Guest Post from Thomas Pluck
Thanks to Steve Weddle for letting me grab the wheel today. I don't normally read blogs about writing, but I read this one. Because the writers at DSD don't serve up BS.
That is what my collection, Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime and Suspense, is about. That's what "steel heart" means. Having a heart of steel, to stand up and say it like it is. There is a lot of "unflinching" fiction out there. I write some of it myself. But when I describe mine, I say it also has heart. Some consider that a weakness, that the "true" stories must pay homage to the god of nihilism, that the one cold truth is that man is wolf to man. If that were true, we'd be all nibbling baby McNuggets like the cannibals in a Cormac McCarthy novel. And I love the books of Mr. 'mac Mac. But their brutality is strengthened by the glimmers of humanity he puts in there. Llewelyn Moss's troubles begin when he gives a dying man water. In The Road, the father cannot see the good left on earth, but his son can, and carries the fire for him.
That's heart. There is evil in the world; I prefer fiction that acknowledges it and explores the decisions that send people down that left hand path, telling themselves that what lies at the end of their road is worth the bloody shortcuts and the trodding upon of fallen comrades. Evil is not the mystery we wish to think it is; it is a collection of choices and the excuses we make for them.
Steel Heart collects ten of my most popular stories. Two starring Jay Desmarteaux, an ex-con who served 25 years for his own collection of bad choices, who still fights to decide what path he will take today. Another with Denny the Dent, the hulking manchild who lives in a Newark junkyard and metes out his own brand of street justice. A Vietnam Vet trying to connect with his son before it is too late. And a wise-cracking P.I. who takes on the biggest mystery of them all.
Each character finds themselves making a decision that will weigh heavy on their heart. In the afterlife of Egyptian mythology, your heart is weighed against a goddess's feather to decide if you are worthy of rebirth or deserving of annihilation. In these stories, the answer may seem clear, but it is never easy. For me, a story lingers like gunsmoke when it makes you consider such a choice yourself. Wondering whether it will leave you with a heart of steel, or just a heavy, steel heart.
Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime and Suspense is available from all the usual e-book retailers:
Amazon for Kindle
Barnes & Noble for Nook
Smashwords, in many formats, including to read online.