Wecome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome David Rheem Jarret who stops by today to talk about his novel Last Straw, a thriller filled with crime and suspense. David admits the main characters is actually “an anti-hero who some readers will actually see as the protagonist, even though some of the crimes he commits are heinous.” Add two young police officers–an intelligent, sensitive male and a strong, attractive female–who must not only deal with catching him, but also with their own steadily increasing attraction to one another to throw some romance into the mix. It all sounds exciting, but I’ll let David talk about himself and the book. Welcome, David!
The Writing Life and the Last Straw by David Rheem Jarrett
I discovered my voice as a writer while in high school but was not able to call myself an author until June of 2014 when I published Last Straw. I have no writing rituals, although my favorite time to write is two hours in the morning during what I call my quiet time. This time is after I’ve brought my wife coffee in bed, had a couple cups myself, and read all the current news and mail on the computer. Once this quiet time is over and the events of the day begin, there’s no point in trying to write.
I have no illusions about being a great writer, although I believe I use the English language well, and my vocabulary is fairly extensive. I try to avoid clichés and use language that is perhaps more sophisticated than others in my genre. I try to create plots that are believable – things that could actually happen in today’s world – and characters that are believable also – no superheroes jumping buildings in a single bound or dispatching entire groups of bad guys singlehandedly. My stories are usually “morality plays” in which good triumphs over evil. Even in Last Straw, even though I identify and sympathize with my anti-hero, he has to lose in the end.
The two authors who have most influenced my writing are John Sandford and Michael Connelly. They both write gritty crime/police procedural thrillers, and they write their stories with great realism and accuracy. One of my pet peeves as a reader is reading a crime/thriller/suspense novel involving firearms in which the author obviously has no real knowledge of them.
My current work in progress involves a rather complicated scenario. It is also a thriller of sorts, but not what I would all a classic one. A man and his wife, fed up with life in the city, retire early and move to a remote rural area of California where they own property. A Native American Vietnam veteran, feeling he has not lived up to his heritage, moves to the same area and tries to live in the woods alone in order to experience the lifestyle of his ancestors and perhaps vindicate himself, at least in his own eyes. The actions of these characters are often seen through the eyes of a great bear, a character in its own right, that the Indian saves from a poacher’s trap early in his odyssey. There is political intrigue as the local power company uses a nefarious scheme to coerce the county commissioners to vote to dam the river on which the ranchers depend in order to create a recreational area and power plant. In addition, there is constant tension between the city man and the perverted poacher, who hates him and covets his wife. As of now, the book is too long and needs to be cut somewhat, and I am in the process of editing. It is a very ambitious project and may need to be longer than planned in order to be able to tell the whole story. As yet, I have no title for this WIP.
I chose to write Last Straw because of the shenanigans being pulled by members of the financial community during the lead-up to the Great Recession in the United States. An enormous number of people, myself included, got hurt because of their actions, and I felt compelled to write about one fictional person’s response.
My favorite character is Thomas Pickering. He is a product of the school of hard knocks. He is not a young pretty-boy and has character flaws. However, he is smart; he is tough; and he believes as I do in “an eye for an eye.”
I use third person omniscient past tense in all my writing. I detest the use of first person or third person limited, as neither has the ability to show the reader the thoughts and feelings of each character. I use italics to describe these inner thoughts, and though some do not like this technique, I do, and as long as the italicized passages are not too long, I believe them not to be objectionable to the reader. I never use present tense narration as I think it sounds stupid.
As far as bad reviews are concerned, not everyone is going to like every book. You are going to get a bad review now and then. They are usually emotionally driven and not constructive, but learn from the ones that are thoughtfully written and that actually might help you in your future writing. Always remember, though, that writing is an art, as is music, painting, or sculpture. It is not a science, and therefore whether you are happy with it determines whether it is worthy or not. Of course, if you are writing solely to make money, this changes the paradigm and you must write what the public wants to read — hence the plethora of romance novels and series novels so prevalent today.
Last Straw tells the story of a bitter man, robbed of his future by unscrupulous financiers, who finds and punishes them in very creative and ugly ways, and the attempt by two young police officers, themselves embroiled in an escalating affair, to discover enough evidence to arrest and convict him.
My wife actually chose this title, and since she has been so supportive of my writing and a good beta-reader, I deferred to her judgment.
This book took approximately three years from inception to publication. It was self-published as an e-Book primarily because I could not obtain representation from literary agents (Do not get me started on that subject, as the diatribe will go on forever). I decided if the e-Book were well-received, I might order print copies also, but I am finding it hard to find enough readers, even though almost all reviews have been positive, to justify the trouble and expense of doing this yet.
Simply put, the message conveyed in the book is “if you mess with the bull, you are going to get the horns!”
The best thing someone could say about this book is that it kept him or her turning the pages from beginning to end without ever becoming bored or tempted to skim.
Conceiving this book took little imagination. I was financially damaged by the same type financiers as my character, Thomas Pickering. The book was my vicarious way of getting even.
Thomas Pickering is the antagonist (although some may feel he is the PROtagonist depending on their point of view), and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed creating a character more.
Any prospective reader must know that there is both graphic sex and graphic violence in the book, but the story does not dwell on either. These are necessary to provide the elements of a thriller, but the actual book is more about feelings, relationships, and right versus wrong.
As I have said before, John Sandford is the quintessential crime thriller writer, with Michael Connelly a close second. They both would be welcome to share dinner and a few cocktails with me.
I have no rituals, no music while I write. I usually write in my bathrobe and slippers in my study/computer room prior to the day’s other activities. My immediate family is highly supportive of my writing. I do use places with which I am familiar as the settings for my books. I do not like travel unless I can do it in our motor coach; therefore I will probably never write novels set anywhere but in the USA.
If one were to make a movie of me, Bruce Willis would be my pick for my character.
About David: David Rheem Jarrett was born and raised in Berkeley, California. After graduating from Dental School, he and his wife and two daughters moved to Reno, Nevada, where he and two others started the first group practice in the state, and practiced general dentistry for thirty-five years before retiring in 2005. Since then he has been doing what he promised himself he would do years ago – writing novels. He is active in physical fitness, golf, fly fishing, firearms, and gunsmithing, RVing, computers, and reading. He and his wife have been married for fifty-two years, and enjoy spending time together and with their three children and seven grandchildren.
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