NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Characters. Research. Moral Ambiguity.

May is my favorite month of the year. It's a completely selfish and self-centered preference based on the fact it's my birthday month. Happy May :)

For the last two weeks, I've been doing research. One of my favorite forms of research is reading/listening to biographies and interviews of people who do similar things to what my characters do. My current hero is a secondary character in my previous Cold Justice books, but for once this isn't an FBI book.

The problem I have is my hero is part of what is a controversial part of US history--he's a CIA Intelligence Officer and started his career when the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques was the new big thing. I've been reading opinions on both sides of EIT and, frankly, there are well written arguments for both sides. There's the fact that it might go against international law and the Geneva Convention, that pain and fear might not produce reliable information, versus the fact the 'enemies' do not worry about the Geneva Convention and 'what they do to prisoners makes the black camps look like Butlins' argument. Then there's the 'what constitutes torture'? question. If interrogators do to detainees the same thing they do during SERES training, then is the US torturing its soldiers and operatives on a weekly basis? Obviously there are layers and subtleties to these issues, and not to mention the question of having the right person in custody, legal process, ticking bomb scenario, and, and...

These are my favorite things to deal with from a character development point of view--where issues of moral ambiguity meet practical considerations, but also common sense issues. It was the same thing researching the death penalty for A COLD DARK PLACE (currently free BTW). I find characters who can only see one point of view generally to be rigid and uncompromising. They make good background opposition but rarely make interesting characters we can empathize with or grow to love--unless they change/grow. Of course, having characters, especially character who are falling in love, have conflicting opinions can create the best can of tension on the written page.

I'm not going to ask what you believe in. I don't want to open up a political quagmire. My question is--have you ever learned a new appreciation of another side of an argument from reading a book? Has a story ever made you rethink your stance on a subject?

And, because I have a new release this month (COLD FEAR) I created a **FREE SAMPLER** for new readers where you can read the first three chapters of each Cold Justice story. It also contains the first 3 chapters of COLD FEAR, released May 26th (for those who can't wait to read Lincoln Frazer's story).


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4 comments:

Elise Warner said...

Look forward to reading the books, Toni. They sound fascinating. I've enlarged my way of thinking about some subjects during discussions with people I've met from other countries and states.
Happy May birthday--celebrate the entire month.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Interesting topic. I've definitely learned a lot by reading, and I'm always fascinated when I get an unexpected lesson from a fiction book. I can't go into detail about recent revelations, because they were in the Daphne books I'm judging, but I will say they were historical and I was riveted! And it did open my mind to a different point of view on something. (Wish I could say more. LOL)

Happy birth-month!! :D

Rita said...

EITs are indeed controversial with many many POVs. I've never changed my stance I do like learning where other's are coming from. I've recently learned there are too many people in this world who think their POV and experience is the only one that counts. Grrrrr.

jean harrington said...

A thought provoking question, Toni, Quickly--without delaying my response to dip into my reading past--one title does shout out: Gone With The Wind. Mitchell's take on the Civil War from the Confederate point of view was an eye-opener for a Yankee like me.

Now back to mulling over your question.

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