That is to say, if you like a character in a story, so much so that you want to read about him or her, than you would probably not want to see that character get killed. At least not before his or her time.

As for supporting characters? I would think the same thing is true. If you like a supporting character, then you won't want to see him or her killed. But if the story line is such that a character is despicable, and you have grown to despise that character, then you might applaud the events that led to the demise of that particular character.

I suppose last night's Game of Thrones episode is influencing this post. Spoiler alert if you follow that show and haven't seen it yet. But the despicable boy king of that show was killed off, and everyone was glad for that. Game of Thrones is a good show, but one of the things I didn't like about it was that it had no qualms about killing off any character. Innocent, guilty, beloved or hated. And when innocent people die, and beloved characters are killed, that is not something I personally enjoy. In fact it makes me feel lousy. And I don't watch (or read) stories to feel lousy.

But then again, in real life it happens. And like I said, stories reflect real life. Otherwise the audience won't be able to relate to them. Even in my books, characters get killed. Even a couple of beloved characters. Sure a lot of the "bad guys" get killed, too. Mostly even. But if any story coddled its beloved characters, and kept all "good guys" safe from harm, then it will become too predictable, and that is not a good thing. It will make the story uninteresting. An audience doesn't want that. Of course a story has got to be interesting. I suppose it's all about the writing.

If the writer can keep the events in his or her story believable, then whatever happens won't be dismissed as gratuitous or far-fetched, and the events will be accepted, and you move on. But if a story is going overboard, killing off beloved characters, especially the characters that you care about, then that might result in a reduced audience.

Perhaps it depends on how the story ends. If a story ends in a way that makes the audience feel better about how it all came down, then that's how it will be remembered. As a good or even great story. But if the opposite happens, meaning if the story ends on a downer, and the audience feels like crap when it's over, then that's how it will be remembered. No one wants to feel like crap. So a story that makes you feel that way is a story I don't want to have anything to do with. My books don't do that. I try to keep my stories end in a way that the readers will feel great about the characters they just read about, and great about themselves, too.

As far as Game of Thrones goes, we've already seen the unfortunate demise of some beloved characters and even some innocents. And we've seen some balance, too, with last night's demise of the boy king who was responsible for the death of one of those beloved characters. (The execution of Ned Stark.) But we'll have to wait a couple years to see how it ends.

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