When Zeus Cries

J.T. Ellison

It is raining. Hard. Hailing, too. My computer is on fire with alerts. Lightning crashes in the dark sky like a demented strobe light. Thunder rocks the house, making the storm windows shake. I am rapidly decoding meteorologist speak: bow echoes, hail cores, rotation and wind sheer. And we’re all a bit nervous, because Sunday night, a city was flattened by the preceding storm.

Zeus, it appears, is in a truly pissy mood.



We were in Italy when the storms tore through the south, killing almost 300 people. It happened the day after we had a beautiful, gorgeous overnight mountain thunderstorm. It went on for hours. And I relished every moment, because there was no fear of anything: no straight line winds, tornado warnings, or hail threat, just the gentle rolling thunder and flashes of light that we used to have when I was growing up in Colorado. I think I slept better that night than I have in years.

The next day, we saw that the weather was going to be really bad at home. We started texting with our house sitter, telling her the best place to take shelter, and warned her that the cat has developed a fear of storms and can be found cowering under our bed. Two in the morning, we started getting alerts on our phones that there was a tornado warning at the house. We held our breath until we got the text that everything was okay.

For too many, everything was not okay.

But as quickly as Ringgold, Georgia and Tuscaloosa, Alabama became world-wide news, their plight was pushed off the international news stage by the welcome news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

We didn’t have the Weather Channel telling us how bad things were. We didn’t have hour of air footage, reporters on the scene, or live streaming video. We made donations, and said prayers, and went on with our vacation.

We spent half the time in the north of Italy with my family, then Randy and I struck off south alone, to Sorrento. We did a lot of fabulous things, then capped off our stay with a Sunday trip to Pompeii.

A whole city destroyed by Mother Nature, as volcanic ash rained down rocks and choking dust and annihilated the people who lived there.

There’s no good way of knowing exactly how many people died. But seeing the casts, the horror was overwhelming. Pompeii is definitely someplace to see in this lifetime, if you’re able. It’s utterly surreal. It certainly makes you realize that tragedy in the guise of Acts of God has been around for a very long time.

Fast forward nineteen hundred thirty two years and three weeks.

Another tornado outbreak, this time in the traditional tornado alley, the Midwest. I’ve been watching bits of THE GREAT TORNADO HUNT, simply to try and learn more about these beastly storms. I experience this knowledge with both distress and gratification. Trying to control something that isn’t controllable, not uncommon for me. Especially after the floods last year, where we found ourselves wholly unprepared for the situation we found ourselves in.

I turned on the television, flipped to the Weather Channel, just as Mike Betts, the day’s most lucky tornado hunter, rolled into Joplin and started broadcasting.

It didn’t take a trained eye to see that this was well beyond anything we’d seen recently.

Joplin, Missouri was flat. As far as the eye could see, it was flat.

And like Mike Betts, I found myself speechless when faced with this devastation.


The deadline for my new book is rapidy appraoching, which means my mind is so far deep into this new story that I can’t see straight. But I keep finding myself online, looking at the stories out of Joplin. It’s breaking my heart. And that’s not necessarily the best place to be writing a book from.

And yet… it is.

It’s terribly distracting: having been through a natural disaster of epic proportion myself last year, I can only too clearly imagine what the folks in the Midwest, and the south, are going through. I get lost in the news reports, and find myself crying at the stories. Add in the flooding from the Mississippi, and it’s been an unimaginable few weeks of weather. I get annoyed with people like Kim Kardashian and her 20 carat $2 million dollar engagement ring. Not because I begrudge her a beautiful ring—I think we all deserve a good sparkler, and that one is a beaut—but because all I can think about is how much that money would help the people affected by these storms get back on their feet. So many have lost everything. Everything. And it seems to happen over and over and over again.

Who knew several weeks (and centuries) of weather was going to get me in the right frame of mind for my new book?

Empathy is the writer’s best friend. It allows us to experience the emotions of strangers, and in turn write them into our story, where the reader gets to experience them, and, hopefully, relate. It’s also a dangerous emotion, one that can drive a normal, well-adjusted person to insanity.

I’m in the second act slog on this new book. I finally recognize my writing pattern. It takes me a few months to get the first third of the book together. I rewrite and rewrite, pulling together threads, laying in clues and red herrings, over and over and over again. Suddenly I cross the 30K mark and things come together. I get on a roll, and just as suddenly, WHAM – I’ve forgotten something. I didn’t address a herring from chapter three, or I’ve forgotten to mention a character who’s vital to chapter forty. All stop. Rewrite.

And then, sometime in the 30-40K range, things break loose again and I get on a 20K roll until I hit that 60K mark, when everything all stops. I’ll go back to the beginning, usually with printed pages, and figure out where I’ve gone wrong.

So I’ve been interspersing herrings with tornadoes.

Needless to say, it’s been a strange week.

But the timing, honestly, couldn’t be better.

What I’m writing is deeply laden with emotions. I’ve never done anything like this before. I avoid pain. It’s not something I like to delve into, either personally or narratively. But with this book, I’ve had to open myself up to the universe, so I can experience the pain my characters are experiencing.

It’s hard. It’s very hard. Living in another’s shoes, imagining what they’re going through, living it with them day in and day out, then watching REAL pain on the television…

And where do you draw the line? The last thing you want to do is cause your readers a severe depressive episode because the story is a downer. This book is a thriller. There has to be a redemptive note through the story, or else readers will give up because things are too hard to think about.

Everyone asked me if I would do a flood book. I always answered yes, of course, and had all kinds of plans for it. Instead, I’m writing a book that takes place a year after the flood, about how one person is dealing, or not dealing, with the unimaginable.

Honestly, and you’re probably going to think I’m crazy, it’s much easier to write about murder than it is to write about pain. You know the old writing joke: when in doubt, bring in a man with a gun? I’d rather write about a throat slashing than the loss of a child.

Loss drives us. It’s something we can’t escape. We’ve all experienced it. And we will continue to do so. Some losses are magnified by the evening news. Some, written about quietly in a prison.

I worry about the depth of emotion I’m writing about. Worry that I’ll miss something and it will come across as too shallow, or go too deep, and drag the story into the morass with it. These are the times when I have to rely on the canon for guidance.

So help me out today, ‘Rati. Who are your favorite emotive writers? Do you have a favorite book that’s full of raw emotions? And where do you draw the line at reading stories that might not be uplifting on the surface? Are they okay if they have a happy ending?

Wine of the Week: A varietal on the whole, since it’s produced in a tiny region in Italy: Barbaresco The Montestefano is divine.

P.S.   The Red Cross is always a good place to send donations, if you’re interested. And don’t forget our furry freinds, who are impacted terribly as well. The Humane Society is a great place to start.

P.P.S. My friend Susan Gregg Gilmore is working on restocking the libraries in Ringgold. Read more about it here.

21 thoughts on “When Zeus Cries

  1. Chuck

    Hi JT:

    Provoking post today. Not long ago, one of my beta readers suggested I read ROSSHALDE, by Hermann Hesse, due to my love of Germany. It was a beautiful book, far different from what I typically read. SPOILER ALERT…but at the end, the protagonist loses his child in a drawn out series of scenes. Nooooooo! That's one place I cannot, will not go. I'll kill off husbands and wives, friends, comrades…and when I'm feeling reallllly sneaky and wanting to boil my readers' collective blood, I'll whack the beloved dog or cat. But I cannot harm a child. No way.

    And happy endings are fine, when they work. Some stories call for a harsh ending, as long as the story still resolves itself. Happy endings need to emerge from a torrent of conflict. I've read a few books where the happy ending went on and on. Cut it already! 🙂

    See you soon!

  2. Jake Nantz

    Being an animal lover, a well-written losing-the-family-pet scene gets me worse than the loss of a child. I've seen too many redemptive elements in the soul of a dog that frankly, in some kids, just is not and never will be there.

    At the same time, I can only think of two scenes that I've read that really got me choked up, and one of them is because my dad went through the "coming back through the airport and being spit on" garbage that so many "baby-killer" vets had to go through. This board stays away from politics, so I won't get into it much, but if I'd have been alive and big enough to carry a bat into an airport back then you'd still be hearing the stories of "that nutcse that's in jail for it" today. Anyway, there's a part in Crais's THE LAST DETECTIVE where he has to call the family of one of his buddies that he still feels guilty over not being able to save in Vietnam, and find out if the family is the one that hates/blames him for their son's death. It may not sound very emotive because I'm doing a horrible job of describing it, but it really got me. I haven't read FIRST BLOOD, but if the scene at the end of the book (when John Rambo is telling his former Colonel about trying to comfort his dying friend as he bled out because his legs had been blown off by a VC shoe-shine explosive) is anywhere near as tough as–even with Stallone's limited acting ability–the movie was, I'll be worse than Niagara Falls.

    The other was in one of Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro books (don't remember which) where some asshole feeds Strychnine to a puppy. I've studied poisons, and I know what that stuff does to your body and how the pain is permanently etched on the faces of the dead. ***SPOILER…The fact that Bubba only shot and killed the guy at the end, when he said he was going to make the guy pay, really pissed me off. I would've had the son of a bitch who did it hooked up to an IV of fresh blood just to make sure I got every last minute/hour/day/month of pain out of him that I could. Mistreatment of veterans and animals makes me violently angry in any occurrance, so it's a sure bet if that's in a story and the instigator doesn't get what I consider his due amount of comeuppance then the writer and I will have issues.

    Then again, I have anger management and immaturity issues myself, so I'm sure there are plenty of people who are clucking their tongues and shaking their heads just from reading this. But hey, it keeps me warm in the wintertime.

  3. Karen in Ohio

    In my 20's and 30's I read a lot of spy novels: John Le Carre, Ludlum, etc. But over the years the more I know about true evil that exists in the world, the less I want to immerse myself in it voluntarily. I've had to stop reading Patricia Cornwell altogether; her books have gone to a dark place I don't care to follow any more.

    One of the most emotive writers I've read lately, and indeed in a long time, is Cornelia Read. She takes you all the way to the edge, leaves you with a foot hanging over space, and then finally drags you back. It's almost exhausting to read her books, especially since she's so damned SMART, but it's always worth the ride.

  4. Barbie

    JT, sending lots of hugs your way. It must be extremely… overwhelming.

    For me, I don't care about the pain throughout the book — I like books with a lighter atmosphere and I like some with pain so deep it feels it's going to rip me in half. But happy endings are a must in each and every book I read. Reality is heartbreaking enough and way too often, there's no happy ending. The very least the books can give me is a way out from that. So, I only read books with happy endings. Maybe that makes me a coward or an idealist, but I like to believe in an alternative reality where everything does end well and they live happily ever after, no matter what.

  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    For readers, it is easier. We can skim or skip altogether uncomfortable scenes. Authors have to internalize it and live with it in their writing.
    Weather-wise, we got back from Puerto Rico on Sunday from an Overhead Door business convention. We had one beautiful day; otherwise it rained. On Tuesday, Billings broke its record for rainfall in a 24-hour period, over three inches. Over 8 inches in this month alone. There has been flooding but nothing like the damage east/south. Last year Billings had its first tornado touchdown in 50 years. As much as humans like to control our world, we have to live/survive nature.
    Wherever you have to go in your storytelling, be sure to come back to us. 🙂

  6. Mark Haile

    You might be interested in listening to an archived story that just ran a few nights ago on "The Story" on North Carolina that interviewed folks that had gone through disasters long since gone from the news cycle, asking them what practical advice they could share with those who were just now hit.

    Their URL is http://www.thestory.org

    On a lighter, zanier, "only in Florida" vein, you might recall Carl Hiaasen's 1995 "Stormy Weather," inspired by a mash-up of actual and created events. If anything, it shows that there will always be a audience for the topic, as only you can write.

  7. Louise Ure

    JT, I admire you for going deep into this next work. Writing about pain — truly getting to the heart of it and showing it in all its horror and inevitability — is not an easy thing to do. And it's even harder to do when the world around us is so rife with those examples that we might become inured to them through simple repetition. If you hit that same bruised spot over and over again, it starts to become less painful.

    Take care of yourself .

  8. David Corbett

    Dear JT:

    Having been raised Catholic, where the core symbol of the faith is an all-but-naked man nailed to a cross with a gash in his side and a tangle of thorns biting into his skull — a replica of which was displayed in virtually every room one entered at school, and hung at the end of the chain of black beads with which we said our daily prayers — I seem to lack your aversion to pain. And as a half-assed follower of Zen, I also got the memo re: suffering is inescapable and inevitable. That isn't a woe-is-me outlook. It simply prepares you, to the extent you can be prepared for the raw shock of real suffering.

    Also, after being a PI for fifteen years, I dedicated myself to never writing about violence in a way that skirted the fundamental truth about it: the pain. The man whose throat gets slashed is, after all, someone's child.

    Violence without pain is like sex without emotional connection: it's porn.

    One does not "dwell" on pain by writing about it honestly. The trick is the last word. Sometimes the best way to stay honest is to address someone else's suffering rather than your own. The fact it's someone else's helps to objectify the experience, and seems (emphasis on the seeming) to mitigate the tendency to sentimentalize on the one hand and evade on the other. I think you have a pretty good handle on that. Let your empathy guide you. I think you'll do just fine.

    But to avoid pain is to cheapen yourself and the reader. To pretend there is a story to be told worth hearing that doesn't honestly deal with our lives — and the essential suffering in it — is to assume we're all cowards or kindergarteners. I think respecting your reader demands you not underestimate her capacity to face the world as it is, i.e., its pains as well as its joys. There seems a great deal of traction to the notion that writing about bad things is somehow self-indulgent. I can't even begin to express how shallow and snide and fundamentally cheap and mean-spirited I consider that ethos to be.

    And yet, to convey pain, one almost always needs to employ a little indirection. One needs to stop short of the mark, so the reader can fulfill the trajectory. (This is true of a lot of things in writing, obviously.)

    I think one of the best examples of this is THE COLLECTOR, where Fowles goes to such lengths to reveal the inner life of the victim, Miranda. Her death — which occurs "off the page," as it were (i.e., from Freddy Clegg's POV), registers horribly precisely because we come to know her so well. (And yet, as I've mentioned before, I know of two serial killers who thought the novel was a kind of handbook — which demonstrates that you can't control how your reader will respond to your work, no matter what you write, or how honestly you go about it).

    I think Daniel Woodrell deals with suffering in his novels brilliantly. And I think Kate Atkinson, in the first few chapters of CASE HISTORIES, does as superb a job as I've ever encountered in print.

    Be well, take care, and strike a balance — especially in your own life as you plumb these things.


  9. Allison Davis

    "Do They Know I'm Running" by our own David Corbett is full of loss and redemption…from the point of view of an 18 year old…

    But I think rather than just loss, your post is about honest writing. Many of us avoid pain because it's unpleasant, but it's the same with things that might be embarassing, awkward or in any way makes us vulnerable. To write with this type of vulnerability or nakedness is hard and requires a stringent honesty. But makes for really strong narrative. BEAT comes to mind by Stephen. Also, Louise's Fault Tree…from the point of view of a blind protogonist. I bet I could walk through every Murderati author and find this quality. A good lesson for those of us still in the trenches.

    And being from earthquake land, tornados frighten me beyond words…nice post J.T. to tie the horrible events in Joplin to disaster everywhere to the necessity of an author's vulnerability and emphathy.

  10. pari noskin taichert

    oof, JT. Wonderful, profound words here.

    Have you read Maria Doria Russell's THE SPARROW? I think that one gets all kinds of emotions right — deep and to the core.

    Take care of yourself, sweetie.

  11. JT Ellison

    Chuck, that's definitely a hard row to hoe, if you catch my drift. I like to think that I'm fearless as a writer, and this book has proven to me that I am not. I'm the opposite of you though, I can manage with the death of a child much better than I can animals. I will put a book down if there is violence against an animal that isn't incredibly well thought out and necessary. Too many writers do it for effect. Then again, that gos for any violence, if you think about it.

    Jake, I'm with you on the pet thing… obviously… And I am glad you're not in jail, though I do understand the sentiment, all too well. I have this weird thing that I can't see people cry without crying myself – happy or sad, so I'm a mess at those kinds of movie scenes.

    Karen, I've had to pull back from the serial killer type genre too, both reading and writing, because it just became too dark a place for me to reside in. My next book is a ghost story instead. I think we can explore evil without remanding ourselves to gore and over the top violence. The quiet contemplations seem to be far scarier to me, actually.

    Barbie, thank you. And I have to admit, this is the first book I've ever worked on that I think there can be a happy ending. I'll have to write it first to see ; )

    Oh, PK, I've mythologized Montana to the point that I'm afraid to visit because I don't want to be disappointed. Crazy weather and all. Hope you had a good break regardless!

    Mark, thank you for that! I'll listen to it tonight, because with one house in a tornado zone and my folks' in a hurricane zone, we'll need everything we can get. I'll look for the Hiassen book too!

    Louise, thank you. It's not easy, and I am thankful to have friends around to share this with so I don't get too lost in it. I've always written tough characters–it's a whole different game when they're frail too.

    David, wow. As always, wow. I've written other people's pain before, for sure–victim's families left behind. I've never gotten into the head of a character who has lost everything. It's a different perspective, one that I can imagine all too well. I'm familiar with the Buddhist concept of suffering, and it's naturalness to our state of being. It still freaks me out though.

    Allison, that's it exactly. I've always written a female lead who is larger than life, a hero. Now I'm writing about a real person, one who's much more like me in many ways, and it's all about being honest with those emotions. And thank you. I didn't know I was going here when I broke the rules and started with the weather.

    Pari, I haven't read THE SPARROW, I'll go look for it. Thanks for the suggestion – and the sweet words!

  12. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Some wonderful ruminations on writing dark, today!

    I love this, JT – "I think we can explore evil without remanding ourselves to gore and over the top violence. The quiet contemplations seem to be far scarier to me, actually." (Exactly why I write supernatural, too!)

    And David C – "Violence without pain is porn." Amen.

    It's an interesting question: who gets raw emotion right? I think Stephen King portrayed the agony of losing a child like no one else I've ever read in Pet Sematery. And Mo Hayder is hands down the best at portraying violence in a way that no one by a sociopath could get turned on by.

  13. Reine

    Hi JT,

    The suffering you address here is so real and human and animal nd spirit. All pain touches us, I believe. I sometimes cannot read about it. Or write about it. But I have to. It rearranges my faulty concepts of self, and I can go on. I don't see happy endings, but the interludes are good. I need those interruptions of happiness or success. I welcome them. They bless perseverence and willingness to endure. They are a tribute to hope through pain.

  14. Dudley Forster

    Hi JT — Casa benvenuta!

    I’ve been in a great quake, played dodge the twisters (I was in a truck with my uncle in Kansas) and watched as the skies grew pitch black in the middle of the day as 3” of ash fell on us (that was in Moscow, ID hundreds of miles from Mt St. Helens) yet I am stilled surprised and awestruck at the power of nature. We humans think we are in control, but to paraphrase C. J. Box, we are head lice who think we can control when the person we inhabit farts.

    As for books & authors, I was crushed by THE LOVELY BONES. As the father of three daughters, I cannot imagine anything worse than having a child kidnapped, raped and murdered. I knew when I started reading the book there would be no happy ending, but I was unprepared for the unrelenting deep, raw emotional story of grief and guilt. When I was a kid, I had my first deep emotional experience with a book, when I read OLD YELLER. To this day I can’t watch the movie (Lorelai Gilmore referred to the movie as a guy cry movie and it’s true)

    The first emotive author that comes to mind is Karin Slaughter. It’s not the violence or crimes, it’s her flawed characters, how they cope with their brokenness or fail to do so is what makes her stories. I was not surprised to discover WITHERING HEIGHTS is her favorite novel (look at her characters’ names).

  15. JT Ellison

    Alex, I'm finding the supernatural a more forgiving place to write from. Maybe because there are so many things that simply can't be explained, and pure evil falls into that category for me. Did you see the article today about the new summer lineup focused on the supernatural? Nice to know we're ahead of that curve… http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304520804576343310420118894.html

    Reine, those are the things that keep us going, absolutely. You're a shining testament to that, dear. And yes, I had to turn the TV off a few times, because it just was too much to bear. And then I'd turn it back on, reminding myself that they didn't have the luxury of pretending it wasn't happening.

    Dudley, I adored THE LOVELY BONES. I did find it to be a happy ending though. SPOILERS:
    I found the concept "heaven is what you make of it" so enlightening, so beautiful, that I felt a real sense of peace when I closed the book. How crazy does that make me? And WUTHERING HEIGHTS is one of my favorites as well. Mmmm, maybe a post deadline treat, a reread. Heathcliff is such a great anti-hero.

  16. Jenni

    When I was 6-7 years old, I went through my first war experience in an African civil war. In the years after that, my family lived in several "hot spots," and at age 17, I got stuck in a violent coup in Central Asia. I've written about losing the sense of the magic of childhood, losing the childish belief that some god or your parents can magically make everything better again, but at the same time developing a sense of self-reliance, independence and strength of character. It is really difficult material, and I'm finding it's challenging to delicately honor others who were involved, to share the dramatic details without trivializing the parts my mind would rather gloss over or focusing on the gore. Humor and self-reflection help, and the universal knowledge that wars and natural disasters bring out not only the worst in people, but also the best.

    While Americans do love a happy ending, I don't think it's 100% necessary. It's one of the comments – both critical and praiseful – I've heard throughout my life from people in other parts of the world. In Europe, you can get away with writing a book without a happy ending; in some places, I think it's practically a requirement. In the US, we're used to our Disneyland endings. Readers here expect some thread of hope to get them through, but as others here have pointed out, there are plenty of books that successfully deal with the dark side of human nature, the devastation of a natural disaster, or with armed conflict. Those stories tend to stick with us, and maybe even help shape our outlook on life, our compassion, and our empathy. I hope so; it's one reason I feel driven to write.

    I do think that what you are experiencing now, and the depth of empathy developing in you, can only enhance what you write in the long run. It will make your novel richer and deeper than you could have hoped for it to be otherwise. There are usually silver linings, even in the darkest of times, but it can take time to find them.

  17. Dudley Forster

    JT – Damn I misspelled Wuthering – facepalm (I blame autocorrect). Sebold’s concept of heaven didn’t soothe me. I found Susie watching life progress from heaven, a life she could never have, added to the pain. As for WUTHERING HEIGHTS, if by antihero you mean Heathcliff is a malicious, vile man, then yeah I agree. My reference to WUTHERING HEIGHTS in regard to Karin Slaughter’s books is that like Brontë, all her characters are broken, but unlike Slaughter, only two of Brontë’s characters are redeemable, Hareton & Lockwood. And I’ve always viewed Lockwood as a character that stumbled off the pages of Jane Austen and fell into his own personal twilight zone.

  18. Allison Davis

    Ok, I looked it up finally at home, The Bone People by Keri Hulme…pain and empathy galore here in this book — based on Maori lore, intertwines love, violence, pain and life…powerful. I thought of it today but didn't have time to reflect until now.

  19. Reine

    Hi JT,

    I just read the blog about your friend Susan Gilmore and the efforts to restock the Ringgold libraries. I wish them great success and believe they will get so much more from their efforts than books. It reminds me of the little South Fork School library in Weldon, Calif. When we lived on the ranch up the canyon I would drive by the school now and then to browse the shelves. It was a remodeled closet really, a small one, and it was attended by community volunteers. One day the school custodian saw me and said, "You know, you can check out a book and take it home. I see you in there all the time, and you just look." I told him that no one was there and that I lived 3 cattle guards up, across the creek, and up the hill and on back near Cortez Canyon (about 13 miles away). He looked at me like maybe I wasn't all there and said he knew where I lived. Then he showed me where the notebook and pencil were and explained that all I had to do was write down the title of the book and my name. I did that, and I was so happy to find another way to get a book in those pre-Amazon.com days. I think it encouraged me to go back to school. I donate to libraries now, especially school libraries. I love what your friend is doing.

  20. KDJames

    JT, all you can do is tell the story you need to tell. As much as I love and respect readers, when you're engaged in the writing process you can't worry about how they'll react. Hell, there are too many of them, plus they bring so many different experiences to a story. You have to accept that telling the story is a catalyst. A prompt. Each individual reader finishes it by combining their own memories and reactions and preferences with the path you've taken. It's a collaboration with a multitude of strangers. They won't all have the same reaction and you can't control that. Nor should you.

    And if I may, because I care about you . . . I'm seeing a lot of post traumatic stuff here. I went through something very similar after Hurricane Andrew devastated south FL when I lived there. And then Floyd and Fran once I moved here to NC. Honestly, it took a while for it to manifest itself. I am still extremely aware of storms forming way out in the Atlantic. But it got to where it felt like the people on The Weather Channel were my close personal friends. You need to take a step back. Force yourself to turn off the TV. Stop watching the reports. It becomes a compulsion and it's not healthy. I'm not saying you shouldn't care. Just that it shouldn't consume you. And it will, if you let it.

  21. PD Martin

    Hi JT,
    I'm very thankful to have never experienced a natural disaster. Touch wood, I never will. And I think the media around lots of events makes things tough. Just like you mentioned Osama Bin Laden consuming the headlines, it was like that over this part of the world when New Zealand got hit by that earthquake and then suddenly Japan got hit. New Zealand's plight and pain was forgotten, because the Japan situation had escalated the stakes. Nuclear power was involved, of course it had everyone's attention.

    I agree it's hard to write about raw emotion…I'm in a similar place now with my genre switch and it's exhilarating and frightening all at once. Sometimes I think authors are like actors when we write…we must absorb ourselves into a character's mindset.

    David – loved your comment about violence and porn – brief, yet spot on.


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