Thursday, September 8, 2011

There Is Only One Truth: An Interview With Jerry Hanel

Today, I'm taking with Jerry Hanel author of the paranormal mysteries Death Has A Name and Thaloc Has A Body featuring his psychic detective character, Brodie Wade.

1) Tell us about your about your books.

Brodie Wade is an unusual character. He's timid, broken and not your usual John Wayne-like hero. He sees into a realm that he calls The Truth. When an apparition from that realm manifests, he can't control it. Nor does he want to see it. He wants it to go away and leave him alone.

His best friend is a police detective named Phil Dawson. Phil is a big, round, lovable teddy-bear of a man. He's meticulous and at times gruff, but always has the best intentions. Whenever he runs into cold cases that need to be solved, he calls on Brodie to see if there are any facts about the case that are struggling to break free and become known. At least, that's how it should work.

But in the cases of the two stories here, Phil's dilemma is that the cases aren't cold, yet, and they are already beyond bizarre. He calls Brodie in to investigate the fresh cases, which causes all sorts of oddities. For one, the fresher a scene is, the more violent The Truth's manifestations become. Brodie must walk a fine line between losing his sanity, solving the case, and staying alive.

2) What is distinct about Brodie Wade from other psychic detectives?

Most of the other "psychic detective" mechanics I've seen to date rely on the psychic initiating the event. They touch a photo, or go into a trance, or in some way make themselves available to step into that other place. Brodie doesn't have a choice. The Truth imposes itself at the worst possible times, not just at a scene. Because no one else can see these manifestations, Brodie has been declared Schizophrenic three different times in his life, even as a child, spending the vast majority of his life before meeting Phil in a mental institution.

The institution didn't cure Brodie of his visions, but it did give him the tools by which he has learned to hide the manifestations from those around him to at least give the appearance of sanity.

3) How do you think the paranormal elements enhance the thriller aspect of your work?

The main paranormal twist to these stories is a concept called The Truth. The Truth is an awkward concept to explain. Imagine if events that happen around inanimate objects were somehow ingrained into the space around that area. Now, imagine that as you are going about your business, things would pop up out of nowhere and threaten your life until you heard every last drop of detail they wanted to tell you.

That's what Brodie has to deal with, all while trying to maintain the appearance of sanity. There are many times that he doesn't know, himself, if he is actually crazy. Those awkward moments when The Truth pops in unannounced cause extreme tension in Brodie, and I believe that tension translates to the reader, keeping the action fast, furious and on fire.

4) How did you come up with the character of Brodie Wade?

My original story for Death Has a Name was a who-dunnit basic crime novel. I wanted an odd psychic guy to come in as an expert for a scene to give it a twist. The more I wrote the scene, the more I really enjoyed this guy. His name was Brodie. He didn't even have a last name at the time. He was just "Brodie." 

I stepped back from a work that was an absolute mess and was getting worse. I was absolutely frustrated. I wanted writing to be fun, so I decided to write more about this character I really liked. You know, maybe take him into the next scene with Drake (the main character at the time). The more I wrote, the more I really loved this guy. He was odd. Quirky. Freaky... Interesting. Very interesting.

In a blur of frustration, I scrapped the original story and wrote the first three chapters of the novel in one sitting. Those chapters have undergone several transformations in the writing process, but in that flash of creativity, Brodie was born. For the first time in a long time, I felt that I enjoyed writing, and I could see the whole plot right in front of me. It felt right.

5) The Truth is a fascinating and unusual concept in paranormal thriller. How did you come up with the idea of The Truth for this book?

I wanted to explain to readers part of what I believe about life. There is an absolute truth. In today's world where what we believe to be true depends on what we've learned in our education, our families, our pastors, our friends, etc., we've moved away from the fact that no matter what we believe to be true, there is, in fact, one item that IS true. And that item cannot be wished away. We can't simply believe it into becoming something that it is not. It is what it is, and it will always be that. It is unchangable. Immutable. Solid as stone.

How can I convey such a concept? Enter The Truth. It is real, whether Brodie wants it to be or not. And it tells the events that occurred or will occur, whether we want to believe them or not. And many times, like the mundane truth that I mentioned above, it must be deciphered through a specific knowledge or event to be understood, otherwise it is like garbled nothingness to the person who hears it.

6) You already have two books out. How many books do you have planned featuring Brodie Wade?

There is a final book in the works right now. I'm holding back on the name at the moment, but it will be Brodie's big test. Brodie is a lovable character, and I've been told that I could keep going with him for years, but I started the series with three specific books in mind. And I will wrap up the third book with a measure of finality. 

Every story has an end. The worst injustice you can do to a good story is to write past the end and try to keep a story alive that really wants to fade away. I believe that the third book is where Brodie will reach the end of his particular story.

Now, keep in mind that Brodie is very dear to me. He is the first major character that really captured my attention. I've written thousands of other characters in so many yet-to-be-published stories. But Brodie is my favorite. He will undoubtedly appear in future works, just not ones where he is the star. Keep an eye out for random cameo appearances.


Thanks, Jerry.

No comments: