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.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Makes a Story Worth Reading?

When you talk about why someone reads books, especially fiction, you're talking about a book that tells a great story. Good stories will usually be found in any book, but it's the great story that really makes a book worth reading. And great characters are just as important. Maybe more important.

Examples of great stories can be found in the H.G. Wells stories. Edgar Rice Burroughs also told some great stories but he was famous for at least one great character--Tarzan. When you have a great character, then it's the character that sells the book, not the story.

Another great character is James Bond. It wasn't the stories that made the Bond books sell, it was the character of James Bond. And the same thing is true for Robert E. Howard's character--Conan. But Howard was a great writer and a great story teller. He was an innovator and a poet. The Conan stories were just some of the great stories Howard wrote. And Conan was just one of his many great characters.

When it comes to my two books, I think both Killer of Killers and The Vase contain great stories. As for great characters? I would say the main character in KOK is a great character. The world's greatest martial artist has got to be up there with the Bonds and Conans. And Trent Smith is just that. He's Judan, which is the highest ranking black belt in Japanese Ju Jitsu.

But Killer of Killers is also a great story. It's not just about revenge. In fact, I don't think it's got anything to do with revenge. Vengeance, yeah, but not revenge. At least, not in the beginning of the story. You see, Trent Smith isn't after the bad guys for revenge. He's a vigilante, to be sure, but he doesn't become a "vigilante" for revenge.

Unlike Spiderman, who fought crime because his uncle was murdered, or Batman, whose parents were murdered, or Daredevil, whose father was murdered, or The Punisher, whose family was murdered, and etc, etc, etc...nobody Trent Smith knew had ever been murdered.

It's the principle that drives Trent Smith. He has values. And he's a fanatic. An extremist. In fact, after the Prologue, I reveal that right away.  Here's the first paragraph of Chapter One:

It could be said he was an extremist. Those who came to know him might even agree. To be sure, he was a man who lived for justice. At least for now. He called himself Trent Smith, and he strode the L.A. Airport with a singular purpose. A former football star was arriving tonight, and Trent planned on meeting the infamous athlete face to face.

So, I'm admitting from the get go that the main character is not just a ho hum type of character. He's an over the top fanatic about justice. And that drives him, and it drives the story from start to finish. In fact, it drives the next story, KOK's sequel, Killer Eyes even further.

Speaking of Killer Eyes, I just wrapped it up yesterday, but I'm not calling it finished. No. I've learned too many time with KOK and The Vase not to be quick on the trigger. I've been guilty with both of those books of sending them to the publisher before they were quite ready. And just because you've finished writing a book doesn't mean it's ready to be sent to the publisher.

No. I'll reread it at least twice more before I submit. But don't worry, that won't take long. Look for Killer Eyes to be ready sometime this summer.

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