Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Laurence MacNaughton Guest Post

What Robert B. Parker Can Teach Us About Deadly Love Stories

By Laurence MacNaughton

"Most of my books are about love, in part," Robert B. Parker once said in an interview. "Very few of my books are about who stole the Maltese Falcon."

Strong words from one of top mystery authors of all time. He wrote more than 60 books in his Grand Master award-winning career. In the process, he created Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall and so many other tough-talking characters that it's hard to believe he ever once wrote about love.

Yet he did. If you look at the core of his stories, you'll notice that Robert B. Parker didn't write about crimes, he wrote about relationships. Spenser and Hawke. Everett and Virgil. Jesse and Sunny. Whether it was a romantic relationship or not, it was a one-on-one connection that defined the story and made everything else matter.

At first glance, my debut novel, Conspiracy of Angels, doesn't seem to have anything to do with love either. It has plenty of car chases, along with a global conspiracy and a purely terrifying adversary. Bullets fly. Stuff blows up. Yet over and over, I find that readers zero in not so much on the action, but on the relationships. The connections between characters.

In my book, there's an ex-con named Mitch who has lost his daughter, and a dangerous young woman named Geneva who's lost her parents. Mitch and Geneva are both wounded. Their connections have been torn away from them.

And even though the two of them begin the story faced off at gunpoint, it's their human connection that eventually heals them. One reviewer wrote: "Her bond with Mitch was my favorite part of the book. It wasn't romantic. It was something more."

If we're lucky, we've felt that bond at some point in our own lives. In a sense, our connection to others is what makes us real. We define ourselves by our relationships: parent, child, boss, worker, team member, friend, lover.

For some reason, maybe because of poor choices on my part, I've been friends with a lot of ex-cons. More than a few drug addicts. A handful of outlaw bikers.

But when you know someone, when you have a connection to them, you care about them. Even if you don't agree with their choices. Even if they break your heart. You still want to find out what happens to them. It's a basic need, to find out how the story ends.

That, I think, is why so many people come back to Robert B. Parker's books. To find out how the relationships grow and change. To find out if "The End" is really the end, or the start of something new.

If you'd like to find out more about Mitch and Geneva, come visit my author page at http://LaurenceMacNaughton.com and get the first chunk of Conspiracy of Angels for free. I think you'll find that in between the fights, chases and escapes, my book is about love, too.

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