Guest Post: Jim Jackson

Today we welcome Jim Jackson, author of the Seamus McCree Mysteries, back to Mysteristas. Take it away, Jim!

Deep Texture

dr-cover-480x300When 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.

*****

DOUBTFUL RELATIONS

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 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.

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10 thoughts on “Guest Post: Jim Jackson”

  1. Jim, of course we were delighted! How could you say or think otherwise? 🙂

    I love the concept of “deep texture.” What our readers see is often the exterior layers. But we as authors need to understand those deeper layers so we can really push our characters and our stories to new heights. Or would it be new depths?

    Either way, thanks for visiting and I’ll be looking up Doubtful Relations!

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  2. Welcome back, Jim Jackson. I may have said it before, but I’ll say it again: Seamus McCree, there’s a fine Irish name! Congratulations and good wishes on your continued success! The books sounds fascinating!

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  3. So right! My drawing teacher always says that in order to draw a portrait, we need to understand the anatomy beneath. So many similarities to writing! Looking forward to checking out your books–they sound fascinating.

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  4. Delighted to have you visiting Mysteristas, Jim! Deep texture is such a cool concept. And, as a math geek, I enjoyed the article you referenced (not that I understood it all, mind you). Best of luck with Doubtful Relations!

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  5. Sue & Kait — I’m fascinated with the similarities you point out between drawing portraits and needed to understand the bone structure to writing. Not being able to draw anything more sophisticated than a stick man, it’s not something I would have thought of.

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  6. Kate — another math geek. I could follow some of the math in the article, but as soon as it got over my head, I looked at the pictures! Thanks for the good wishes.

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  7. Keenan — One of the things I have never doubted was the series character’s name. Seamus struck me as right on multiple layers. It’s the Irish name equivalent of James and a homophone play on shamus — Yiddish slang for a PI. McCree came to me one day and when I googled it and didn’t come up with a ton of hits, I knew I had his name.

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  8. Hi, Jim! I loved all of your post, but this especially hit home for me: “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.”

    My husband (who I refer to as LoML) and I celebrated our anniversary in early September by going to Sedona, Arizona. We took a day trip to Antelope Canyon (if you haven’t been you need to go) and experienced the below-ground cavernous miracles wrought my piled, wind-blown sand and floods. It was amazing. While there, we learned about people whose lives had been lost in flash floods and those amazing formations took on a more somber tone.

    Your post hit all of the pegs.

    Best wishes for your continued success!

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  9. This was delicious. I love the concept of the deep texture; it has my brain spinning in crazy new directions for some character sketches I’m working on. (Thanks!) It makes so much sense to me to look at the texture below the texture, if you will. Thanks for visiting!

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