Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guestpost: The Origin of a Story by J.T. Bock

The Origin of a Story
by J.T. Bock

          In the beginning, I didn't know anything about the characters in my book, A Surefire Way. I had envisioned the first scene, the first action sequence. I knew what they were wearing: Surefire wore a gymnastics leotard and luchador mask, and Raven had on a tight black rock-climbing outfit and a Zorro-like mask.

          But who were they? What did they want out of life? How had they gotten here? And why the hell was my heroine wearing that ridiculous mask and leotard? Talk about a fashion don't. Even Carrie Bradshaw couldn't pull that look off.

          In comics, many heroes' names are alliterations: Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Bruce Banner ... you get the point. Someone explained to me that these heroes were named this way to make it easier for people, especially kids, to remember these character names. Not sure how true that reason is, but I decided to go that route with Surefire's real name: Synthia St. John.

          Has a nice ring to it. Plus, Synthia is a derivative of Cynthia, meaning from Mount Kynthos in Greece, the birthplace of Diana, the huntress.

          Thought it was a nice connection to Surefire's transhuman power—perfect aim. Plus, she's hunting Raven and about to catch him.

          Before she was an UltraAgent (a law-enforcement agent with extraordinary abilities), Surefire had been a gymnast, which is why she could easily balance on the metal beams in the warehouse, swoop down from the beams to the floor, climb vines out of dimensional portals, contort her body in Aztec ballgame. Like Batman's Robin, who worked the trapeze in the circus, Surefirecould use her skill to keep up with the bad guys in high-flying situations.
          But she missed out on her chance to go to the Olympics when she missed her landing on the balance beam because of a distraction. Years ago, I worked as a graphic designer at a small newspaper. A young ad salesman at my job had screwed up his chance at the Olympics trials, too. As a teen, he was a local ping pong champion and well on his way to playing in the Olympics until he lost out by a few points. After that, he hung up his paddle and refused to try again. A decision he regretted whenever he saw magazine ads for ping pong products featuring opponents he used to beat, who were still on the circuit, still competing, and still making money in the sport.

          Surefire didn't regret not making the team for the glory of hitting it big like her twin sister, but for the approval of her family, her father in particular. Which is why she is working at UltraSecurity and breaking the rules to catch this thief on her own—to prove her worth. When I was writing this story, I realized that her journey mirrored mine in a way. Because I pushed myself in writingSurefire's story to prove that I could do it, that I could be a writer and follow my dreams by believing in myself and not relying on the approval of others to take control of my passion and my life. This is Surefire's journey—belief in herself, not relying on others for approval, not having to prove her worth to receive love.

          It wasn't until I was revising the story that I realized her journey mirrored the villain as well. Ari wanted approval from the magic community. He wanted love and respect, but he went about it in a totally different way than Surefire. His narcissistic personality caused him to handle his rejection and need for respect by stopping at nothing—even murdering his cousin and possibly destroying the world—to find that fulfillment.

          Surefire had a few physical flaws—a bump on her nose from when it had been broken, a trick knee, mismatched eyes. I'm not one for heroines who are perfect. I'm not perfect. I want to read about women who are like me, who have physical as well as emotional flaws and who can still find love and fulfillment in spite of not being perfect. You don't have to be Snow White, beautiful and sweet with an amazing singing voice that soothes any woodland creatures. Surefire's physical flaws remind her of her mistakes and how she doesn't want to make them again.

          Her eyes have a genetic flaw. I had watched 28 Days Later as I was writing this story, and the young boy, who was immune to the zombie virus, had two-tone eyes. I decided to use that feature for my heroine because of her being a twin, and this abnormality occurs with twins. Also, I wondered if this was an indicator of her transhuman sure shot ability, just like the boy's eyes in 28 Days Later marked him as special.

         Looking back on the journey of writing this story, it's interesting how so many things from pop culture to mythology to a friend at work to my personal conflict influenced my heroine's traits and her journey.

About the Book:

          Surefire just broke the number one rule of her employer, UltraSecurity, a niche security firm that solves crimes committed by genetically enhanced humans like Raven. She trailed Raven into a warehouse without backup. And something more powerful than any transhuman is waiting inside.

          Raven’s plan is simple: Atone for his past crimes. Return stolen spiritual artifacts to restore the world’s balance. Don’t get caught by UltraSecurity.

Easy, right?

          Until a spunky UltraSecurity agent is suddenly on his tail, although Raven wishes she was on … well, never mind … he can’t get distracted from his mission. Because she’s followed him into a warehouse filled with his reclaimed relics, and Raven’s ex-partner in crime is about to unleash a supernatural-sized complication into his plan.

          His old partner has accidentally summoned an Aztec god who will destroy the world unless Raven stops this spirit with a superiority complex. To do this, Raven must team up with Surefire and reveal the truth about his powers, exposing her to a force that can either save the world or destroy them both.

          Following Raven into that warehouse throws Surefire into a surreal world filled with moody gods, day-glo skulls, dizzying dimensional portals, maniacal half-roach magicians, and a sexy thief who is more than he appears under his snug t-shirt. Is Raven a criminal, or is he working for a higher power? Surefire needs to be certain, because if she joins him on this mission, she’ll have to surrender everything she believed in for a surefire way to save the world, discover her destiny and find true love.

About the Author:

          When J.T. Bock was a child, she wanted to be James Bond or Indiana Jones or a vampire hunter or Wonder Woman. Whatever brought her the most action, adventure and romance while play acting on her stage—otherwise known as her grandmother’s basement. Now J.T. has assembled her own team of action heroes, supernatural creatures and maniacal villains and set them on adventures far from her basement to exotic lands and alternate dimensions.

          From a secret location outside of Washington, DC, J.T. conjures these pulse-pounding tales to share with those kindred readers looking for an exciting escape. Her alternate identity enjoys spending time with her workaholic husband and their sidekick rescue dog, traveling to interesting locales (San Diego Comic-Con), and enjoying life to the fullest with an amazing group of family and friends and a good glass of wine.

          Check out J.T.’s latest adventures on her website (www.jtbock.com) or find her by flashing her initials in the sky, opening up her favorite bottle of Pinot Noir, or by email at jennifer@jtbock.com.


  1. Thank you for hosting me on your blog. It was a fun experience to share the story behind my book.