Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post: Rock Killer by S. Evan Townsend

Today's guest is S. Evan Townsend, author of Rock Killer. S. Evan Townsend is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and two sons, aged 17 and 20, and has a 22-year old son attending the University of Washington in biology. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.
Here is a blurb of the science fiction novel:

          Space Resources, Inc. (SRI) mines asteroids for the riches a populated Earth needs without degrading the planet. Yet there are those opposed to progress in whatever its form such as the Gaia Alliance, a front group for eco-terrorists. During a violent attack on the Moon, the terrorists steal an exploration ship, arm it, and rename it the Rock Killer.
Charlene "Charlie" Jones of SRI security is trying to infiltrate the Gaia Alliance's cabal to find evidence linking them to the murder of her fiancé. But a run-in with the law threatens to reveal her identity to the dangerous men of the Alliance.
Simultaneously, SRI Director Alexander Chun is traveling to the asteroid belt to bring a kilometer-long nickel-iron rock back to Earth orbit to mine for its valuable metals. Following him and his multi-national team is the Rock Killer. Without armaments, millions of miles from help, Chun must stop those who threaten him and the lives of his crew.
Take it away, Evan!

         Writing Women Full Disclosure: I'm a middle-aged white male. But in my new novel Rock Killer, one of the main characters is a young African-American woman named Charlene "Charlie" Jones. How can I have the hubris to try to get into the head of this woman? Well, unlike Marvin Udall in the move As Good as it Gets, it's not that "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability." But I do approach women characters as being human. They aren't aliens, after all. At least I don't think they are.
It's sort of like horoscopes. They're complete B.S. I saw a television program once (I think it was the "Scientific American" program on PBS) where they went into a college classroom and got everyone's astrological sign. They might even have gone so far as to ask birthdate and time. Then they came back the next day and gave each student their personalized horoscope. After letting the students read it, they asked how many thought the horoscope described them very well. Most of the hands went up. Then they said, "Pass your horoscope to the person in front of you." And they discovered that every "horoscope" they passed out was exactly the same. Why? Because certain constants are true for every human being on this planet. And if they were raised and lived in a similar culture, those there are even more constants. So when writing any character, I have to keep those constants in mind. Even women.
But then there's infinite variety among humans depending on both nature and nurture. I've known woman who can field-strip an M16 and think hunting is a great pastime. I've known men who are devastated if their hand lotion smells wrong. I've known woman who are chemical engineers and men who are stay-at-home dads. There are broad similarities between people and there's infinite variety between people. Handling that is part of the challenge of being a writer.
And the funny thing about Charlie Jones is, she started as a man and a white man at that. Admittedly, she didn't spend long as a man. Since I sort of wrote the novel from the inside out (the first passage I wrote is the beginning of Chapter Eleven) when I wanted a character to work with the FBI, I originally made him a white man named Charlie Jones. But suddenly, he walked into the room and I decided to make him a woman. And then I decided to make her African-American when I realized she was going to be a major character and I started writing her background. Do I think there will be some differences between the thoughts, attitudes, and motivations of a white male and an African-American woman? Of course. But there will also be similarities. Sure, I had to re-write some scenes when Charlie turned out to be a woman. And it was difficult to get into her head until I wrote her complete history of growing up in St. Louis and how her grandmother influenced her. Then came the other problem with writing women: I fell just a wee bit in love with her.
Thank you for stopping by!


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