Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Excerpt and Author Guest Blog: Heaven Should Fall by Rebecca Coleman


Today I am the tour stop for the BookTrib tour of Heaven Should Fall by Rebecca Coleman.  Up first I have today's excerpt and I also have a guest post from author Rebecca Coleman on the development of the character of Cade in the book.  To check out the rest of the excerpts, guest posts, interviews and reviews, make sure to have a look at the main tour page at BookTrib.  The tour is going on from October 1 - 31.  My review of Heaven Should Fall is coming later today and let me tell you this is one interesting book.  Told from the point of view of several characters, it is a story that I found hard to put down, so make sure you stop by later to find out my full thoughts on this great book.


“I bet he’s dying to get off that plane,” said Cade. “It’s a fifteen-hour flight from Kabul to Baltimore. That’s a crapload of Nicorette.”

I grinned. “So if he seems really cranky, I shouldn’t assume
that’s his normal personality.”

Guest Post by Rebecca Coleman:
Cade’s takes a dramatic turn after Elias’s tragedy – can you tell us a little more about how you developed his character?

There's a certain type of guy who makes a good romantic hero: good-looking (of course), ambitious but willing to set aside quality time for the woman he loves, passionate, principled and charming-- well, you know the drill. When I go into middle schools for Career Day-- amazingly, they still let me do that after The Kingdom of Childhood-- I hold up a copy of Twilight and talk about how the two romantic heroes, Edward and Jacob, are conflations of everything women stereotypically love about men. And on the surface, Cade-- the guy who loves my protagonist, Jill, in Heaven Should Fall-- is a guy like that, too.
            But as the reader slowly discovers, a man like Cade-- one who feels things deeply, is driven to feel relevant in the world, and believes he is a notch above most people he meets-- is especially vulnerable when things don't go his way. He wants to feel in control of his world, and believes he deserves to. As he feels his influence slipping, the ability Jill once observed in him-- to "find his passion and follow the prize of it like a polestar"-- corrupts into a desperate determination to matter, at whatever cost.
            And so the "dramatic" turn that Cade takes after a crisis strikes his family is not as jarring as it first appears. He's the same guy as ever, only angry now, and with his judgment clouded by grief. This is an aspect of characterization that has long fascinated me. No real human being is entirely good or entirely evil; each person has something they want-- out of life, or out of a particular situation-- and will act, sometimes in ways that conflict with the values they profess, in the service of that goal. That's not inconsistency-- that's humanity. And so while Cade spends most of the book dismissing his brother-in-law Dodge as an ignorant redneck, when Dodge provides him with a route to his goal, the desires of Cade's ego trump his opinion of the man.
            To me, the more deeply conflicted the character, the easier they are to write. A sense of uncertainty and struggle is something I understand, while moral certainty can feel foreign and even false. Like Zach in The Kingdom of Childhood, I saw Cade as a man wrestling with the angel; it wasn't hard to get inside their heads, because in one way or another, I've been there, too. And I think that's what the writing gurus really mean when they say, "write what you know." Every time I sit down to start a new novel I must research places and people, hobbies, music and occupations. learning it all from scratch. But a protagonist who struggles between love and anger, one who means well but often stumbles-- ah. I write what I know.