OUT ON THE BAYOU
JANUARY 21, 2000 • HOUSTON VOICE
Lesbian author takes advantage ofe-publishing
the Web before
her work hit
by AMANDA KYLE WILLIAMS
"Lucifer Rising," the new novel by first-time novelist and
native Southerner Sharon Bowers, marks the beginning of a
promising career in fiction for Bowers and a fascinating new
trend in publishing.
The book was first born into print on the Internet. It
stayed there for months, establishing itself and its writer in
the on-line community. Bowers says she received thousands
of e-mails from readers during the months "Lucifer" was a
Internet-only published book.
Bowers' publisher, Justice House Publishing, is a small
house with big ideas about how to tap into the talent available on the Internet, justice House seeks out the books that
have made a splash, like "Lucifer," and writers who already
have a reader base.
"It's a new technology in a way, a new way of approaching publishing," Bowers says. "It's taking writers who are
established in a new forum like the web and moving them
into a traditional print form."
By doing so. Bowers says Justice House is satisfying the
needs and demands of a pre-existing audience.
"The reader base is saying, 'I'm tired of walking around
with a four-inch spiral notebook where I printed out your
400 page novel.'"
Justice House rides to the rescue with "on demand" print
capability. They claim they can put books on shelves within
days. Justice House also maintains a heavy Internet presence
(www.justicehouse.com), which showcases new writers and
logs about 100,000 hits a month.
In Bowers' case, the idea has meant success for both
writer and publisher.
By the time "Lucifer Rising" was available in print, Bowers'
audience was established and faithful. The book debuted in the
"Top 100" at Amazon.com.
As for the book itself, "Lucifer Rising" is not a life-changing
read, but it is a fun romp, a sort of fist-fight from beginning to
end. Remember liking the bad guys in "Pulp Fiction"? You may
have a similar experience with Bowers' main character, Jude
Lucien, who is working a deep cover assignment for the Drug
Enforcement Administration in Miami and hoping to soon be
free of the dark tangle of drug dealers, killers and duplidtous
agents that populate her fictional world.
On the first page of "Lucifer," Jude crushes the larynx of one
opponent and puts a bullet in the head of another while he begs
for mercy. She seems to do this without ever really getting her
heart rate up. Beautiful, disturbed and sexually obsessed, jude
Lucien, though not yet fully developed by the author, is already
a memorable character.
And Bowers has carefully peppered her with redeeming
qualities. Lucien is capable of great love, passion and even tenderness. The author shows this with Lucien's love interest, a
reporter named Liz Gardener. In fact, the book starts out reading like action/adventure and quickly hams into a love story.
A point of tension is not in the action scenes where Jude
gets banged up and shoots her way out, it's in the dance
done by the lovers from their first nearly electric meeting
through ups and downs, betrayals and misunderstandings.
Bowers teases the reader with Liz and Jude getting closer
and closer to actually touching until you find yourself wishing they'd just do it and get it over with.
The author is unapologetic.
"I knew what I wanted to do," sayd Bowers, who runs a
bookstore in Greenville, S.C. "I knew I was working within
genre expectations. What I wanted to do was to blend genres,
blend the mystery and thriller thing with the romance novel."
That she did, and the result leaves lots of room for sexual
innuendo and sex.
Bowers puts out with "Lucifer," and so do her characters.
Like most first-time authors, Bowers tends to tell more than she
shows us—scenes that could be emotionally stunning lean
instead toward melodrama.
The drama-rich backdrop of Miami couldn't be a better setting for a story of sex, drugs and hot women, but the author
misses opportunity after opportunity to show us the seedy
underbelly of the city, to drop the reader into the scene, the billowing heat, the smells, the traffic. But Bowers has the budding
talent and natural instincts to take us there next time.
She's working on the sequel to "Lucifer." "Past The
Point" is scheduled to be available in the fall of this year.
The characters in "Lucifer" are "sleek," dress impeccably,
are witty, lethal, do things "expertly," smolder with sexuality and have eyes that are piercing, eyes that glitter, eyes
that are colors like jade and indigo.
But isn't that really what we want? Sex, murder, beautiful
people in great clothes? It's romantic fiction. Sit back, strap
yourself in, and enjoy the ride. It's a promising beginning to
a potentially powerful series.
"What I wanted to do was just write about good looking
women in fast cars," Bowers says with a smile.
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