Please welcome our very first guest-blogger, Mark Terry! I’m a terrible host, because I’m leaving for the weekend (my birthday!). Will you please help me make him feel at home while I’m gone?
My wife and I went to see "The Bourne Ultimatum" about a week ago. The big debate was whether to see "3:10 to Yuma" or "Bourne" and ultimately Matt Damon won out over Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.
We loved the movie. I enjoyed the first two, "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy." Lots of action, intrigue, and enough plot to require you to pay attention-what’s not to like? My wife and I also like the fact that Jason Bourne is so smart. He’s not just an action hero, he’s smarter than the people he’s taking on.
That said, I have a confession to make. And this is a confession from a guy who writes action thrillers. I don’t particularly care for the books by Robert Ludlum. I’ve only read a few of Ludlum’s own and I find his writing to be sort of, er, dull and thudding. He was a terrific storyteller, I think, and what’s more, and probably most important, Ludlum really understood the concept of a "hook."
And that’s where I really have to give him credit for the Bourne books. There are tons of espionage novels out there-I write novels on the edge of espionage-with competent spies. And there are even some with not-so-competent spies (Mrs. Pollifax, anyone?). But Ludlum had a hook, you see?
A spy-an assassin-who has amnesia.
I mean, when you put it like that it sounds like all those in-jokes in Elmore Leonard’s "Be Cool," where Chili Palmer laments that they made a sequel to "Get Shorty" and they gave the character amnesia. (Was it "Get Lost?" I don’t remember and I’m too lazy to go hunting for the book.) Hell, I’m just barely old enough to remember an episode of "The Mod Squad" where Linc wanders around L.A. with amnesia.
But still. there’s your hook.
When I was an aspiring novelist versus, say, the struggling novelist I am now, I used to lament the fact that mystery novels were always built on what I felt were cheesy hooks: the female P.I., the caterer detective, the wedding planner detective, the golf pro detective, the freelance writer sleuth, the national park ranger detective, the black detective, the Hispanic detective, the blind detective, the deaf detective, the gay detective, the lesbian detective, the paralyzed detective. I once told my agent I needed to write a book featuring a black, female, lesbian, blind, quadriplegic cop-turned-lawyer detective. My agent wryly noted that it would give me a lot of demographics to market to.
So what do you think? Who’s the next big spy? Jim Bone, ghost spy? Felicia Smith, animorph spy, able to turn herself into a cat?
Mark Terry’s latest book, The Serpent’s Kiss, is out! Here’s the blurb:
A terrorist calling himself the Serpent unleashes sarin gas in a Detroit restaurant during the breakfast rush, killing 52. Homeland Security troubleshooter Derek Stillwater is called in on a race against time to stop the next attack...