Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Good Moment For Us Both

I got an email from a reader the other day who shared his thoughts on both The Backlist and The Short List, books I wrote with Eric Beetner, published by Down & Out Books. He told me his favorite scene in The Backlist was chapter 23.

SPOILER ALERT! I'm about to give away plot points to this novel!
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Okay, if you're still here, I assume you're okay with spoilers.

In chapter 23 of The Backlist, Bricks is on the third of the three names she has been given to assassinate. This one turns out to be an old man who she finds herself fond of, both in her distant memory as a little girl and in the moment at hand. The man, Zooker, is almost certainly autistic, but from an era and of an age that only recognizes that he's different. He knows why Bricks is there, and lets her know he's dying of cancer. She accompanies him back to his apartment, where he draws a bath and kills himself by cutting his own wrists while she waits in the other room.

Most readers will see the homage to The Godfather Part II's Frank Pentangali, and I really made no effort to hide it. In fact, on the drive to the apartment, Zooker and Bricks engage in a debate over the merits of Part I versus Part II, as we learn a little bit more about the sad, lonely life of this old man.

Here's the point:  when I wrote the scene, I saw it so clearly in my head. I heard his voice resonating from behind the closed bathroom door as he sang an old song. I heard the slosh of the bathwater, the wetness in his voice after he splashed his face. The quiet grunts of pain when he made the cut. The trailing off of his song while Bricks, just as lonely as he was, sat her vigil on the hard chair at his kitchen table. I felt the power of the emotion as I wrote it, and it is one of my favorite scenes of the book, too.

So to hear that a reader out there felt the same way about that scene, had the same emotions evoked from what happened to both characters...well, isn't that why we all write, really? To feel it ourselves, first of all, and then to make that connection with another soul who feels something as well.

That is, to my mind, a good moment for the both of us.

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