I’m often asked about the plot of my novel, which isn’t a big surprise, yet I’ve never really taken time to explain it in my own words. Jaden Baker is a psychological thriller, and if you’re wondering what makes a book a psych-thriller rather than a mystery or action thriller, I pulled a definition from Wikipedia (at the risk of being trite, for citing a definition in the opening of a post):
“Psychological thriller – Characters are no longer reliant on physical strength to overcome their brutish enemies (which is often the case in typical action-thrillers), but rather are reliant on their mental resources, whether it be by battling wits with a formidable opponent or by battling for equilibrium in the character’s own mind. The suspense created by psychological thrillers often comes from two or more characters preying upon one another’s minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the other’s mental state.”
The above definition rightly sums up the driving force behind my novel. Jaden is a complex individual who wages mental warfare against his enemies, as his natural ability to defend himself is limited and used against him.
Who is Jaden Baker?
That’s what you’ll be wondering after reading the opening chapter, and the answer is expounded upon throughout the rest of the novel. Chapter one finds Jaden as a nine year old boy, weaving a web of deception in order to portray a specific persona, in order to protect himself and the secrets of his short past. Jaden is determined to start afresh in a new world of modern day suburbia. But of course, things don’t go as planned.
Power and Control
One of the main themes of the novel is power. The story deals with what it means to have power, how power is acquired, surrendered (not taken), and finally–once given up–how Jaden tries to regain control from his enemies.
Good versus Evil (of course)
Many stories chronicle the struggle of good versus evil, and Jaden Baker is no different. What is different is the level of confrontation between a minor (Jaden) and his seasoned enemy. The villain of my novel rightly deserves your hatred–Joseph Madrid has elicited many eyebrow raises from friends and family who wonder where the heck he came from, which inspired me to write this post.
The Quest for Happiness
The book opens with this quotation:
“There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live…” -Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo)
The Elevator Pitch
In his book On Writing, Stephen King asserts that plots should be summarized in one to two sentences. For Jaden Baker the elevator pitch would go something like this: Jaden Baker is a special boy who struggles to hold onto his power, sanity, and sense of self when confronted with a harbinger of evil.
Have You Given it a Try?
I get many unique visitors to this website every day, and often receive emails from people saying they enjoy reading my blog. Jaden Baker was written by little me, and if you like reading about my day-to-day adventures, you may also like my work of pure fiction. The first four chapters are posted here, which means you and anyone with internet access can read the beginning of the novel for free. That’s like watching the first 20 minutes of a movie before having to commit to purchasing a ticket. The cost of the ebook is a few bucks, less than a venti anything at Starbucks. It’s probably cheaper than a cocktail, a hamburger, and much cheaper than a movie ticket. The links to the book are at the bottom, in the footer of this website.
It’s All Down to You
You hold my dream to be a novelist–and only a novelist–in your hands. I need you to help spread the word that I wrote a book. If you liked the novel, talk it up. Recommend it to friends, family, your coworkers, anyone you can think of. Write a review for Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you own a copy, take it places, leave it out on a table as you enjoy coffee, take it on a plane, a train, a bus. Have it at work with you, sitting on your desk. Leave it in the lunch room. Give it exposure.
If you have the ebook, recommend it on the blogs. Post an Amazon ad on your website (you’ll get a commission from it if people buy from your site!), mention it casually in conversation: “Man, that traffic! I wish I could pull a Jaden Baker and just shove all the cars out of my way!” or “I don’t know, I like Jaden’s approach to homelessness.”
Anything you do, as a reader, will contain ten times the amount of power I have as the author. I’m the book’s mommy–my word means squat.
So say it loud, proud, and publicly. While I relish emails from readers who tell me they neglected their families or sleep to read my novel, what would really tickle me hot pink would be if you told your friends, neighbors, and dog groomers as well. Leave reviews. Talk. It. Up. Only you can. Recommend it to book clubs. Give it as a gift.
Some of you are already members of Team Jaden. Thank you. It means the universe to me that you enjoyed the book and are already spreading the word with so much enthusiasm. There is no player limit to this team. You can join anytime from anywhere. Thank you for helping me achieve my deepest desire: to be a novelist.
Quotations from the Novel:
There were so many viciously sarcastic ways to respond, Jaden’s brain was temporarily paralyzed due to witty comeback overload.
Modern American culture dictated the importance of touching the hand of someone you’ve just met, however counterintuitive it seemed. Why would he want to touch someone he didn’t know? But he was adaptable. He could do this. Just reach out and grab that beefy hand.
Clever, clever. So tactical. No one should underestimate your resourcefulness, but I sense they’ll do it again. The arrogant are prone to mistakes, you know. Keep it up, and you’ll be free of this place sooner than you think.
The two studied one another for what seemed hours, neither saying a word. Jaden’s first inclination was to yell and demand his freedom, but something held him back. Here was a new man, and a new set of mind games. He waited for the old man to speak first and introduce himself, as Dalton had upon their first formal meeting. The stranger remained silent.
I’ve carved out the pages of this book and included a pocket knife and a shortbread cookie.
A worm of fear wriggled in Jaden’s stomach, and the ethereal assuredness he channeled moments before evaporated as the worm burrowed deeper. When he next spoke, his own voice of trapped hysteria broke through, the worm having reached journey’s end.
“Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m all smiles and daisies that you’re helping us out of this shit storm, but I’m a tweensy bit confused. Your allegiance changes more than…” she struggled to find an accurate comparison, “insert clever analogy here! You’re constantly changing your mind. Who’s side are you really on? Why should we trust you? And why am I the only one having a fit over here?”
“I’ve been to the other side…You’re dead there, too.”