Still at the con! Maybe I posted 20 times yesterday, maybe I didn’t! Either way, have another guest post. Jette Harris is the author of COLOSSUS, and made the mistake of asking for advice on Twitter about how to sell more books. Ten minutes later, she had to write a guest post. Ha!
A slight warning: the cover and the subject matter of COLOSSUS could potentially be triggery. Author’s smiling, pre-nuptial face therefore included first.
As an adolescent, I was always attracted to the dark side of fiction: My favorite movie was The Wall and TV show was The Maxx (You actually see a lot of Mr. Gone in my antagonist, and a little of Julie Winters in the protagonist). The topics that could bring me to tears in real life are enthralling in fiction (although they bring me to tears in fiction as well). When I started writing, my content was no different, exploring the demons – literally and figuratively, sometimes even both – that haunt humanity and manipulate people’s actions.
Here is the difficult part: Writing a description that entices readers and does justice to the novel in a short amount of space…
COLOSSUS is the nickname four young adults call the man who has abducted them. Although initially in a position of trust, Avery Rhodes reveals himself to be capable of unimaginable cruelty, both physically and psychologically, to amuse himself and punish missteps. Each of the hostages must navigate their intertwined histories in order to maintain their sanity and attempt to survive. Before the end they all learn, including Rhodes, that they are in over their heads, with far more than just their lives at stake. COLOSSUS is the first book of the My Name Is Not Heather Stokes series.
I had a vivid image of the over-arching plot, which was supposed to take the form of several short stories. That didn’t happen, obviously. COLOSSUS was actually the last story I came up with before I buckled down to write, and before long presented itself as three separate novels: COLOSSUS, Two Guns, and RUIN (inside the house, outside the house, and after the house). The content as it played out in my mind was horrific, and it began to far more horrific than what readers will encounter. Two things dialed it down:
- Some things I just didn’t want to write. I didn’t want Avery Rhodes to be Professor Umbridge; I wanted readers who usually root for the bad guy to be willing to root for him.
- Absolute evil is absolutely unrealistic. Rhodes began as a flat, sociopathic, emotionally-controlled character, with one goal in mind. In uncovering why he developed that goal (you don’t discover that until RUIN), and why he is the way he is, he became the opposite in several ways: He became an emotionally- and psychologically-complex character who believes he can control his emotions, but in reality causes far more damage (to himself and others) than good (for himself).
Despite this, I’ve only had two readers (out of several) who could not finish it. Many others wished they could put it down, but were too invested in the characters to give up on them (If I can do anything right, it’s well-rounded engaging characters). Whether they finished or not, they all reported enjoying what they read. I recommend taking the risk and letting me know what you think!
Jette Harris was born and raised in the greater metro-Atlanta area, where she lives with her husband and their pets (dog, cat, and four snakes). She graduated from Mercer University in ’08 with a BA in English Literature and German Language & Literature, and a certificate for teaching secondary Language Arts. After three years of teaching, she ran away screaming with her hands over her head. She is now happy to sit at a desk, surrounded by other geeks, answering phones, and writing while she thinks her boss isn’t looking.