Story and the Advent of the Gypsy
by Shelly Frome
In creating fiction, there is a longstanding issue over writing what you know or fabricating a plot and filling in the blanks with a little research. By the same token, there’s also a disagreement over character driven action and sheer narrative. But the actual process in search of something sustaining and meaningful can’t be distilled to any surefire approach. As a case in point, you really can’t go on until you understand the special world you find yourself in.
For instance, Shadow of the Gypsy began with a sense of refuge in a small town in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. There was also a debt I seem to have incurred as a very small child which I never understood, William Faulkner’s dictum that the past is never past, and a fanciful image of a recurring nightmare stemming from a plunging dagger. When the image became more intriguing along with the notion of an early childhood trauma, the need for a shadowy figure became more pressing.
Admittedly, only an incurable storyteller would be faced with the need for someone foreign and volatile; the time-worn cliché headstrong, unscrupulous band of travelers and wild women with dangling earrings, juxtaposed against the actual Romany people who want to assimilate into society. Thus in order to propel this tale, Zharko Vadja had to become the gypsy, not a gypsy. A rogue gypsy, if you will, with his special backstory and quirks, a nefarious outlook and aim, a jaded scheme that wouldn’t quit. He would have to earn his role as a nemesis.
After a great deal of research, he began to come alive for me when, imaginatively, he scrawled his response on his lawyer’s coffee table book of Romany life:
Oh, for sure, Novac, you think I going to settle down, sweet Romany life, grow crops, start business? Forget what I know from old country, corruption, paying protection money? Parasites (good word no?) living off workers? Shell companies and shell bank accounts? As much or more corruption here in U.S. lousy government I hear. As bad or much worse everywhere you go—payoffs under table or what have you got. Race is to the swift so I hear. Winners and losers, zero sum game. This is what I know.
From this moment on I could give Zharko free rein as the tale truly started to become self-generating.
My comments on Shadow of the Gypsy :
Written in the traditional style of crime fiction, the novel slowly reveals the story behind Josh's past, which he thought he had left behind when he changed his name and began working at a small town newspaper in the Blue Ridge mountains. But normal life escapes Josh when a gypsy from his past shows up to demand a favor, or else....
The action is paced in this crime fiction, with some suspense but a more relaxing read than a thriller. Zharko, the gypsy in question, is unusual, perhaps a bit stereotypical, even though the author describes him as a rogue gypsy. His character as described and developed fits well into the role of villain.
An enjoyable crime novel.
Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours and Teddy Rose for a review copy of this book and for the invitation to tour. Visit the site for other reviews on this book tour.