Friday, April 20, 2012

All I Needed to Know about Being Bad I Learned From Soap Operas…

All I Needed to Know about Being Bad I Learned From Soap Operas…
by Jami Gray

My BFF and I were chatting over our Passion Tea Lemonades made by our favorite baristas the other day when our conversation turned towards the demise of the soap opera.  You know what I’m talking about. Whether you want to admit that you ever watched (or maybe still do!) those oldie but goodies with familiar names like “General Hospital”, “One Life to Live”, “As The World Turns”, and “All My Children”, they seem to be going the way of 8 track tapes.  Wait, is that too old? Okay, the way of the cassette tapes (better, right?).

We were lamenting on the fact that the current batch of bad guys just don’t seem to be up to snuff like their predecessors. Granted some of those Big Bad’s are still around, some names have changed, the hair has a little more gray or white to it, and there may be a few more ‘character lines’ on the face, but seriously, they’ve turned into a bunch of whinny brats.  No wonder the younger generation of evil has become so annoying if this is what they have to model on.

I haven’t watched soap operas since my late teens.  Back then, I was mesmerized by how much I really, really liked the bad guys. I mean, they were soooo good at being bad, never apologizing for their actions, they just reveled in their wicked way, proud and loving it!  Now, from what my BFF has shared, every villain has to have some “raison d’etre” behind why the dark side call so strongly to them.  Their childhood was a roller coaster ride of nightmares, the good girl/boy was held up to them as the prime example of what they were expected to be, waaaa  waaaa waaaa.

Really? What happened to men and woman who had no qualms about worming their way into families and communities, only to stand back and laugh manically while the whole town fell apart, all due to carefully laid evil plans they spent agonizing hours/days meticulously piecing together? There was no whining of past imagined wrongs, no politically correct excuses spouted about unfair expectations that twisted them into who they became, no heartfelt explanations with accompanied artful tears of how they really are a good person—deep down—but it’s everyone else’s fault they chose this twisted path of darkness.

Maybe it’s because my memory tends to get more selective each year, but I remember when the villains were bade because THEY LIKED IT!  They loved the drama, the arguments, the fights, the backstabbing, the betrayals and as each tear fell, their smiles grew bigger and their plots deliciously more twisted.  There were no excuses.  They were good at being bad and they loved getting up in the mornings (and night) and get to work on the next big thing.

So maybe that’s why I tend to favor the darker edge of writing.  I love Urban Fantasy, the twists and turns it allows both a writer and reader to take, it’s like a mental roller coaster ride that never ends. 
One of the best lessons on plot that I have ever learned, stems from my years of soap opera fascination (thank you, mom!).  There are a lot of elements that go into a good story, but a strong, intriguing plot is a definite must have!  Plots, in soap operas, had so many twists and turns, it was a miracle if your head didn’t spin off your neck most times. Plus, just as you had it all figured out—BOOM—they switched it all up on you, and the roller coaster was back to stomach dropping speed.  Who was really your friend? Who was really jabbing that knife deep in your spine with a beatific smile?

Those writers were my idols, they were so good!  They seemed to be unhampered by society’s need to have an excuse or reason for every bad action. They were my introduction into the gray world that exists between black and white…or what you think is black and white.  They showed me how to think outside the box of character motivation, shake it like an etch-a-sketch, then follow along as my characters face their worlds—without apologies.

Hot Dang girl! Fabulous post and your books are on my TBR and may be on my Kindle in a whole second. Those covers and blurbs are fabulous! 

Blurb for Shadow’s Edge:
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…
It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking.  Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.

When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head.  Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Blurb for Shadow’s Soul:
Some nightmares are born of love…
Raine McCord has no problem taking down the monsters of the world, it’s one of the reasons she’s so good at her job.  So playing bodyguard to Cheveyo, head Magi of the Northwest, as he consults with the Southwest Kyn should be an easy assignment. Unfortunately, simple task turns into a nightmare when Cheveyo is kidnapped and Raine is left for dead by one of the Kyn’s most feared beings, a Soul Stealer.
The Stealer’s attack leaves lasting wounds, undermining Raine’s confidence as a warrior and damaging her unruly magic. Her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.  Compelled to face the emotions raging between them, they must embrace not only their stormy relationship but their evolving magic to escape the twisted threads of murder and betrayal to find Cheveyo.
As Raine and Gavin come together and begin to unravel the complex web of secrets and hidden vendettas haunting the Southwest Kyn, they discover unsettling new truths that threaten their very existence.

Growing up on the Arizona-Mexico border, Jami Gray was adopted at the age of 14 and suddenly became the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater.  Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.

Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where  she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab.  Writing is what saves her sanity.

Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles is out now and Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles hits shelves Summer 2012.

You can find me at:
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  1. Much love and thanks to Bri for hosting me! I had fun with this one!

    1. You are welcome at anytime and I am so sorry it's took me so long to reply.

  2. Another great post, Jami. I loved Guiding Light. For years and years I watched it and was so sad when it went off the air a couple of years ago. That was the only one I was addicted to. Alan Spaulding was the 'bad guy'. Rich, handsome, did what he wanted with no explanation. It was great.

  3. Jami, I completely agree with you. I absolutely loved General Hospital. Still do, to a certain extent. I will never forget many bad guys who showed up on screen. They were the characters you loved to hate or loved to love.

    I certainly use a lot of soap opera concepts when I write because I like to keep people guessing as well. I love a good twist in a book that I didn't see coming.

    Awesome post!

  4. Hi Jami and Bri. My was the Young and the Restless. Now I'm addicted to Revenge, Criminal Mind, NCIS LA, and anything crime drama. Best of luck with both books.

  5. Thanks guys! Yep, I had General Hospital and All My Children that my mom had recorded on VCR (dates me, I know!) and we'd gather around after school to get our fix!

  6. I'm struggling a little with making my current WIP dramatic, and you've made think it's b/c my bad guy isn't BAD enough. Hmm...

    (What Would Erica Kane Do?)

  7. Ok, you got my dates right. I remember 8 tracks, casettes and all the above soap opera's. I also was a closet bad boy lover. Being raised in a strict Irish Catholic family if you had any bad thoughts you were rushed to confession. lol, great childhood memories and great post.

  8. Thank each of you lovely ladies for supporting Jami by commenting. She wrote a great post that really help me out as well. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Alas I own a literary strategy company and speak on top of being an author. Between my blog tour and a conference my I got way behind.