William Petrocelli | Front Story, Back Story - Where do you find the Story?
October 28, 2013
Deciding what to write is always a problem. A blank piece of paper has
traditionally been a writer's nightmare. And a blank computer screen with all of
its polite little prompts is, if anything, even more intimidating.
But what to write isn't the only problem-what not to write is even a bigger
issue. Even a short thriller - say, one that begins and ends in a week -
requires that the writer think carefully about what to say and what to leave
out. If each minute in a story covering one-week gets a ten-word sentence, you'd
have a book of over 100,000 words and an undifferentiated pile of mush.
Writers typically focus on a series of key scenes and leave everything in
between to be filled in by the reader's imagination. If they need more, they
usually have the characters recount earlier events and then reflect on them a
bit, as they try to tie those prior events into the story. The trick is to
shoe-horn the earlier events - the back story - into the story at hand without
slowing down the narrative.
Sometimes that's not so easy. The main story line of THE CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN is
written in the first-person narrative voice of Julia Moro, the young Security
Director of the United Nations. She is trying to thwart a terrorist threat to
the U.N. over a two-week period in 2082. That seems straightforward enough, but
the problem it raises is suggested by the title of the book: The Circle of
Thirteen. That title refers to a group of thirteen women leaders who had a major
impact on society during the decades leading up to the events in the book. They
are important enough to warrant more than just a passing reference in the story.
To some extent their tale could be told as part of the back story, but they
can't stay in the background forever. As the book goes on, their story demands
at times that they to be brought to the forefront.
The thirteen "Women for Peace" leaders are introduced on page 12 of THE CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN at
the dedication ceremony for the new U.N. headquarters in 2082. This introduction
comes in the form of a huge bronze sculpture of them that is being installed as
a memorial in the new building. But the thirteen women themselves are not there.
They met a tragic end twenty-five years earlier.
Because these thirteen title-characters aren't alive at the time the book
begins, their story has to be told in reverse. The reader learns of their lives
and accomplishments through a combination of back-story and flashbacks. Julia
herself recounts parts of their story as it intersects with the investigation
she is pursuing. That lays the groundwork for the rest of it. But the women only
come to life through the eyes of Julia's grandmother, Maya, in a series of
The story of THE
THIRTEEN comes to a dramatic culmination on page 210 with a series of events
that changes everything from that point forward.
About THE CIRCLE OF
THIRTEEN and William
How far do the ripples of violence go? THE CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN
begins with a mindless act of family violence in 2008 and spans seven decades,
finally culminating in the desperate effort by Julia Moro, the U.N. Security
Director, to stop a major act of terror. In this rich, textured thriller, Bill
Petrocelli weaves the story around themes of poverty, political corruption,
environmental disaster, and the backlash against the rising role of women.
In 2082, as a catastrophic explosion threatens to destroy the new United Nations
building in New York, Julia Moro finds herself on the trail of the shadowy
leader of Patria, a terrorist organization linked to bombing attempts and
vicious attacks on women. One of those groups of women - the Women for Peace
— was headed by thirteen bold women who risked their lives to achieve
world peace and justice.
Weaving back and forth in time, this gripping narrative illuminates the
unbreakable bond between strong women, providing an emotionally grounded window
into the future's unforgettable history. This is a thrilling ride that will
mesmerize until the end.
William Petrocelli is co-owner, with his wife Elaine, of the Book Passage
bookstores in Northern California. His books include LOW PROFILE: HOW TO AVOID
THE PRIVACY INVADERS and SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON THE JOB: What it is and How to
Stop It. He's a former Deputy Attorney General, a former poverty lawyer in
Oakland, and a long-time advocate for women's rights. THE CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN is
his first novel.
More information about THE
CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN can be found on WilliamPetrocelli.com, including tidbits about the
inspiration behind the novel and Bill's event schedule. He can also be found on
Two commenters will each win a copy of THE CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN
23 comments posted.
Re: William Petrocelli | Front Story, Back Story - Where do you find the Story?
Your book sounds very interesting! I would like to read it.
(Kathy Morrison 9:11am October 28, 2013)
Now this is the kind of book I could sit down and read but not want to put down! Can't wait to read this one. Thanks!
(Bonnie Capuano 9:25am October 28, 2013)
added to my to-read list
(Debbi Shaw 9:35am October 28, 2013)
sounds really good thanks so much
(Denise Smith 9:38am October 28, 2013)
this sounds like a good weekend reading book !
(Ron Frampton 10:22am October 28, 2013)
Usually the main characters are male in this type of thriller--I think I'll like this one with a female.
(Sue Farrell 10:43am October 28, 2013)
Would love to read this book....will be on my "to-read" list!
(Sandra Boen 10:46am October 28, 2013)
A novel that is compelling and unique. Best wishes and much
(Sharon Berger 11:03am October 28, 2013)
This really sounds like a great book. Thanks for the chance to win. Best of luck with it.
(Nancy Reynolds 11:07am October 28, 2013)
I commend you for being an advocate for women's rights. That would make sense for where the story line came from. With your background, I'm sure that your book would be a real page-turner for this time of year. I'd have to make sure to keep a lot of hot chocolate on hand, to make sure I don't have any interruptions!! The good thing about this book is that I'm sure when I'm done reading it, I should be able to pass it along to my Husband to read it, too!! Congratulations on your first novel, and may it be the first of many to come!!
(Peggy Roberson 11:23am October 28, 2013)
As a woman of "today" I like the fact that you incorporate a woman in the story line....one where I want to see what happens from page one to finish. I just happen to like to read snuggled into my comfy chair with a nice cup of tea and read away.
(C Culp 12:58pm October 28, 2013)
This book sounds great. I would love to ready it.
(Lennette Daniels 1:22pm October 28, 2013)
Looking forward to reading your book!
(Michelle Schafer 4:36pm October 28, 2013)
looking to read this thanks for the giveaway
(Patricia Lambert 5:00pm October 28, 2013)
Love the idea of the way the story unfolds and sounds like it
will be a sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat read.
(LaRonda Atchison 6:21pm October 28, 2013)
This sounds like a cool book. My dad might swipe it from me before I could read it.
(Laura Gullickson 8:22pm October 28, 2013)
Book sounds interesting. Will add to my read list. Thanks for a chance to win.
(Linda Hall 9:18pm October 28, 2013)
It sounds like a sound premise. I will add it to my read list.
(Terri Poindexter 10:24pm October 28, 2013)
Wow, Congrats on your new book and 1st novel: THE CIRCLE OF
THIRTEEN. I love the book cover too! Yes, the golden rings
are like people and we are all connected in our world. I
truly would love to be one of those women seeking world
peace because there is too much violence in our country and
around the world too. We all need to put God First and live
by the Ten Commandments especially the one that says: Thou
Shalt Not Kill!!! Then, our world would be a better place
for all of us to live a better life in for sure. I would
love to win and read your special book this Fall. Thank You
very much. Cecilia CECE
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 11:58pm October 28, 2013)
Congrats on your first novel. Circle of Thirteen has that intriguing ring to it.
(Kai Wong 12:24pm October 30, 2013)
Great cover and fascinating premise. I love layered plots and
it sounds as though you have achieved that delicate skill
(Janet Martin 8:46am October 30, 2013)
This does sound fantastic.
(Mary Preston 11:45pm October 30, 2013)
Flashbacks help stories make sense in that they are grounding
moments. To know each of the 13 women and how they
contributed to history, the backstories tell the tale. I like
reading stories that have history woven throughout.
(Alyson Widen 8:11pm October 31, 2013)
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