Today we welcome Jim Jackson, author of the Seamus McCree Mysteries, back to Mysteristas. Take it away, Jim!
When Mary Sutton (aka Liz Milliron) said Mysteristas would be delighted to have me return to Mysteristas (well, that’s my word for it, she can tell you in the comments what she really thought), she said, “Our monthly theme is ‘texture, but you can do whatever.”
There’s a deep down piece of me that believes guest bloggers should support the blogs that offer them space, and one way to do that is to stick to their themes. Given the timing of my blog at the end of the month, others have already discussed the feel of texture, the layering of texture, the rich, textured descriptions a skilled author paints with words used and words left out. It’s all great stuff, leaving me—what? Those who know me know I was not going to bail and write “whatever.”
And it hit me: how about deep texture? Humans can apply makeup in base layers, shadows, color schemes, using broad strokes and feathering techniques. The effects can take one face and change all the way from Alice Cooper goth to Doris Day pure. Underneath the makeup, however, the bone structure has not changed.
With a bit of hubris, I searched on the term “deep texture” to see if I had invented the nomenclature. Hardly, but I did come upon a fascinating paper out of U Mass. Feel free to ignore the math and concentrate on the pictures that illustrate the transformation caused by different “masks.” Here’s the link, now hurry back y’all. [Short article intro here, longer w/ more pictures PDF here.)
Welcome back. (Whew! I was worried I might lose you with those fascinating pictures.) Now, consider this picture of Tybee Island beach at low tide. The sand has texture, for sure, and a skilled author could make us feel the undulations beneath our bare feet. But the deep texture of the scene is what caused the sand to form that way. Wave action and water depth and I don’t know what else molded that sand differently than its sister grains of loose stuff above the high tide line. It’s difficult to change that hardened form without something major happening to bulldoze the area—a hurricane would do.
The same can be said of the deep texture of personality, the moral and attitudinal equivalent of our skeleton. It’s that deep texture that forms my decision to write this blog, not something about “whatever.” The underlying warp and woof of our lives are often formed from early experiences. That’s what I chose to explore in Doubtful Relations.
For Seamus McCree a major event was the death of his father when Seamus was a grade-schooler. The texture of his life is constrained by his fierce family loyalty and a need to be in control. His mother, his son, his ex-wife, all have their own moral frameworks and supporting structures, and they are all threatened by the hurricane of a missing family member. The external texture of their lives can’t help but change as the winds of crisis push and pull them, threatening to blow them off their feet or drown them in loss.
Will all of their internal structures weather the storm, or will some break under the fierce pressure. And if someone’s internal structure breaks down and is reformed, how does that change the texture of his or her life? Well, I see I’m out of time, so I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out the answers.
Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree has wife problems, and Lizzie’s not even his wife anymore. Her current husband disappeared while traveling, and Lizzie turns to Seamus for help.
Equal parts road trip, who done what, and domestic thriller, Doubtful Relations takes psychological suspense to a new level. Seamus McCree fans and newcomers alike will delight in this fast-paced novel that leaves no one in the family unchanged and keeps you guessing until the very end.
Available online or from your favorite Indy bookseller. You can find direct online links at http://jamesmjackson.com/Novels/doubtful-relations.html
James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree mystery series. ANT FARM, BAD POLICY, CABIN FEVER, and the recently released DOUBTFUL RELATIONS. Jim splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the open spaces of Georgia’s Lowcountry. He is the current president of the 600+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. You can find information about Jim and his books at http://jamesmjackson.com.