Monday, June 24, 2013
Guest Post: Andrew Q. Gordon on his new book, PURPOSE
One of the things I tried to do differently with this 'tour' was come up with something more than just Q & A or random musings. I originally had the idea for a series of six to ten short stories that pre-date the events in Purpose. Each of them would deal with a past event mentioned in the story. As I set out to write them I realized how difficult that would be without giving away too much of the story. In the end I managed to come up with three that I felt were interesting enough as a short 'excerpt' story, but weren't spoilers.
Today's short story addresses Will/Gar's Journal. My hope with the 'journal' was to pull off a bit of a no-no. To create a vehicle by which I could use first person to give us a deeper look into Will's thoughts, without creating a crazy point of view [POV] shift change every few chapters.
The 'rules' of writing say it's a 'cardinal sin' to shift POV in a book. I was taught that if I started in first person, I needed to stick to it. Weird shift changes to third [or vise versa] tend to turn off readers (they turn me off). But the key is 'weird'
The first chapter of Purpose starts with a 'journal' entry and what I'd like to call the book's catch-phrase – 'Someone died tonight.'
To be honest, Purpose grew from a journal entry. 'Someone died tonight' were the first words I came up with for the book. If you can picture me sitting at a computer, staring at those three words on the screen and trying to figure out how to write an entire book around it, then you'll see how the book began.
I've never written in first person and I don't know that a handful of short journal entries qualify as having done it for real. I did, however, see the value in getting inside Will/Gar's head to show his journey throughout the book.
As with all the 'prequel' shorts, the goal is to provide a bit of back-story for the book. This is the first of Will's journal entries. The how and where the journal began. It is not an account of him dealing with David's killers, nor is it his first mission after that. This takes place about two months after Goodbye which is posted on Elizabeth Noble's blog; that short is the one year anniversary of David's death. So his first entry is about fourteen months after he is 'chosen.'
There is another reason for the journal entries, but that is explained in the book. We know that Will/Gar keeps a journal, but not why. By the end of the book that will be answered too.
One bit of information that I don't specifically spell out in the book. The numbers at the top of each are the date, the 'volume' and the entry. So this one is the first entry of the first volume. When the book opens, the entry is the 24th entry of the 39th volume.
Forty years ago the Spirit of Vengeance—a Purpose—took William Morgan as its host, demanding he avenge the innocent by killing the guilty. Since then, Will has retreated behind Gar, a façade he uses to avoid dealing with what he’s become. Cold, impassive, and devoid of emotion, Gar goes about his life alone—until his tidy, orderly world is upended when he meets Ryan, a broken young man cast out by his family. Spurred to action for reasons he can't understand, Gar saves Ryan from death and finds himself confronted by his humanity.
Spending time with Ryan helps Will claw out from under Gar’s shadow. He recognizes Ryan is the key to his reclaiming his humanity and facing his past. As Will struggles to control the Purpose, Ryan challenges him to rethink everything he knew about himself and the spirit that possesses him. In the process, he pushes Will to do something he hasn't done in decades: care. Buy link: Purpose from Dreamspinner Press
Excerpt: Journal Entry November 3, 1971 1-1
Someone died tonight, an innocent, someone so like David it hurts. But it's not David, it's someone else, someone else who didn't deserve to die.
The innocent calls to me, pulls me toward the killers. There are two. Young men, college age, but these are not students. Too much beer, too few morals. Bad combination.
He was twenty-two, just out of college and in love. His lover is in the hospital - he may not make it. Part of me hopes he doesn't because living will be painful. I know.
I let this thing inside me draw me toward my goal. It knows, it always knows. This whole thing is finally starting to make sense now I realize what's in my head.
The others, the ones before me, are helpful. I know what happened to me, or know as well as anyone can. This thing, this purpose with power, as one host called it, isn't good at anything other than forcing me to act. And if I don't, I'll go crazy. I've glimpsed the painful memories of others who had. I don't like it, but I can't get rid of it. Not if I want to keep my sanity.
They're close, I can feel the connection. Still drunk. I wonder if they know what they did. He was twenty-two, new job, new place. They beat him because he was gay.
I was out when I felt it, made it easy to get to the scene while the cops were still there. They didn't care, just another dead fag to them. That's what the guilty hoped for. Too bad for them I'm not the police.
David found peace because I punished his killers. This one will too.
Someone died tonight, a boy who didn't deserve it. His killers think they're safe because there were no witnesses, but they're wrong. I know what happened.
I wish I understood how I know, but when I look, all I find are more questions. Where did it come from? Why does it avenge the innocent dead? How come it can't speak to me? Is it the only one?
The others don't know either. Maybe I'll be the one to figure it out. But not tonight. Movement brings me back to now, my answers will have to wait.
I realize I'm in Germantown, quite a hike from downtown Philadelphia. Sometimes I forget how I get to places. Doesn't really matter so long as I'm here.
Nice, quiet neighborhood. Too bad they brought me here; this place is about to get a shocked. Just because they live in a nice place and their neighbors are good people, doesn't mean these two get a pass.
Leaving the house, their heads jerk as their eyes dart around the yard and dark streets. Maybe they can feel vengeance is at hand. Or maybe they're still drunk. Probably both.
These could have been kids I grew up with, minus a few years. Did they realize what they did? Do they care? Perhaps, but it doesn't matter. Not to the dead guy, not to the Purpose--relentless in its need to avenge--and therefore, not to me.
I move closer, it's time to end this. Alcohol reeks from their pores. Yup, they were shitfaced. The taller of the two has ice on his hand. No worries, it won't hurt much longer.
"Man, did you hear the sound of my fist on his head?" he asks his friend. His voice is thin, the words hollow. If he'd live to sober up, he might regret this night.
"Yeah. How 'bout when I was kicking his ribs? You could hear 'em break." This one has the body of an athlete. There's a hint of glee in what I hear. No doubt he's the instigator.
"Do you want to hear your ribs break?" My voice makes them jump, and scan the area.
I'm there, easily visible, but they don't see me. Their eyes avoid the area around me. One of my new abilities. It's not perfect, yet, but I'm getting better.
"What did you say, Jim," he asks the taller one?
"You...you...you know it wasn't me, Ron." They both strain to find me.
"Of course he knows it wasn't you." I've moved behind them, so they jerk around. "I'm here to avenge your victim."
Ron moves first, heading for the front door. He never has a chance.
Sweeping my leg around, I connect with a spinning heel kick hard to his torso. Without my added strength, catching him unprepared with such a kick would be devastating. With it, the effects are deadly. He won't survive. Most of his ribs are broken, his lung is punctured, as is his liver.
I could end it, but I feel no mercy. He left his victim to die, he'll get no better from me. Not yet, at least. Both will be dead before I leave.
Jim sobers up fast, his friend is down, but he didn't see who did it. Moving to his friend, he almost stumbles over. This is too easy. "Ron! Ron! What's wrong? Speak to me."
I remove the cloud from his mind so he can see me. "He'll be dead soon."
Falling back, he lands on his ass. Eyes wide with fear, he crab-walks away from me. Crab-walk? Who does that after elementary school?
"Please don't hurt me...I didn't mean it."
"Didn't mean what?" Stepping closer, I kick his leg out from under him. "Didn't mean to hurt your hand punching him so many times? Didn't mean for someone to find out? Because I know you meant to punch him, you did it enough times."
A sob wracks him as he bumps into a tree. "Please...I don't want to die."
"Neither did Alan Green." My eyes narrow as I focus my stare on him. "That was his name, not faggot."
"Who are you?" New tactic. Won't change the outcome.
"Vengeance." I swoop in to pull him to his feet. He's young, maybe twenty-one. There's such fear in his eyes, but there's something more. Holding him I recognize it; remorse.
Feeling him shake, I can't help but think of David. This must be how he felt when he was beaten. His image comes to mind. Would he agree with what I'm about to do?
Jim struggles, so I tighten my gripe.
"Please let me go. Please? I'll never do it again." Can he sense my hesitation? "I was drunk, and Ron started teasing them."
Does he think I care? Alan Green's soul wants to rest and has demanded his killers pay first.
David is there again. He's frowning, trying to tell me what to do. Sorry, David. It's too late.
"No, you won't do it again." I snap his neck so he doesn't suffer. More mercy than he deserved.
Someone died tonight. He didn't ask for his fate. Vengeance is satisfied.
Contest: Enter for a chance to win a $25.00 Dreamspinner Press credit. To be entered, you can leave a comment here, on any of the other post release blog stops or on the Purpose page on my site. For those who don't know what to write – you can ask me a question about the book – I can't promise to answer them all – don't want to give away things – but I will respond to them all.
Please leave an email so you can be notified if you win. All comments from all guest blog posts between the June 21, 2013 release date and July 1, 2013 will also be entered to win. The winner will be chosen using Randomizer.org on July 2. One entry per blog, but you can enter on each participating blog for more chances to win. For a complete list of eligible blogs, please see the Purpose book page on my blog: Purpose: By Andrew Q. Gordon
About the Author: Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. 'insiders', Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and not get the shakes.
Follow Andrew on his website, On Facebook, On Twitter: @andrewqgordon, Or just email him: firstname.lastname@example.org