|Something Taken – By Jerrie Brock|
Her first published book, Something Taken, is available in Kindle and in paperback. It is a wonderful read. (My review on Goodreads, Amazon US and Amazon UK is below).
She can be peppery, kind, understanding, and very direct. She is a woman of wide experience with the sort of humor that comes of seeing many things and understanding them. I enjoyed interviewing her. I think you will enjoy reading of her.
How would you describe yourself?
|Jerrie Brock and two of her dogs|
I barely make sense to myself, so describing myself is beyond me. The most appropriate description might be what my beloved grandpa used: “You’re like fly shit, you’re all over the place.” Needless to say, I probably wasn’t the easiest kid to deal with, and I don’t know if I have improved much over the years. Fortunately, I found a man to put up with me. We were married 25 fun, goofy years but he was much older than me and he died seven years ago. I think he’s irreplaceable.
My favorites are historic fiction and contemporary fiction, based on real life and real people in both instances. Some are romances, some just a reflection of an era, some crime, some drama, some humorous. Everything I write is born from reality however, though I insert fictional characters along the way, including the main character. I have so many stories backed up in my mind, I’ll never get all of them written. In terms of writing, my favorite eras are England (or rather the UK and Ireland ) after the Norman conquest and before their Civil War, and the US after our Civil War all the way to the present.
I have no idea. It was a challenge? I started very young, I wrote letters to my grandparents starting in first grade and never stopped. School and I didn’t always get along. I didn’t have the patience to worry about forming letters correctly when I could communicate through writing. I would get punished for writing a story instead of practicing my letters. Who cares about letters, anyway? Right? Right! So began the cycle of failure and success in school. Mostly my presence in a classroom was greeted with a groan, although I had a few teachers who were a huge inspiration and I truly loved them. So I think I wrote because it was one of the few things that always presented a challenge and it gave me solace in times when I felt rather alone in the world. I had my characters, so at least I was never lonely. There are so many ways to write, so many words to use, so many thoughts to convey. I call writing, wordsmithing, and like any craft, there is always room to be better. Hard to beat that kind of thrill.
I just sit down and write, nearly every day. Sometimes it’s revisions, other times it’s completely new. I know the story, how it begins and ends, and so I write it. But I usually have to go back and hack away a lot of the unnecessary stuff to get it to something reasonable and worthy. The one thing that side tracks me during writing is research. I like to be accurate, and it gives me an excuse to read, too. In one, before I wrote the court scene, I had already read the laws and legal procedures of that state, and then I went further, reading a couple of college text books on interrogations, criminal law, that sort of thing. When I write historic fiction, I often read texts from the time period because it allows me to see from their vantage point, to get an idea of how they viewed the world, which is so much different than our concepts today. Most people rarely traveled more than a couple of miles from their homes in their entire lives. The idea of people who looked completely different was almost incomprehensible. The world held so many secrets that venturing too far was a rather frightening notion. I try to reflect that sort of image in my historic writing.
Music. Have to have music. Sometimes I sing and write, mostly I just listen. I have an Ipod thingy with about 2500 songs, mostly rock in every style, but I also like Big Band, Jazz, Military Band, Soul, Bluegrass and a few others. No Country unless it’s Country-Rock and no Rap. People think its odd when they hear it — Glen Miller doing the Chattanooga Choo Choo might be followed by Blue Oyster Cult doing Don’t Fear the Reaper. And books and the Internet for references.
How did the idea for SOMETHING TAKEN come to you?It started with the sequel. I was laid off and looking for a new job. I had to undergo an extensive background check that came back with a couple of little issues that needed to be settled, which got me thinking about the past creeping up in the present. My imagination tends to operate in overdrive most the time, and I could visualize how something from long ago could destroy a person in spite of all the changes they made. Then I got caught up in the story, and decided to start at the beginning.
I have read and reviewed SOMETHING TAKEN – the link is at the bottom of this blog post – and one of the things that truly struck and moved me was the notion of a ‘hero’ who has the courage and heart to see beyond appearances and sense something deeper and darker that must be addressed and must not be allowed to triumph. What were you saying here?
Just as I was about to ask her to join us, she began to speak softly, as she continued staring out at the mountains and the setting sun. “These last few days, being here, and seeing all the happiness, made me remember what I really wanted from life. I remembered what it was like to have fun without being out of my mind with drugs and all. It reminded me of the good times I had with my Dad and Ricky.
“When I left home, I just wanted to find a way to have that again. No matter what I did with my family, I was always gonna be the black sheep. It wasn’t that they did anything wrong, they’re good people. It’s just me. I didn’t quite fit with their style. I guess I don’t really fit in anywhere.
“Since there’s nothing wrong with their ideas, I should’ve just accepted it. But I thought there was more to life that might be equally good. When I was at college, I met a really good group. We partied a lot, but we all had this dream that one day we’d do important stuff to make the world better. It was probably just grandiose dreams, beyond reality, but we believed them.
“Now, too late, I’ve discovered it’s not the spectacular stuff that really makes a difference in the world. It’s just living well, as best you can, day to day, and hopefully making one person’s day a little better. After seeing all you’ve been doing for me, and for others, I realized I was just living in a fantasy world that I kept intact by using drugs and pretending I was trying to achieve something. In other words, I was a fraud. I really wasn’t making any difference, and I wasn’t even trying.
“It’s a little late for all these profound thoughts and regrets but they keep pressing me. Helping out around here, enjoying all you’ve given me, all the happiness, I keep wishing I had one more chance to get it right. But the only way I can do it is to start over one more time and I blew that big time.”
She stopped to light a cigarette with shaking hands. When she finally resumed, her voice also wavered. “I think now, I really know what I should’ve known before. I don’t think it would be easy, but I think I’ve learned what it means to be strong. And now, it doesn’t make any difference because I can’t change what I did, or go back and undo it. It’s just hard, knowing it’s too late. I wish things were different.”
For a moment none of us had anything to say as we digested her words. Hard to believe they came from an eighteen-year-old, until a person reflected on those eighteen years she lived. She had leap-frogged most of us in wisdom already.
Sword or pistol? Sword
Horse or Porsche? Horse
Mountaintop or ocean? Ocean
Hot dog or hamburger? Doesn’t matter.
Flapper or screamer? The one leading the charge – the dreamer – the who says, ‘What the heck, lets do it. The worst that can happen is we fail.’ (…sounds like a flapper to me…)
Typewriter or fountain pen? (handsome scribe optional) Quill
So, it’s been a rough day. Nothing has gone right, everyone has been driving you mad, traffic has been slow, lunch was disgusting. You’re outta there. What do you do to kick back?
Read, listen to music, write, build something. But first and foremost, I play with my pups and sometimes the cats if they’re in the mood. No matter what goes wrong in the world, they are my sparkling bit of happiness and laughter. I don’t know how people manage without pets. Where else can a person get unconditional love and the chance to feel like they are the most important person in the world for a moment?
The sequel to Something Taken, titled Something Returned will come out just before Thanksgiving. It was the original story, in truth. It follows the main character, Terry, now living under an alias, Mel (Melissa) McCurdy, married nearly 25 years, two grown children, suddenly discovering the Denver Police are re-opening the case of the cop murdered in Denver in 1979. As much as Mel fears what will come of their investigation, what frightens her even more is trying to explain to her husband, her children and her in-laws that she really is not Melissa. It also comes with a few surprises that readers of Something Taken would never imagine. This is more of a love story, and though it has some sad moments, its not near as challenging of a read as the first one.
I could envision how scary it would be to have to suddenly reveal a new reality. Even though I wrote this story after my husband died, I can say with perfect confidence if I had to confess something horrible I did to him, he would still believe in and stand by me. So in a way, it is a tribute to him and his love for me.
There will be a third and final book in the series, that I am writing now, called Something Broken. It is the perspective of the Denver police back before the murder. Part of it is to explain how things like this develop without any real intent or recognition of the harm it causes. The other reason for writing it was to explain some parts that might come as a surprise about the whole thing.
After I get these two out, I’ll have to stop and analyze. I have quite a few already written that need a lot of work and editing, but I don’t know what I’ll pursue after this. Writing is something I have to do, but publishing, eh, well, we’ll see.
I truly hope you enjoy it, but if you don’t, I’d really love to hear why. Whatever your reaction, I appreciate your taking the time to read it.
(the book is also available in paperback)
Something Taken by Jerrie Brock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Terrible things happen. There comes a point in many people’s lives where they realize that the world is not small and safe. They realize that it is large, unpredictable, random and terribly dangerous. For some people, the realization comes through watching others. For some it is a process of thought. And some come up against the danger, cruelty and randomness in their own lives without warning.
Terry is in a new place, starting a new life after turning her back on the rags of her childhood. She is eighteen years old, making it on her own, happy with her friends, her job, her dog… And then in one night her innocence is stolen, her trust is betrayed and she is trapped and despairing.
Terrible things happen. You can’t bend the rules. You’re on your own. The weaker always loses. Something Taken tells of this – and it also tells of a truth that we often lose sight of when we are transfixed by the cruelty and harshness of life: there are heroes. There are the Bright Ones who stand against the dark, who follow their hearts in defiance, sometimes, of the rules.
An old nursery rhyme talks about ‘The Benders, the Breakers, The Menders and Makers’.
This is a story of a broken girl and how she comes through it. I found it moving.
There are some things that should be mentioned. This is a story of an eighteen-year-old girl, alone and vulnerable, who is used very badly. Harsh things happen, she is subjected to mistreatment. Brock’s gift is that she can tell of a terrible experience and do it completely by recounting the character’s sometimes disjointed impressions. She chronicles Terry’s descent into hell, and (I will post no spoilers) and of the hand outstretched to her that brought her back.
I was struck by the power of Brock’s writing, by her instinctive understanding of people. Her descriptions are very well done, and her characterizations do not falter. It is a powerful book.
This may be a hard book for some to read, for it touches upon difficult subjects, but ultimately it is worthwhile. (There are ways to preview books through Amazon and other sellers. If in doubt, try it out.)
I give this book five stars. It can be dark, it can be harsh, it is, as a whole, a very good book.
Really enjoyed this interview – and I can empathise with the battle to avoid being side-tracking by more lovely research. Thanks for the recommendation!