Vince Bailey's Blog

October 6, 2019

C of the C: Point of View

All of this discussion about three related tales provokes a question that several astute readers of book one, Path of the Half Moon, have posed. Curtis tells the story of his struggle with Harvey from firsthand experience, that much is clear. But if he is held behind the walls of Fort Grant, how can he, as the storyteller, know what is taking place with the other two stories (same vicinity, different locations) as they unfold simultaneously? As implied, the development of each of these stories usually occurs within a day or two of the others, with never a time lag of a few days or so. How can Curtis track the other tales concurrently?
The answer to this has three aspects. First, I must confess up front that, while I endeavor to render Courses of the Cursed a stand-alone work (to the degree that it is plausible), the three-part series was written continuously and is a trilogy in the true sense. Consequently, there are a number of sought-for resolutions held in abeyance for book three, one of which is Curtis's fraternization with the characters from the other tales. This is implied in the title, Merging Paths.
Then too, it must be remembered that Curtis is telling the stories a year after they took place. Accordingly, Vince relates the telling through the interludes from that point in time, and in the first person. But when the books shift to the narrative, the tales are told from the third person omniscient point of view--that is, the author (Vince Bailey) sees all, knows all, and even gets into characters' heads. Vince the author is writing all of this over the course of several decades--plenty of time to revisit, research, and infill details, all of which comes along with taking some artistic license.
But the third part of the answer lies with the reader's willing suspension of disbelief. One of the reasons why the story is told from the perspective of fifteen-year-old boys involves their innocent acceptance of other-worldliness, unspoiled by adult skepticism. Likewise, if a reader is to enjoy a book written in the supernatural genre, she/he must be "unusually open to all possibilities," as Eduardo Cruz so aptly put it. And so it gives me pause when a reader, who presumably enjoys and accepts the existence of curses, and restless spirits, and zombies, and werewolves, expresses a difficulty with a mere chronological wrinkle, one that is ironed out with a little intuition. But so it is.
These four blog posts are intended as a sort of foreword to provide some background on Courses of the Cursed and to address any large issues that may arise during the course of the reading. Smaller questions will surely come up, but will likely be addressed in the context. Part of the enjoyment of reading a novel like Courses of the Cursed comes with the reader solving the minor mysteries in his own mind. My parting advice if a passage makes you wonder? Read on.
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Published on October 06, 2019 12:12

September 29, 2019

Courses of the Cursed: Three Related Tales

The core of the second book in the Curtis Jefferson trilogy relies on three distinct but parallel stories. They inhabit a similar timeline, occupy the same general vicinity, but share a precisely identical vexation: the Fort Grant curse, embodied in the evil brujo, Ezra, former chief of the Aravaipa Apache.
The original and predominant story of Curtis and the conflict with his nemesis, fellow inmate, Harvey Huish, is continued here from where it left off in the closing pages of Path of the Half Moon. Similarly, the mystery of Primrose Armenta's brutal murder is carried over from book one. Here, we find Kenny, the accused husband, trapped in a vegetative state and held in an asylum for the criminally insane, while Officer Eduardo Cruz works diligently to find the real killer, along with newfound ally, Betty Wood. Newly introduced characters, Isabel and Ray Cienfuegos are similarly vexed, with Isabel striving to convince her nephew that the patron of his current metal art project is really a fiendish man-beast posing as an elderly Apache jewelry merchant.
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Published on September 29, 2019 13:56

September 21, 2019

Courses of the Cursed as a frame story

In keeping consistent with the first book, Path of the Half Moon, this second installment in the trilogy, Courses of the Cursed, is a "frame story." This is a literary term which just means a tale within a tale. The device has been widely used from ancient tales (One Thousand and One Arabian Nights), through medieval times (Canterbury Tales), and more recently, readers might recall the device as used in such popular motion pictures as Amadeus, and The Princess Bride.
In Courses of the Cursed, the device is continued from the first book and embodied in the second chapter "Footbridge." Here it becomes apparent that one year after Curtis's incarceration at the infamous Fort Grant, he feels compelled to share the story of his harrowing experiences with his friend, Vince. Put simply, it is Curtis who tells the story while it is fresh in his mind (but safely removed in time and distance from it). It is Vince who absorbs the story and puts it to pen, presumably years later and perhaps with some adult embellishments.
This tale-within-a-tale device enables the reader to enjoy some background on Curtis in the hometown atmosphere of Jacobs Well, where he is a renowned junior-high athlete and sometime rascal (though not a criminal) at the outset of the story, and allows for points of clarification throughout the telling in the form of so-called interludes. These minor interruptions serve double duty as reminders of who the original author is, and who is a mere transcriber.
It becomes clear that I, Vince Bailey, am that transcriber, and that Curtis is my muse. As such, I take some author's license in allowing the parallel tales in the trilogy to take us where they will, often to the edges of our willing suspension of disbelief. But here is another aspect of the frame story device: it establishes the authors of the stories as fifteen-year-old boys who have not yet developed the skepticism of adults--who are unusually open to all possibilities. Thus, the supernatural events described in the book(s) are discussed as fact and thereby rendered more believable.
With all of this background in mind, the shifting points of view found in Courses of the Cursed should be easy for readers to navigate.
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Published on September 21, 2019 09:09

September 14, 2019

Trilogy and The Middle Sibling

Just finishing up with some edits on the second book in the Curtis Jefferson trilogy, Courses of the Cursed, and some thoughts about the middle work in a series occurred to me that I'd like to share here.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the original penning of Courses of the Cursed, the endeavor was not without its inherent difficulties. Clearly, the first book, Path of the Half Moon, enjoys the independence or originality and only relies to a minor degree on continuation, while the third expresses mostly fulfillment and finality. But the second book, like the middle sibling of three, is left with the unique perspective of looking both behind and ahead. That is, it is somewhat dependent on the history and background expressed in book one and on conclusions and the obligatory tying up of loose ends in book three. Still, the standing obligation to the first-time reader to provide a "stand alone" work to the greatest extent possible, cannot be ignored. I've provided some background in the text through revisits and recollections, but an author can only take reprises so far. There are bound to be gaps that remain. Consequently, I have anticipated some possible questions that may arise with one who has not read the first book. As a preface to the release of book two, I hope to provide the context that will address some of these questions in the blogs that follow over the next several weeks.
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Published on September 14, 2019 14:12