Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scavenger Hunt & Guest Post: Heaven Should Fall

Celebrating the release of her new novel, Heaven Should Fall, Rebecca Coleman is again teasing her readers by releasing the first chapter of her novel.  In order to catch the chapter, you need to follow along the participating blogs in the scavenger hunt, all of which you can find on Book Trib.  Have fun, folks!!

Alone since her mother’s death, Jill Wagner wants to eat, sleep and breathe Cade Olmstead when he bursts upon her life—golden, handsome and ambitious. Even putting college on hold feels like a minor sacrifice when she discovers she’s pregnant with Cade’s baby. But it won’t be the last sacrifice she’ll have to make.

Retreating to the Olmsteads’ New England farm seems sensible, if not ideal: Jill and Cade will regroup and welcome the baby, surrounded by Cade’s family. But the remote, ramshackle place already feels crowded. Cade’s mother tends to his ailing father, while Cade’s pious sister, her bigoted husband and their rowdy sons overrun the house. Only Cade’s brother, Elias, a combat veteran with a damaged spirit, gives Jill an ally amidst the chaos, along with a glimpse into his disturbing childhood. But his burden is heavy, and she alone cannot kindle his will to live.

The tragedy of Elias is like a killing frost, withering Cade in particular, transforming his idealism into bitterness and paranoia. Taking solace in caring for her newborn son, Jill looks up to find her golden boy is gone. In Cade’s place is a desperate man willing to endanger them all in the name of vengeance…unless Jill can find a way out.

We separated while the soldiers all regrouped to turn in their government property. Cade and I retrieved the Saturn and pulled it around to the pickup lanes, idling as we watched Elias make his way through baggage claim. As soon as he was outside, he stopped in front of the open automatic doors and lit a cigarette. Other travelers moved around him, casting shy reproachful glances in his direction. 

“Eli,” Cade shouted. “Over here.”

Guest Post

Cade’s takes a dramatic turn after Elias’s tragedy. Can you tell us a little more about how you developed his character?
by Rebecca Coleman
               There's a certain type of guy who makes a good romantic hero: good-looking (of course), ambitious but willing to set aside quality time for the woman he loves, passionate, principled and charming-- well, you know the drill. When I go into middle schools for Career Day-- amazingly, they still let me do that after The Kingdom of Childhood-- I hold up a copy of Twilight and talk about how the two romantic heroes, Edward and Jacob, are conflations of everything women stereotypically love about men. And on the surface, Cade-- the guy who loves my protagonist, Jill, in Heaven Should Fall-- is a guy like that, too.
               But as the reader slowly discovers, a man like Cade-- one who feels things deeply, is driven to feel relevant in the world, and believes he is a notch above most people he meets-- is especially vulnerable when things don't go his way. He wants to feel in control of his world, and believes he deserves to. As he feels his influence slipping, the ability Jill once observed in him-- to "find his passion and follow the prize of it like a polestar"-- corrupts into a desperate determination to matter, at whatever cost.
               And so the "dramatic" turn that Cade takes after a crisis strikes his family is not as jarring as it first appears. He's the same guy as ever, only angry now, and with his judgment clouded by grief. This is an aspect of characterization that has long fascinated me. No real human being is entirely good or entirely evil; each person has something they want-- out of life, or out of a particular situation-- and will act, sometimes in ways that conflict with the values they profess, in the service of that goal. That's not inconsistency-- that's humanity. And so while Cade spends most of the book dismissing his brother-in-law Dodge as an ignorant redneck, when Dodge provides him with a route to his goal, the desires of Cade's ego trump his opinion of the man.
               To me, the more deeply conflicted the character, the easier they are to write. A sense of uncertainty and struggle is something I understand, while moral certainty can feel foreign and even false. Like Zach in The Kingdom of Childhood, I saw Cade as a man wrestling with the angel; it wasn't hard to get inside their heads, because in one way or another, I've been there, too. And I think that's what the writing gurus really mean when they say, "write what you know." Every time I sit down to start a new novel I must research places and people, hobbies, music and occupations, learning it all from scratch. But a protagonist who struggles between love and anger, one who means well but often stumbles-- ah. I write what I know.

About Rebecca Coleman:
Rebecca received her B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland at College Park and speaks to writers’ groups on the subjects of creative writing and publishing. Her manuscript for her critically-acclaimed first novel, The Kingdom of Childhood, was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition.

A New Yorker by birth, Rebecca grew up in the close suburbs of Washington, D.C. in an academic family. After studying elementary education for several years, she graduated with a degree in English, awarded with honors.

Rebecca lives and works near Washington, D.C. with her husband and their four young children. Visit <> .