Z is for Zsadist

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8478Zsadist is a character in the Brotherhood of the Black Dagger series, by JR Ward. These books are shelved in romance, and while they do have a lot of things in common with regular romance books, I think it’s an oversimplification.

The Brotherhood is a group of vampires who protect their species from the Lessers. The Brotherhood are scary, badass vampires who have no interest in humans. In this universe, vampires take blood from one another, as human blood would be too weak to sustain them.

Each book focuses on a different brother and his romantic attachment to a female. There’s sex and romance and all the typical stuff you find in a romance novel, including a “happily ever after” ending.

One of the reasons I love these books is that each of the brothers struggles with some form of disability. One brother is blind. Another has a prosthetic leg. Another struggles with a “beast” that emerges whenever he gets too emotional. And they’re still badass.

Zsadist is considered the coldest and cruelest of the brothers. When he was a young man, he was kidnapped and sold to a female who abused him physically, emotionally, and sexually. Because of that, he’s really just frightened of everyone, especially women, and uses his hard persona to keep everyone away. Though he’s loyal to the brothers, even they pretty much think he’s a psychopath.

When Zsadist meets a female who’s interested in him, he reacts the way you might expect: with fear that comes across as cruelty.

His story happens in the third book of the series, Lover Awakened. He’s really well-drawn. At times, my heart ached for him. But he didn’t come across as pitiful. He’s someone who was coping with his abuse in the only way he knew how, and I loved how he still managed to be a hero when it mattered.

It’s rare to see a male survivor of sexual abuse in a story, much less one who’s still masculine and tough. In a later book, he counsels a younger male about living with this kind of trauma, and it’s a powerful thing. The more fiction talks about it, the more we take steps to destigmatize it for the survivors.

Because his book is the third in the series, we get to see him from other points of view first. His behavior makes him look like the horrible person everyone believed. I think it’s a powerful reminder that we can never truly know another person’s story unless we’re in their head.

These are great books. If you’re not usually into romance, give these a try anyway. They focus as heavily on the vampire world and war as they do on the love story.

How do you feel about vampire books? Can’t get enough or overdone?

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Lover Reborn- A Review

I love JR Ward’s books, and I think each one gets better than the last.  Book Ten, Lover Reborn, focuses on Tohrment, aka Tohr.  In this book, Tohr has to learn how to live again with the help of a mysterious woman who lived among the chosen.

My favorite books are the ones about the core brothers (and John Matthew), and this one is no exception.  If you’re a Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, or if you’re new to the series, this is a wonderful book.  The only problem with these books is that I have to wait for the next one, and I really want to see who the books focus on next.  I keep hoping for Qhuinn and Blay, though there were some interesting developments with Layla during this book, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out either.  I love being able to watch how the characters and different story lines develop.

If you like romance, danger, suspense, and vampires, this is the series for you.

U is for Unbelievable

I like writing cross genre, and most of the things I write require some suspension of disbelief.  Now, I’m the perfect audience in both books and movies.  As long as the unbelievableness makes sense in the context of the universe created, I’ll buy it.  I can suspend disbelief and get totally into it.  On the other hand, I’m horrible to watch with when it doesn’t quite make sense in context.  I’ll comment, I’ll yell at the movie (or my book).  I won’t stop watching or reading (unless it’s so bad I can’t continue); I’ll just annoy everyone around me.

I had someone critique one of my works in progress (WIP).  In the WIP, the main character learns she is from a different world and is special, etc, etc.  The person who critiqued it said that he couldn’t believe she accepted it so fast and that it didn’t make sense.  So, being the good little receiver of criticism I was trying to be, I went back and edited.  I added in disbelief and vacillation for pages and pages.

And it slowed down the pace like crazy.

I recently re-read a Black Dagger Brotherhood book (if you haven’t read these, they’re phenomenal, BTW).  In these books, humans find out that vampires do exist.  They have trouble with belief at first, but it doesn’t go on for pages and pages.  If you really examine the reactions, it’s not realistic.  But it works.

Writing isn’t about realism, unless of course you’re writing a memoir or non-fiction.  People don’t read fiction to read about the ordinary person who gets up day after day, eats breakfast, takes a shower, goes to work, comes home, and watches TV.  Though the Sims made a killing off that, people want to read about drama and action.  They want to read about ordinary people who become special or end up in situations we’d all like to be in: falling in love, having families, saving the world.  Since most of us realize that that heady rush of falling in love comes rarely in a person’s life, if we want to relive it, we have to do it vicariously, through books and movies.  Who wants realism in that?

In the end, I went back to my WIP with a critical eye.  I remembered some of the things I’ve read about editing.  In the end, the WIP belongs to the writer.  We want readers to love it, but not every bit of criticism, no matter how well meant, is good criticism.  That’s why it’s important to develop that critical skin as writers, where we can take criticism, chew it over, think about it (without getting insulted!), then separate out the usable parts from the not-so-usable parts.

After all, I’m one of your readers, and I’ll believe anything, as long as it makes sense in your universe.