Game of Thrones, Being a King, and Howard Stern
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Dave here with this week’s missive from the Writer’s Cave.
Do you watch Game of Thrones? If you’re not watching it, I urge you to start. HBO is on Season Two now, so you definitely want to start with Season One. It’s one of the most complex, enjoyable shows I’ve seen in a long time.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the show (and the book series it is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) is how you get the story from so many perspectives. You find yourself identifying, loving, and hating people in different sides of the same war.
As you can tell from Yesterday’s Gone and WhiteSpace, we’re kinda big into alternating POVs.
Martin was interviewed in this week’s Rolling Stone and he was asked about his characters. He said something I loved.
I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially, he said, people have different favorites. But one of the best things is how readers write to him having very different opinions on his characters. A character hated by some is loved by others. And vice versa. And Martin said if all your letters say the same thing about the same characters, then you know you’ve written a cardboard character.
Great line. And true. And something we strive for in our own fiction — to present multifaceted characters that you love and love to hate.
Something else we’ve learned from Game of Thrones… if you want to be King, you have to go after the crown.
Sean and I have declared ourselves “Kings of the Serial.”
Like Game of Thrones, and Howard Stern (the self proclaimed “King of All Media”) taught us, nobody is gonna make you king. You have to seize the crown … or name yourself King.
Our quest for the crown began in January with the launch of Yesterday’s Gone: Season Two. That’s when we decided we’re going to release a book per week.
When we started Yesterday’s Gone last summer, there were a lot of naysayers saying that serials won’t work. Saying that people don’t like reading the format. That you can’t sell “part of a story.”
We said bullshit.
Serials have been around forever. And Stephen King proved in the 90s that there’s still an audience for serialized fiction, when he released The Green Mile.
Networks like HBO and AMC prove it week in and week out, that people LOVE the cliffhanger! Shows like Game of Thrones, The Killing, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and True Blood keep me, and millions, on the edges of our seats every single weekend.
We want to the be the HBO or AMC of the Kindle Generation!
The digital revolution (and Amazon) has given us a golden opportunity to do something we never could have done with a traditional publisher. And with great power comes great responsibility… to bring you a new episode of killer content with killer cliffhangers each and every Tuesday. One review said “Tuesdays are the new black.” I love that line!
And we couldn’t do it without you, who prove to us week in and week out that we made the right decision to chase the crown.
Of course, there isn’t a real crown. And no official “King” title. It’s more about being in a position to continue writing these stories for you.
The better we do, the better our books sell, and the more positive reviews we have, the stronger our Goner Army!
So thank you for continuing to read and continuing to leave reviews.
You are awesome!
Here’s a sneak peek at WhiteSpace: Episode 3 www.amazon.com/dp/B008391S1A/
This is my favorite episode yet, where we learn more about Houser, who is becoming my favorite character.
Thank you for reading,
WhiteSpace: Episode Three
P.I. Brock Houser is on the hunt for a missing child, but can he outrun a past, and another missing child, that haunts him?
As Liz Heller tries to overcome the tragedy that her husband created, she begins to piece together a mystery that threatens her sanity, and perhaps the safety of her family.
As the school re-opens, is Alex Heller ready to return? Are the students ready to accept him? Or will someone seek vengeance?
As Jon Conway and Cassidy Hughes search for Emma, they set their differences aside to track down a potential lead. What happened to Emma? Will they ever see her alive again?
As Milo Anderson recovers from tragedy, a mysterious person contacts him again, with a startling declaration.
The mystery continues, and the danger increases, leading up to and unforgettable ending.
Brock Houser Part I
Ocean County, California
10 years ago…
Detective Houser knew he was staring into a set of guilty eyes the second the sleazeball peered from his side of the flimsy security chain which would pop off in an instant if Houser kicked the door in.
There is an undeniable look worn in the eyes of the guilty — a look you got to know as a cop. A look Houser had become aware of, and well-tuned to, as a child. For Houser, instinct was as accurate as any of his senses. His eyesight had failed him a few times, his instincts, at least in this area, not even once.
This was his man, sure as shit. The twisted fucker who had kidnapped six year old Cecilia Ramirez.
“Can I help you?” the man said from the shadows of his dark apartment.
“Hi, my name is Detective Houser. We’re talking to people in the neighborhood about a missing girl. I’d like to ask if you’ve seen her?”
Houser raised the photo for the man to see, fixed on his eyes the entire time.
Guilt? Yes. Without a doubt.
Richard Jurgen was his man.
“Nope, haven’t seen a thing,” Richard shook his head.
“Are you sure?”
The man took a second longer glance at the photo, studying the gloss for a half-minute or so before raising his nervous eyes to meet Houser’s. “Nope, ain’t seen her.”
The monster started to close the door.
Houser slipped his boot against the bottom of the door, keeping it ajar. “I’m sure you won’t mind if I ask you about something one of your neighbor’s said.” Houser pretended like it was a question.
“Sure,” Jurgen said, easing his force on the door.
Houser kept his boot in place, but didn’t push on the wood.
“Someone said they saw you last Tuesday, with your hatchback backed up to the garage, late at night. They said it seemed like you were carrying something pretty heavy.”
Houser kept his eyes fixed on the monster, waiting for him to drown himself in a lie.
“I don’t remember,” he dove into the deep. “I often go out on my rounds late at night, picking up junk, looking for the furniture and stuff people leave out for trash. That’s not a crime all of a sudden is it?”
“No, Mr. Jurgen, not at all.” Houser shook his head, then looked down at his notes, flipping back a page for effect, then looked back up at the monster. “Odd thing was that your neighbor said the garage light was out, just like the light in your car.”
“So, what of it?” the man said, fear in his voice starting to smother the calm. “I can see well enough with the street lights. I can see you just fine, right?”
Bet both balls in the sack, this is our asshole.
“OK, well then Mr. Jurgen, you won’t mind if we take a quick look around,” he said, nodding to his silent partner, Chan, who was standing to Houser’s left. “Just to save us some time, so we can get on with the search and rule you out.”
“You have a search warrant?”
“No, but based on what I do have, a warrant’s exactly one short phone call away. I was hoping that since you’ve nothing to hide, you wouldn’t mind if we took a quick look around so we can get out of your hair. We have to follow up on leads, if only to rule you out. I’m sure you understand.”
“I know my rights,” the monster said, his voice still even. “And I’m not letting you do anything without a warrant.”
“OK,” Houser said, pulling his boot from the doorway, then turning around and walking back to their car.
“Motherfucker,” Houser said once he and Chan were inside the cruiser. “She’s in there. I can fucking feel it.”
Chan put in a call to Judge Cleary seeking a warrant while Houser waited as patiently as he could, listening to Chan’s side of the conversation.
Come on, judge, don’t fuck this one up.
The tricky part of getting a warrant with this particular case was that the neighbor who alerted them to the suspicious activity, an old busybody named Earl Moody, had a long history of calling the cops on Jurgen for the sort of routine bullshit most neighbors handled themselves. In short, the two had bad blood, giving the judge enough cause to deny the warrant.
Chan’s voice went up an octave, letting Houser know where the conversation was headed.
Houser wanted to snatch the phone from his partner and rip Cleary a new one, but he was already on thin ice with Cleary, and was likely the reason the judge was giving Chan a hard time in the first place.
“Yes, your honor. Thank you,” Chan said, hanging up. He shook his head. “No dice.”
“Fuck!!” Houser screamed, slamming his fists into the steering wheel, then turning back to scowl at Jurgen’s house. The fucker was in his living room, peeking through his blinds at the cruiser.
Houser turned back to Chan. “You like this guy, right? It’s not just me.”
“Yeah, he’s hiding something, alright.”
“OK, we need to talk to more neighbors. See if we can find something from someone who isn’t the neighborhood douchebag, then ring Cleary back.”
Chan agreed, then suggested one of them hit the courthouse when it opened in the morning to see if they could find anything on the guy that wasn’t yet in the database. The courthouse was currently in the process — which seemed to be taking years — of moving their old records to online archives, so most of the crimes older than 10 years were still in their giant file vault.
Houser hated combing through old files slightly less than he hated sitting on his hands while Jurgen was inside his house with time to do God knows what, flushing evidence, arming himself to the teeth, raping the hell out of the girl, or whatever it was the condemned might do before the jaws of justice clamped on their ass.
Chan said, “Is that your way of saying you want me to go?”
Houser turned, with his biggest smile, “Pretty please?”
“You know I hate you, right?”
Houser laughed. “As if anyone could hate me. But one of us has to sit on this fucker in case he decides to bolt, and to be honest, I wanna be the first one through the door to knock the fucking smile from his face. And let’s face it, I’m a helluva lot faster than you if it comes to a foot chase.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. But you owe me.”
“Whatever you want, man. Just name it. I got dinner for the next week. OK?”
“Week? How about two?”
“Two? Do I look rich?”
“Richer than me. You don’t have a wife, kids, daycare bills, or any of that shit.”
“Wah, wah, I’m so jealous of your sexy, single life, Houser,” Houser said, mocking Chan playfully. “Alright, two fucking weeks. But you better find something we can take to Cleary!”
At 8:15 a.m., 15 minutes after the courthouse opened, Houser’s cell rang.
Chan was practically yelling into the phone. “Seems our guy got busted peeping in some windows 11 years ago. One of the windows was of a little girl. Somehow he got off with a slap on the wrist.”
“Fuck! OK, I’ll call Cleary,” Houser said.
“Too late,” Chan said. “I already did. Warrant has been issued.”
“I love you, man. Three weeks! On me. OK, I’m going in. I’ve got another unit here and we’re going in.”
“K, I’ll be over in five,” Chan said.
“Alright, Houser called into the radio, alerting the officers camped behind Jurgen’s house, and to the side, just out of the man’s line of sight. “Let’s get this fucker!”
Houser burst through the freshly kicked-in door, stunned to see Jurgen standing right in the living room, naked, and aiming a .45 at Houser.
Houser fired, but not before Jurgen.
Jurgen’s shot slammed into Houser’s Kevlar vest, knocking him to the filthy carpet, and clearing the air from his body.
Houser’s shot hit the man between the eyes, killing him instantly.
Sgt. Combs kneeled next to Houser, “You OK?”
Houser took a moment, sucking in air, feeling beneath his vest to make sure there was no blood, before nodding. He would be bruised as hell, but he’d live.
Four cops, in addition to Houser, began to scour the man’s place, searching for any sign of the child. Upstairs, in an unused bedroom, Houser picked up the fresh scent of paint, and noticed that the fresh color on the wall behind a large bookcase — the same color of yellow, but brighter than the rest of the room. Drywall dusted the carpet. Houser put a finger behind the bookcase and pulled it away, yellow.
“Get up here!” he shouted, pulling the bookcase to the floor and sending volumes pouring from the shelf and into a pile.
A large wet paint spot barely concealed a bad plastering job, covering a wide hole in the wall. Houser knocked on the wall twice
Houser heard a muffled cry.
His heart sped in his chest as the remaining officers poured into the room. Houser punched high where the wet spot started, straight through the quickly crumbling drywall, and began to tear a giant hole in the wall, throwing chunks of wet drywall to the ground.
Inside the wall, he found Cecilia, hands and feet bound, mouth gagged. Dark eyes staring up at him, barely clinging to life.
He reached into the wall and pulled her out, holding her closely. She was so tiny. And dirty, wearing the same pink, and now filthy, pajamas she’d been reported missing in.
“It’s okay, you’re safe now,” he said laying her on the floor.
“Get the paramedics in here!” one of the other officers shouted. Paramedics were on standby downstairs.
Houser pulled the gag from the girl.
“Thank you,” her tiny voice barely said as her eyes rolled to the back of her head.
“No, no, no,” Houser said, shaking his head and hoping to God she wasn’t gonna die. Not now, just seconds after they found her.
Two paramedics rushed into the room and began to give the girl CPR.
Houser watched, helplessly from behind, as they attempted to revive her.
But they couldn’t, despite an eternity of trying.
Cecilia Ramirez was dead.
Celia’s dying eyes and whisper of voice were immediately and forever etched into Houser’s memory.
As the officers began collecting evidence, and the paramedics rolled the girl’s body from the house, Houser stood, went downstairs, then into the back yard for a moment alone.
He wanted to cry.
He wanted to scream.
He wanted to fucking shoot something.
But eyes were on him, cops and neighbors, and soon the media’s.
Houser had to stand quietly, holding his rage, swallowing regret, and making silent vows that he would never, ever, let anything like this happen again. A late search warrant and overcautious judge had murdered Cecilia Ramirez, just as much as Richard Jurgen.
* * * *
Read the rest right now:
WhiteSpace: Episode 3 www.amazon.com/dp/B008391S1A/
Amazon UK www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008391S1A/