Friday, October 1, 2010

From Comic books readers and Scifi fans, to James Patterson and back. Why anyone can enjoy a Pius Man

[Author's note: this was originally going to be a note on Marketing. It didn't turn out that way.]

What do you call a book chock full of hundred year old conspiracies, dangerous priests, psychotic mercenaries, operatives trained to kill practically from birth, international political intrigue, a terrorist plot, and a wide ranging collection of protagonists the likes of which the world hasn't seen since the team that took out Dracula?

You call it A Pius Man.

Now, who should read it? On the face of it, it seems like yet another in a long line of bad Da Vinci Code ripoffs that have come out in legion since Dan Brown's super-hyped novel hit the scene an interminable amount of time ago. However, while my book has conspiracies and religion, that's more or less where the similarities end. There will be no puzzles, the French will not be a threat, and no one will spend dozens of pages finding their way out of an art museum.

That said, there are some people who just don't read thrillers. Understandable, it's a term so generic you can toss a net over a whole host of authors... some of whom probably should have a net thrown over them anyway, just to be safe. However, when a field is as vast as the comic-bookish feel of Clive Cussler's NUMA novels, to the theoretical science of James Rollins, to a Barry Eisler novel, half of which takes place in the head of his protagonist, assassin John Rain. It's almost as diverse a group as public Catholic figures—as Oscar Wilde used to say: Here Comes Everybody. Can't call it a historical thriller, because then it will be mistaken for a period peace like the Sharpe's novels of Bernard Cornwell—I wouldn't mind having his audience, but they might feel gypped to find it set in the 21st century.

So, who the hell should read this book?

Comic book fans: My first agent drew parallels between the team of protagonists and the Justice League—possibly since this is the most international team since the original Dracula. One character has already been compared to Deadpool—of the comic, not the film. Throw in adversaries who seem preternaturally strong, fast, and trained... well, it's not like fighting the Hordes of Hydra, but my villain isn't exactly the Red Skull. Some are as serious as a police procedural, and some might as well have wanted to be Doc Savage when they grew up. One of them even works with “Middle Earth's Most Wanted Elven Assassin,” and no, I'm not kidding.

Science Fiction fans—who will hopefully forgive me for calling it “SciFi” above: Key pieces of this story involve NLW technology. Or, in standard English, non-lethal weaponry. Microwave cannons that emit plasma beams, tazer beam weapons, gases, explosives; if it's been mentioned, or appeared in a semi-realistic video game, it's probably in there. Throw in the laser-keyboards and the microwave microphones, you can outfit a small Sharper Image store.

Spy fans: International intrigue? Got it. Shadowy figures? Check. Conspiracy theories? At least five of them, and three are right. We also have: the obligatory evil Cardinal; a pale, silver haired priest with commando training (not to be confused with an albino, of course); the Jesuits, the Opus Dei, and the Knights Templar all show up, just so I can play with some of the old cliches

Readers of history: Yes, A Pius Man actually has historical facts. Literally, they happened. This is a book where the history presented in its pages can be footnoted. I know this because the original draft had footnotes. It was suggested that I take them out... however, I still have the bibliography in the back.

People who like intelligent destruction: There's an assassination on page two, an explosion on page three, a wrecked car by page seven, and a mercenary with a resume that reads like scripts of the A-Team. We'll ignore the shootout on the Spanish Steps in the armored SUV. Death, property damage, and utter ruination are always good for an audience. It worked for four Die Hard films.

Political folk: As much as I loathe to admit it, there's politics in this novel. It goes to motivation for the various and sundry parties. Besides: how do you negotiate being a Catholic—universal—Church? Unlike being a superpower, like the United States, you can't pick and choose who you associate with just because they're valuable to you. If that were the case, I wouldn't have a friend whose uncle is a missionary in China. And what happens when you put an African Pope who's to the right of Attila the Hun into the middle of this particular hurricane?

At the end of the day, the only people who should probably NOT read A Pius Man are those who expect a novel by way of Mitchner, or Clavell. Half of the book is filled with thoughtful, drawn out characters who are trying to think their way through the problem at hand. The other half of the book is filled with various and sundry creative ways to lay waste to large parts of Rome—from shooting up the Spanish Steps to trashing Leonardo Da Vinci airport.

Oh, and there's a love story in there, too.

And this is just the first book. Book two is the fallout, and countermoves by those bad guys who survive book one. Book three is where I recreate the Battle of Thermopylae.... if the 300 had possessed remote-detonated landmines.

Anyway, if you or any of your friends might enjoy anything listed above, you might want to join the fan page, or invite them to tag along. Or both.

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