Tag Archives: Jeff Lindsay

DEXTER WEEK DAY FIVE: Book Review 8: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

With this review, we have reached the end of Dexter week.  I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to create it.  Let me know if there are any other themed weeks you would like to see in the future!

Double Dexter is the sixth book in the bestselling Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay.  While it’s publishing date is set for October eighteenth, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy and see how it stacks up to the previous ones in the series.

It doesn’t just stack up to the others; it blows them all out of the water and then some.

The book starts out with a lyrical description of the night, a full moon in the sky and rain clouds ready to burst.  Tension is created almost immediately by the prose here, and my thoughts from last week on the disappearance of “poetry in prose” from books in more recent times have now been rethought.  Dexter, normally written in first person, is written with the word “we” instead of “I”, a word choice that shows a difference between when Dexter has on his mask and when he is free to be himself: the man and his Dark Passenger.

Even the murder that occurs right at the beginning of the book is described in this way, giving it a feel of surrealism that I don’t think could be accomplished another way.  It is only after Dexter realizes that he has been seen, that there had been a witness to his crime, that the word “we” changes to “I” once more, marking an end of his world and a return to the real one.

The majority of the book then details Dexter’s private quest to find the Witness and to kill him before his secret night life can be spilled.  This fear overrides him to the point where he is unable to see the problems at home, work, and everything in between.  With his wife drinking nearly half a bottle of wine at night, his job as a blood spatter specialist at the local Precinct during a case where policemen are being beaten to death, and searching for a bigger house, it’s amazing that he can keep it all straight.

Oh, and he’s being investigated for the murder of a co-worker.

With events coming to a head in the Keys, Dexter finds himself face to face with his Witness, a man who had decided that he was going to be the “next Dexter” and has to choose between taking a safe path and following the events through to their completion.  When his kids are taken from him by the now murderous Witness, his choice is made for him, and the book races towards its darkly devious denouement.

Overall, this book is well written and is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.  There are some points where Dexter seems especially dense, mainly those involving Rita and her drinking. Perhaps it’s because I am female that I was able to figure out WHY she was drinking as much as she was before Dexter was.  With him going out at night and not coming home until later, smelling like he just showered…well…I can see pretty easily where her thoughts were going.

As normal, the characters are well-written and any changes between books are explained through events that happened earlier or between novels.  The setting is clear and crisp, a place that truly exists in Dexter’s world and in ours.  Suspense and tension is drawn out enough so that we want to stay up to keep reading, but short enough that we do not get bored and the payoff is worth the time spent.

Lindsay is once again at the top of his game in Double Dexter and I enjoyed every moment of this book.  If you are a fan of Dexter, either the books or the TV show, I suggest you pick this up as soon as it comes out and read it for yourself.

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DEXTER WEEK DAY FOUR: Anti-Heros

Today’s Dexter Week article is written by Miss Erika Eby, owner of HiJinks Studios and published author.  When I first met Erika, she was introduced to me as Bob, with Miss Bob being her unofficial title.  She was the president at the time of the renaissance re-enactment group at  our college.  Needless to say, it was a great start to a friendship.  Having tabletop gamed with her a few times, and seeing Rodrick in his first inception, I knew that she was the one to write this entry about the Anti-Hero.  I was very very happy when she agreed to write this article for me.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Semi-Coherent Ramblings on the Psychology and Creation of Anti-Heroes

Written by Erika Eby

There’s something innocent about wanting to believe that there are good guys and bad guys, black and white, easy to spot,  and Superman will show up and know who is who and save the day.  Kids’ shows are easy. The bad guys do something bad and the good guys rise to the occasion and take the moral high ground. Maybe someone waivers for a moment, but the whole thing is wrapped up with a pretty bow in under half an hour.

As we grow older, we realize that the world just doesn’t work that way. There are shades of grey and there are always loose ends left to tie up. Things rarely get tied up neatly, and when they do, it’s rarely in a way that we’d like.

Sometimes that means we cling to those childhood ideals of heroism even tighter. Sometimes that means we are drawn to the dark imperfections in our world and ourselves. It’s Superman or Batman; Cyclops or Wolverine. Me? I’ve always liked Batman better…and between you and me? Scott Sommers is kind of a pretentious prick.

What exactly is an anti-hero? Well, it’s hard to sum up. Early definitions all pegged the anti-hero as a villain, a “hero” that does not display heroic qualities. The reality is much more complex than that. Anti-heroes are murderers, thieves, and bastards. They blur the line between good and evil, right and wrong, or show us that the line was blurred or absent entirely before they every got there. Often times they have good intentions, but their actions are opposite of what is expected of a hero. Other times they do good things, but we see they have selfish or less than wholesome intentions at heart. Anti-heroes constantly force us to examine the difference between what is right and what is necessary.

As individuals, usually we’re drawn to anti-heroes sometime in our early teen years. As a culture, you could almost say the same thing. America’s rebellious and hormonal teen years were quite probably Vietnam. The years during and after Vietnam brought a number of gritty heroes or gritty reboots of old heroes.

There’s an ebb and flow to this mentality. When times are rough, we look to the anti-hero to do what is necessary, even if it may not be “right” by traditional standards. When times are good, we want to believe that there are still heroes out there. Batman is a perfect example. He started out as a vigilante that carried a gun and didn’t mind roughing up or killing criminals. Then in the 50’s, times were good and psychologists worried about the impact of such things on the minds of children, so the Caped Crusader’s world became more colorful and his demeanor more paternal. In the 60’s the character became more campy and lighthearted.

Sales dropped off in the late 70’s and early 80’s, in the Cold War and Post-Vietnam era. Enter Frank Miller and suddenly Batman is the Dark Knight once again. Not the hero the people want, but the hero they need.

That’s the delicious thing about anti-heroes. They speak to some primal, carnal, need inside our souls. They are a catharsis for every moment of every day when we’ve fantasized about getting even, about saying what we’re really thinking. Regardless of what it is that makes them anti-heroes, they speak to that dark passenger inside of all of us that we don’t want to admit to having.

This is the wonderful thing about Dexter, who may well go on to become one of the most iconic anti-heroes of our generation. The frills and trappings of a twisted sense of Chivalry are gone entirely. He pushes the idea of an anti-hero farther than most authors would ever dare take it. Dexter is a sociopath. He feels no remorse. He murders people and he enjoys the hell out of it. But he murders people that none of us would really miss. Murderers, child molesters, rapists… Like with Boondock Saints, he is killing people that many people talk about taking a gun to, vigilante style, anyway.

The thing that really makes an anti-hero, though, is the fact that some part of us likes them. We are drawn to them like moths to flame. Dexter is captivating and charming, and not just in the manipulatively charismatic way that sociopaths tend to be. He is equal parts repulsive and endearing.

This is what makes anti-heroes so challenging as a writer. There’s a fine line to walk between lovably wicked and just appalling. Creating an anti-hero is much harder than creating a hero, but also much more rewarding (at least in my humble opinion). Heroes are easy. They always take the high ground. You program in a set of morals and values, wind them up, and let them go. Heroes can get away with being flat and stale as cardboard. Not to say that all heroes are, plenty are not, but they at least have the choice.

A flat anti-hero is usually just a villain. In order to walk the fine grey line, anti-heroes need to be complex and well developed. They need to have justifiable reasons for their actions, well developed intentions, and something that makes them feel “real.” All important characters should be developed until they have that breath of life – you add details drop by drop until finally the cup overflows with a personality all its own—but anti-heroes need that quality in order to be likable.

Take my own pet anti-hero for example: Roderick, a vampire that was spawned from a role-playing game and is now the protagonist of one of my works in progress. To quote the owner of this blog “The man is a bastard, but we still love him.” He’s a womanizer and a drinker. He takes advantage of drunken college girls to get his hemoglobin fix. He has selfish interests and he is willing to lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate to accomplish his goals. He also has a soft spot for an abandoned fledgling he meets up with. He has a tumultuous love-hate relationship with his sire. He can be an aloof prick, but he’s also grappling with the loss of his humanity as he feels himself become more distant and cold as the years wear on. He’s been under development for years, growing and changing until he’s become more real than some of my friends.

That’s really why anti-heroes need that extra time, that last detail that makes them spring to life. We’d all like to be heroes sometimes, but the fact of the matter is: we’re not. We’re human. We’re all anti-heroes. Simple, complex, flawed, and beautiful.

About the Guest Blogger: Erika Eby is a professional freelance writer, editor, photographer, and photo editor. She has a strong writing background with over four years journalistic and academic experience. She graduated with honors from Carthage College and holds a BA in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing.

An avid technology buff, Ms. Eby tries to stay on the cutting edge of technology. She works part time as a photo technician and electronics specialist. Her hobbies include writing, drawing, photography, fitness, new age, and a wide variety of board, table top, computer, and console games.  She has also recently started the company HiJinks, a freelance company for writing, editing, photography, and everything in between.

A jack-of-all-trades, her works can be found around the internet on Associate Content and Hubpages. She is also the author of an upcoming book titled “Writing Great College Research Papers: 101 Tips and Tricks to Make Your Work Stand Out” from Atlantic Publishing.  

 


DEXTER WEEK DAY TWO: Books, Movies, TV Shows, Oh My!

It seems that Hollywood has no good ideas of late.  They take the ideas of authors and turn them into best-selling movies and top-rated TV shows.  But does this help or hinder the writers who spent years trying to create a world and a story that people would enjoy?

In the long run, it does seem to help.  If the screen-visualization of the books is good enough, people will be interested in the books they are based off of and try to find them.  This brings the authors more readers and the networks new viewers when those who had the book first find the show.

When Dexter first aired on CBS, I was at college, living with my grandmother.  We watched the “toned down” versions together, cheering for a serial murderer and having discussions over dinner on the best way to hide a body (I think consensus came to planting a tree over it or using the microwave just to say we had).  Yes, my grandmother and I are strange.  And yes, when the new seasons come out in DVD, I buy them, go visit her, and we hide behind our blankets eating ice cream while watching.

But when we found out this was based on a book?!  My grandma made me take her to the bookstore the next day so we could buy it and read it.  With the first book being the basis for the first season of Dexter, we knew a lot of the story already.  But the book had nuances in it that made the story more enjoyable and an engaging read. From then on, when she saw the newest Dexter book in her magazine, she would get it, read it, then pass it off to me so I could read it.  Even once the TV show started pulling away from the books, we would enjoy both of the tales told.

And while there are some cases of TV shows based off of books that have gone badly (*cough*Dresdenfiles*cough*), the outcome of such exposure, I feel, has never been a cause of pain.  If anything, these “bad adaptations” have brought more fans in as they want to find out if the books are as bad as the TV show.

….and no, I’m not touching Twilight and analyzing that with a fifty-foot pole.


DEXTER WEEK DAY ONE: Know Your Setting

A good setting can be hard to build.  Some think the world of fantasy is easier to work in as you can make everything up. But such a fantastical world still needs to make sense, not to mention the fact that if there are books later, expect to go back through what you wrote earlier in order to make sure it is all the same (or pray that you haven’t lost your notes on it).

Writing in the “real world” is perhaps a bit easier.  Streets, landmarks, even the local gas station is already there, all you need to do is change names to “protect the innocent”.  There is no lee-way here though either.  If Avenue A has been under construction in the time period you are writing your story in, expect to have readers dive-bomb you if you make Avenue A easy to drive around on and wide open with four lanes of traffic.

This is where research is your friend.

Learn all that you can about a place before you start writing your story in it.  Have a map open on the background of your computer of the important streets and locations that you can refer to when your main character is chasing after the man who just robbed him (or is running away from the cops).  It’s a bonus if you have lived there for any length of time and have walked the streets.  The added realism truly helps to bring the reader closer to believing that what they are reading is real.

If you can’t live there, visit the city of your choice at least once to experience it.  And, if that’s not possible, build a network of people who live there that you can call and ask them “Hey, can you drive past here today and tell me what you see?”

The Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay are really wonderful examples of this.  The world is fleshed out, the setting of Miami remaining as close to possible to the “real world” during writing.  Current events are mentioned in the books, including the effects of the economic downturn, wars, crimes, even the daily flow of traffic from Miami to the Keys.  Boating marinas, islands, and, in the newest book Double Dexter, the local “color” as seen in the form of sharks and people, are all included.  This well-rounded environment is a world that is believable even in its fiction.

Look around you.  You have a setting that you know well right there.  Try writing a few hundred words describing that place to get a feel for setting creation.  And if it’s a fantasy world you want to write…well…  Go get out your D&D books and plan a “game”.  By the end of that, you’ll have a fully fleshed out setting that you can steal pieces and parts from to create something you and your readers will enjoy.

For more information on setting creation, check out these links:

http://ecreativewritingideas.com/creative-writing-ideas/creative-writing-ideas-setting

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=54447