Friday, September 1, 2017

The Character Driven Thriller Crime Novel Will Guarantee Readers the Shock of a Lifetime . . . .

 Chris Rice Cooper 

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1.  Chris Rice Cooper’s analysis of M.V. Ghiorghi’s Blood Matter
“A Shock to the Reader!”

2.  M.V. Ghiorghi:  How I Got The Idea to Write Blood Matter

3.  Blood Matter:  Excerpts

1.  Chris Rice Cooper’s analysis of M.V. Ghiorghi’s Blood Matter
“A Shock to the Reader!”

On November 20, 2015 Divertir Publishing
published Blood Matter by M.V. Ghiorghi 
The Prologue of Blood Matter begins with the execution of an unrepentant and violent death row inmate.  It ends with a mentally unstable mother who abandons her newborn baby on the railroad tracks.

Unknowingly, these two events of the Prologue have lasting affects on FBI Agent Joe Vasquez.  Vasquez is already haunted by many sorrows: his father’s murder; the death of his beloved mother Isabella; the death of six-month-old son Alberto from sudden infant death syndrome; and the painful divorce from wife Lane.
These demons of sorrow have left Vasquez feeling empty and full of void. He can no longer sleep in the master bedroom he shared with his wife and he refuses to remove anything from Alberto’s room including his baby blanket and crib.  All he has left is his career in law enforcement and the memories of his dead loved ones.
Then his life takes a twisted turn when he encounters two serial killers: Doll-maker and Viper.  The mysterious Viper sadistically tortures and kills men who are on death row or serving life terms for murder.  How does Viper manage to kill these men?  Is it someone from the prison – perhaps another inmate?  But then Viper somehow manages to get out of prison into the outside world and in the process fatally shoots Joe’s partner Steve. (image attributed to Frederik Ruysch)
Joe is even more wounded and memories of his dead partner Steve and his dead loved ones continue to haunt him with more intensity.  At first appearance it seems that Joe is out for revenge – to catch a serial killer who killed his partner.  But it is more than that – Joe is a complicated figure who places all of his energy into this case because literally he has nothing left.  It is his only chance of redemption.  Maybe if he solves this case his demons will go away and his wounded spirit will begin to heal? 
Joe learns that forensic psychiatrist Dr. Gabrielle Lubovich at one time interviewed Viper’s victims.  Dr. Lubovich is a charismatic, youthful, beautiful woman with a past of her own.  Soon he learns of her connections with Congressman Damien Sheppard who was at one time a full time Professor of Psychiatry at the Dallas Graduate Institute, the same institute Gabrielle attended. Joe’s intuition is now telling him that Gabrielle has something to hide and he finds himself attracted to her physical beauty and her mysterious nature.
He then learns information that leads him to believe that Gabrielle is on the death list of both the Doll-maker and the Viper.   He then realizes that there is still love in his heart for someone else:  he is in love with Gabrielle.

Every word in Blood Matter matters – excuse the pun.  It matters to the point where the reader will want to go back and reread certain sections, especially the Prologue, and only then realize the connections. (Image attributed to Teodors Oders)
Blood Matter is a character driven crime novel full of authentic colorful characters (some are not even mentioned in this piece due to spoiler alerts).  Yet Blood Matter also has the characteristics of a crime noir novel: suspense, gun battles, car chases, chases on a moving train, fights, sex, mystery, blackmail, and plenty of eye-opening surprises. 
It is also a well-researched book and reveals realistic descriptive scenes on the FBI, Law Enforcement, forensics, the happenings on death row, and the dark forces of DNA.

2.  M.V. Ghiorghi’s Explains Where She Got The Idea for Blood Matter
M.V. Ghiorghi grew up in Russian Caucasus. When the simmering war flared up in the turbulent region, the author’s parents were persuaded to let their Georgian/Jewish mutt offspring seek a future in the U.S. The author arrived with a one-way ticket, $400, and a suitcase filled with manuscripts in Russian written during school breaks. 
After a few years, the author became proficient in and fell in love with the English language. Blood Matter is this aspiring actor and filmmaker’s first novel.  Below she explains how the idea of Blood Matter first came to her and her experience of writing the novel.
Years back, in Caucasus, my father had a childhood friend (Alex) who dabbed in black magic when they were kids. More precisely, my dad was a kid, and Alex was an older teenager in love with my aunt, and for this reason befriended my father, her little brother, and let him tag along.
In his magical training, Alex followed an old, prerevolutionary Russian book. The training included tricks like digging up graves, killing black cats to dissect them at a cemetery at night, in order to extract a certain bone, etc. Pretty much, a training to foster a psychopath.
These ‘tests of the will’ prepared one to perform psychic following of test subjects (one lay in bed at night and imagined coming up the stairs of the test-subject’s house, entering the bedroom, and strangling him, for example), causing them night terrors, tripping people while they walked by. All that amounted to a sort of hypnosis from the distance.  Later, as an adult, Alex became a psychiatric professor in Leningrad- and made quite a name for himself as a hypnotizer. He was unusual- he did not need the subject’s permission to hypnotize them, which is considered ‘impossible.’ (Hypnotic Seance by Richard Bergin)
So naturally, growing up, I was fascinated by my father’s stories about this man’s ability.
Much later, as a student, while in Moscow, I tried to write to him. His response discouraged any further contact- probably because by then my sister managed to visit Leningrad- and to spurn his son (a somewhat crazy young psychiatrist to be), just as my aunt spurned Alex in their youth, and so Alex had a very scant contact with my dad and our family. (Photo of author as a little girl with her father).
And so the theme percolated and percolated- and different pieces were coming together for years.
Meanwhile, I came to the US after graduation from Moscow University, (on left) learned English, and started to write my stories down- as screenplays (my English wasn’t ripe for novels.)
Then, I got divorced and went to a private graduate school in Oregon (because I couldn’t find a job at the time to support myself and my son, and their PHD research-assistantship paid 20,000 a year.) I ended up programming (which I hated) for near 70 hours a week. I had to continue writing somehow to keep sane, so I would write at my computer at school when I was supposed to study or be developing mathematical models, and managed, being a student, a researcher, and a mom to a young boy, to complete only 2 screenplay in those 2 years, one of them ‘Blood Matter’ (I called ‘Evil Blood’ at the time.)
Naturally, they booted me out of the program after 2 years with a non-thesis Master, instead of a PHD after 4.
I tried to pitch ‘Evil Blood at a Willamette writers’ conference in Portland around that time, and even sent the script to a few minor producers I met there- with no response whatsoever.
And then the show Dexter came out- and I got scared since there were so many similarities with my story, and didn’t show or talk about the script with anyone for years.
About 5 years ago, as I felt more confident about my English, I decided to turn that script into a novel. (By then, I was married again- to a very supportive man.)
The novel writing is much more slow and deliberate than writing screenplays- and all the inconsistences and plot holes, etc. that are not obvious in a script/film format, become apparent. So I wrote the novel and then rewrote it about 4 or 5 times, which taught me a lot about writing fiction.
My process 
combines inspiration and ‘seeing scenes’ in my head, as well as a methodical, tedious planning. Before I write the script, I would come up with
ideas, disjoined scenes, characters, dialogs, etc., and just jot them down on a piece of paper, and drop it in a bag or a (physical) file. And when the bag is pretty full, and the story somewhat developed, I sort through all the notes, assign them to a time in the story, and glue them onto corresponding pages of my planning notebook.
I think, being trained as a scientist helps greatly in the planning and disciplining my imagination. 
The second novel I’m finishing now also started as a script. I think, I’ll stick with this pattern. That beginning screenplay is like a loose skeleton on which you grow flesh, but then you start changing and improving parts, and by the time the book is finished, the story is perfected, and can make an even better script.

I did a lot of research on serial killers while writing BM- and had even a bit of a rift with my husband who was disgusted with my new ‘hobby’, and at finding printed out articles about ‘all that crap’ in the house. The research desensitized me a bit, which made the writing ‘grosser parts’ of the novel easier.
I wrote a Blood Matter the screenplay little by little (while working on other things as well) over the course of a year. Then I didn’t touch it for a few years. Then it took me about a year to turn it into a novel (that coincided with the beginning of my second marriage), and about a year to do all the revisions.  I wrote Blood Matter in In various places- on my lap on a stealth, on my work/school computers, in bed, in a bedroom I used as an office (my son took over that room and desk since.) Right now, I write in a corner of my bedroom. Maybe, one day I’ll have a proper study, all my own.
The most compelling portion of the book for me to write was the first/intro chapter, and the last one, before the postscript. The first chapter was longer initially- I made Sam’s execution botched at first, but of course, that was self-indulgent. I couldn’t spend so much time with a character who doesn’t reappear later in the book. Sam interested me a lot, which is why, of course, I enjoyed developing the character of his offspring. (‘Blood Matter’ means also a ‘matter of blood’, as in genetics.) And the last chapter played like a film in my head- it was challenging and exciting to write pure action and give a reader the right ‘visual’ experience.
After I wrote Blood Matter, I thought all I had to do was to find an agent. I managed to interest 2 people, and one of them won me over. She seemed so passionate about the book. She was also a new agent- which all the articles on finding literary agents say is a good thing for a new writer. Unfortunately, after a couple of publishers rejected the book, she suddenly lost all confidence in it and wanted me to completely rewrite the novel. (she since stopped representing fiction altogether.) At which point, I started to contact small indie publishers myself- and found Divertir Publishing. They didn’t have much to offer in terms of promotion, but Kenneth Tupper, the publisher, was also an excellent editor, and pointed out a few things I, and all my beta readers missed. He helped to polish and prepare the manuscript so professionally that I will never be embarrassed for it in the future.

3.  Blood 

Joe stepped inside the room and quietly closed the door. He waited until he heard only his own breathing. His eyes acclimated and made out the outlines of the crib. For a few moments, he thought he could feel his boy’s presence.
Then a beam of light from a passing car broke through the sheer curtains. In one devastating moment, it illuminated the smoothness of the baby blanket inside. A cold hand in Joe’s chest woke up and squeezed. His son was gone for eight months, his tiny body rotted in the bleak dirt hole next to the four year old grave of Joe’s mother. Alberto would have been walking by now, talking a little, calling his father something silly. Joe’s imagination rehearsed these over and over, without mercy.
The room was a mausoleum to Joe’s fatherhood. He wouldn’t let Lana, Alberto’s mother and Joe’s soon-to-be ex-wife, touch anything here. The baby clothes still filled the drawers, the tricycle Alberto never grew up enough to ride still stood in the corner, and his baby toys still overflowed the big basket next to it. Soon after their son’s funeral, Lana wanted to donate all his things to her church. Joe would not let her. The toys, the clothes, and the crib remained. Lana, on the other hand, had moved out, and the arrangement sat well with him.
--Chapter 4, Excerpt

He pressed her old dress to his face, inhaling the lingering smell of rose oil she used in place of perfume, and then put it on the floor with the rest of her clothes. He found her reading glasses, some of his school papers she had saved, a tattered notebook of recipes in her Spanish handwriting, and a robe he bought her for her birthday with his first paycheck when he was eighteen, bundled around something…
Joe unwrapped it and took out, one by one, a framed photo of his parent’s wedding…a stack of letters held with a rubber band addressed in Spanish to his mother from his father and posted with Guatemalan stamps…his father’s old family album…Joe paused, holding the last object—Rafa’s flannel pajama shirt, complete with a bullet hole and rusty spots of long-dried blood.
Joe stared at his findings. While growing up, he believed that Isabel had gotten rid of these objects. Their absence had sealed the silent pact between them, never to mention the man that Joe had struggled his entire childhood not to miss. Yet here they were, keepsakes of the dead, preserved lovingly for Joe one day to chance upon.
--Chapter 4, Excerpt

Joe kneeled by his friend’s side but didn’t dare lift him. Unable to think, he pressed his hand over Steve’s neck below the chin where the bullet entered, as if he could arrest the spurting blood. It quickly soaked the front of his shirt. Steve’s eyes bore into his. The big guy was trying to say something.
“Shhh…,” Joe said. “Lay still. It’s gonna be alright.” Tears streamed down his cheeks.
In Steve’s last willful effort, words came. “Pale eyes…like silver fish…” Then the face of Joe’s friend slackened, his eyes staring past Joe and absorbing the blue of the sky.
       --Chapter 2, Excerpt

 A slender young woman with dark, intense eyes walked down the second floor corridor of the Dallas FBI Headquarters. A gym hoodie and designer suit pants clung snug to her hard body. Her Italian shoes were sensible but elegant, and a roomy, sturdy, overpriced purse hung from her strong shoulder. While not much above average height, her confident posture made her appear taller. On a scale of horses, Gabrielle Lubovich was an Arabian.
--Chapter 8, Excerpt

           As she climbed the stairs, Gabrielle checked her phone and saw a new text message from Tom. Running a little late sorry. She reached the top landing, unlocked her door, and stepped inside the apartment. “Ranger!” she called as she turned on the hall light.     
          “You still here, puppy?”
           No usual, ecstatic bark greeted her. Gabrielle froze, the phone still in her hand. Calmly, she lifted the gadget to her ear, waited a bit, and said into the dead receiver, “Hey Tom, thank you for picking up Ranger. I owe you one. See you tomorrow.” Her voice was light, pneumatic. She pretended to hang up and whistled to the tune of the Puccini’s Toreador while noisily dropping off her shoes. Her feverish, shiny eyes didn’t as much as flick toward the watchful aperture of the living room entrance as she moved past it and down the hall.
            One step, two…nothing.
            The bathroom door swung open with a whine. The whistling stopped, and the echo of the shower came. Then the door shut, dulling the sound.
--Chapter 23, Excerpt

The man hiding in the living room quietly stepped into the hall. He wore his jogging suit and the ski mask, but the gun he held was different, a Berretta in place of the Bone Collector he lost to Gabrielle. He crept to the bathroom door. His hand, gloved in latex, touched the knob.
He imagined her naked under the running water, unaware and helpless. He imagined her shock, her fear, her blood filling the tub. Not as satisfying as bleeding a boy, but oh-so fitting. He remembered her narrow body and the hard grip of her hand wrestling the gun from his own. Why, she might do just as nicely as a boy! His light eyes darted to the alcove on his right, noting the short ladder and the outline of the flap above, high enough to require an athletic male’s strength to pull up to from the top rung.
He opened the door.
The small space was full of steam and the sound of running water. He aimed his gun at the opaque curtain and ripped the fabric aside.
   --Chapter 23, Excerpt

Gabrielle stood naked in front of him, her pale body streamlined and seemingly glowing, her bottomless eyes drowning his.
Joe dropped the cup into the sink, stepped to her, and took her into his arms. She pressed her face to his chest.
“Make me forget,” she whispered.
He picked her up and carried her to the bedroom.
   --Chapter 24, Excerpt

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