Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Robert Fate

Jugglers at the Border, Robert Fate's fourth Baby Shark novel, is due out in September 2009.

From his interview at Meanderings and Muses:

You know, women in the 1950s were a whole lot different than they are today in a whole lot of ways (was that an understatement?). Back then, a young woman in her early 20s would most likely be married and a "stay at home mom." Kristin is a far cry from that stereotype. Even knowing the brutality that is part of what makes Baby who she is, you really don't explain why she seems determined to stay single. The love between her and her adoring Lee seems strong enough to warrant a commitment in the way of marriage. Will we be learning more about this inability to commit on Kristin's part as the series goes on?

I’m glad you asked about this. I have never wanted any aspect of Kristin’s existence to seem to be a literary device, not her personal life, the incidents of family life she remembers before the deaths of her mother and father, nor her friendships and infatuations, and especially not her love life. I have never felt an inclination to overly expose her private life and have tried to handle those matters in a realistic but considerate way. On the one hand, I think the reader has a right to know, but Kristin has her right to privacy, as well.

Kristin had as normal a childhood as was possible with her father “off at war” the better part of her early years, and then “off shooting pool” after he came back from the Pacific. She was allowed to love him in spite of his truancy, because her mother did. She never heard him condemned for not coming home to stay after the war, but rather they read his letters together that told of his adventures on the road, as they had read his letters from the South Seas. He explained himself to his daughter in the first book as she was deciding whether to go with him, and her response showed the hard-nosed, clear-eyed view of life and compromise that has come to define her as the self-contained warrior we know.

Kristin dropped out of high school and went on the road with her father after her mother died. This was her choice. She was sixteen, resilient, and willing to live out of the backseat of her dad’s Cadillac just to be with him. Then, at age seventeen, after witnessing her father’s murder, she was brutally raped by three men, beaten senseless, and left for dead in a burning building. So, I ask you sincerely, how in the world could anybody expect her to have a normal, loving relationship with anyone after that? Especially a suitor. She needed time to heal.

Indeed, she is nineteen before she can bring herself to even chance a relationship and that ends badly before it can get properly started. So, having been set back again, she kisses a few frogs along the way, but has no success in finding love until she is twenty-one and meets Lee Pierson, the romantic detective. This is in Beaumont Blues. There are complications; it is not easy, but they want it to work, so it does and she ends the book with a boyfriend.

All right, Kaye––I am finally to your question. In High Plains Redemption Kristin discusses with Henry what it is that is keeping her relationship with Lee from becoming more serious. Lee is a police detective and in her pursuit of justice she sometimes finds herself on the other side of the law. If she is truthful with him about some of the things she and Otis have done, she is presenting him with a moral dilemma, as well as putting herself, Otis, and even Henry in danger of arrest. Plus, she sees it as unfair to ask Lee to make choices between the oath he has taken as a police officer to uphold the law, and the temptation of letting her slide on acts for which he would ordinarily arrest people. It’s not easy. She loves Lee, but she can’t be truthful with him. He’s no dummy. He gets it and doesn’t try to press her, because he doesn’t want to lose her. So book three ends with them ignoring the elephant in the room, and not trying too hard to resolve the issues that have them stalemated.

In Jugglers at the Border, book four, you will find Kristin and Lee more relaxed in their roles and a hint––but only a hint––of how they might solve their impasse.
Read the complete Q & A.

The Page 69 Test: Baby Shark.

--Marshal Zeringue