James Logan–gentleman planter or pirate?

[Jack] looked upward to see the man who had ordered…them on deck. There was authority and a savage handsomeness to him. His narrow hazel stare pierced [Jack], pressed him back tighter against his mother, stole his breath. The man’s dark blond hair hung thin and loose to his broad shoulders, wisps of it falling from beneath his hat and across his eyes. Haunted, restless eyes. He wiped a spatter of blood from his hawkish nose with what looked to be the remnants of a shirt held in his hand, his long thin lips set in a line of annoyance among the tawny bristles of his goatee. His clothes, though worn, showed a certain care compared to the haphazardness of his men, as if he had brushed the royal blue justaucorps before coming aboard and had made an effort to don new stockings. Silk; stolen undoubtedly. He held a cutlass in his right hand; in his left was the ragged shirt. In a smooth, almost savoring way he drew the blade through the rag to wipe away the shine of fresh blood, then he tossed the cloth at John’s feet and sheathed his weapon with a sibilant hiss.

And thus you are introduced to James Logan at the beginning of The Prodigal. Jack Mallory sees him as a murdering thief but the reader learns things about the real James Logan of which Jack is ignorant. The reader becomes aware of Logan’s double life and of his deep, possessive love of a woman, a love that drives many of his decisions and motivations.

James Logan was a fun character to write. He started out as a rather straightforward antagonist but grew into something much more layered. Though he does not get his own point of view in The Prodigal, hopefully I have written him so that–seen through the eyes of other characters–he is understood, if not warmly embraced by the reader. Sometimes I don’t even think of him as an antagonist.

If the reader looks deep enough, he will realize as he progresses through the story that Jack Mallory and James Logan are not as different as the two men believe themselves to be. Both have suffered great loss and hold a bitterness against the world for it. The mix of differences and similarities between the two made their relationship always a refreshing journey for me. Hopefully my readers will enjoy it just as much as I.

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9 Responses to James Logan–gentleman planter or pirate?

  1. dasNdanger says:

    Ya know, I forgot how good you were at descriptions. This is something I find lacking in modern writing; there is a distancing from descriptive prose, especially how a character looks, and even his actions. That passage – I could SEE everything that was happening – and that’s what I want from a story. Now, if you could only print the damn thing out for me so I don’t have to read it from a computer screen! πŸ˜€


    • susankeogh says:

      It’s funny you should mention descriptions because Pawz and I were just talking the other day after her father’s comment to her about me having too much description. I was saying to her how female readers seem to enjoy and want more descriptive writing than male readers. What was it her father said? Something about “put it in a footnote”. LOL. Personally I don’t think I have enough description, especially when I consider my favorite writer Pat O’Brian. Interestingly enough, a large portion of his readers (I would guess) are and were men.

  2. silentpawz says:

    Yes, he said to put it in a footnote, LOL. I want it as part of the story, damn it! I don’t want to have to stop reading and refer to a footnote for something that’s carrying me along in the moment!

    The difference between men and women. πŸ™‚

  3. dasNdanger says:

    More and more modern writers are leaving out the description. I think this is why books don’t hold my attention. When I used to read Agatha Christie, I could see Poirot as if he was standing right in front of me. Now when I read a story, not only can’t I see the characters, I find that I don’t care about them, either. I NEED the description to care, and to want to keep reading. I guess that’s why I got so hooked on Elric – the first paragraph I read was this:

    “It is the color of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the color of bone.”

    Because of that passage I could ‘see’ Elric, and because I could see him, I could care about him and what happened to him.

    I do think women write differently, and also want something different from their stories. But I also think it’s the modern ‘style’, with some writers even coming out and saying that it is a no-no to describe the appearance of characters, and to describe how they say something other than to say, ‘he said’…but never say, ‘he cried’, or ‘he shouted’, or ‘he mumbled’. What the hell? How am I supposed to get into a story if I can’t tell the emotional state of the characters?? But that’s supposedly how it’s done…enter, stage right, our non-descript hero, and he’s going to say this and that, and you’re supposed to be intrigued. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way with me.

    I just ranted. πŸ˜›


    • susankeogh says:

      Yay for rants! I have to admit that I haven’t read any recent fiction of any kind. When I’m not reading a book for research, I’ll re-read books like “The Killer Angels” or the Aubrey/Maturin series because it seems that when I’m reading something of that quality, it improves my writing quality. I’ve considered getting a Kindle just so that I might be inspired by the new technology to read something written more recently than, say, O’Brian. I’m one of the few people on the earth who has not read the Harry Potter series, which I should do strictly from a professional point of view if nothing else to help myself understand the success of that series.

      I’ll always remember reading an historical novel written not too many years ago about the Battle of the Crater during the Civil War. While the story was interesting, the fact that the characters used language that did not “sound like” or fit with the language of that era turned me off. For example, one character (or more, I can’t remember) referred to his children as his “kids.” Never in my Civil War research and reading did I ever read/hear of children being referred to as “kids” back then (and I certainly read my fair share of primary sources). Maybe I’m too picky, but that was just plain lazy writing to me. Trust me, I’d love to use the word “ain’t” in the dialogue of The Chronicles, but from the entomology I’ve seen, “ain’t” wasn’t used until after the era of my stories.

  4. dasNdanger says:

    Well, kids, ain’t that the berries. πŸ˜€

    I’ve read a lot of Moorcock recently, and his style is very simplistic – more along the lines of pulp fiction writing. It’s not brainy stuff. I do get lost if something is a bit too complicated, so maybe that’s why I enjoy Moorcock’s writing (his writing is simplistic, his intertwined multiverses and characters are quite mind-boggling, however – like Dr. Who, without the Tardis). I’m not sure about Harry Potter, other than it appealed to young people, just like the (supposedly poorly written) Twilight series has done. I wonder what it is that young people like about those stories – is it the angst? The description? Something else?

    You know what you might want to try? Lou Anders has just put out two anthology books – one is Fantasy (Swords and Dark Magic) and the other is Superheroes (Masked). I have both; only read a short Elric story in the Swords and Dark Magic, but have read a couple in Masked, and they are GREAT! Gail Simone, one of the best comic book writers of our day – and one of the only successful female comic book writers – has a story in it. The way she tells the story is just fanastic, imho – very different from what I expected (she’s also a very funny, and VERY twisted, lady πŸ˜€ ). She even said that she hadn’t written prose in a while, and wasn’t quite sure how this turned out, but it is one of my favorite short stories, ever. It might be worth picking a book like that up because it deals with the same genre, but many different ways of telling a story in that genre. I know you might not be all into the superhero stuff, but it’s worth a try.

    Also, if you’re interested, you should stop by Mallozzi’s blog (he also has a story in Masked – his first attempt at prose). He has a book of the month thing going on, with Q&As with the authors. It’s very easy and laid back, and a GREAT place to ask writer and writing-related questions. You can also watch me make a fool out of myself there. πŸ™‚



  5. dasNdanger says:

    Oops. πŸ˜›

    Look at it this way, though. Lou Anders – that anthology publisher – reads Joe’s blog, as do other authors. It’s a good way to have contact with other writers – to see how they handle stuff. Go back, read some of the Q&As with other authors, and such. Very enlightening, at times. Joe can be rather snarky, but if you ask him sincere questions about the writing process, etc., and not attack him over Stargate stuff, then you shouldn’t have a problem. He’s very approachable, imho. (He avoids requests to help get stories read/published, but I doubt you’d be silly enough to ask him something like that.)


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