Author Guest Post
When You’re Smiling
By: Merry Jones
When I began to write Child’s Play, I intended to focus on the assumptions we make about others. We all do it. A stranger approaches and we make instant judgments about him or her. On sight, knowing nothing about this person, we decide in a nano-second whether to be cautious, friendly or generous. Whether to smile. Whether to run.
These decisions are based in part on instinct, in part on cultural cues. In part on the assumptions we make based on wardrobe, style, cleanliness, health, posture, and, in our society with its prejudices, on gender, age, size, beauty, ethnicity and race.
The assumptions we make about others, though, do not apply just to strangers. We also make them about acquaintances and friends. The assumptions we make about people familiar to us were the ones I intended to write about. What would we assume about a neighbor who’d just been released from prison for murder? About an ice cream man being way too friendly with children? About a business contact who was being persistently flirtatious? Or about a somber and silent janitor who was lurking in a corner watching pretty young girls hurrying down a school hallway?
My intention in Child’s Play was to show that our assumptions, no matter how logical and time-tested, can mislead us. That the evidence upon which we base our judgments isn’t always correct and can, in fact, lead us to false, even dangerous conclusions.
In the process of writing the book, though, I became aware of some of my own assumptions. Having recently moved from the suburbs to a dense urban area, I was tuned into the “dangers” of city life. I moved quickly down the street, eyes focused straight ahead, avoiding contact with strangers. But, writing the book, I became aware of the assumption that made me behave that way, the assumption that strangers were at best in a rush and focused on their own affairs, at worst dangerous.
Once I became aware of my behavior, I changed it. I began smiling at strangers. Meeting their eyes. Often, though not always, getting smiles in return. Connecting, though just for an instant.
Smiling at people sounds like a simple, even trivial act. But it feels amazing. I get smiles back from all ages, all races, all sizes and shapes. From people with walkers, people with shopping carts. From people hurrying, loitering, jogging, or waiting. People wearing business clothes, walking pit bulls, pushing strollers, or, I suspect, pushing other things.
I suppose Child’s Play was the catalyst for me to extend myself to others in this tiny way, opening my gaze to meet the eyes of passing strangers and offering them a smile.
A smile. It seems innocuous, insignificant. It’s a fleeting thing, enduring for a mere moment. But the smile forces me to overcome the tendency to look away from those around me. It reaches across the city sidewalk with a wordless acknowledgment, a greeting, a shot of good wishes from one stranger to another, no matter what we might assume about each other.
Some days, as I walk, I count the number of smiles I get back. I feel them as small victories against urban loneliness and isolation, against fear, against prejudice. Against false assumptions.
Child’s Play, of course, is about much more than assumptions. But for me, writing it made me aware of the invisible walls surrounding so many of us. And it motivated me to poke at those walls, puncturing a few, even for the duration of a smile.
Child's Play by Merry Jones
Book 3: Elle Harrison Thriller Series
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: Paperback - 320 pages
Kindle - 1566 KB
Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-1608091911ASIN: B01H7H5EFY
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller
Buy The Book:
Buy The Series: Elle Harrison Thriller Series
Book 1: The Trouble With Charlie
Book 2: Elective Procedures
Book 3: Child's Play
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author /publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Just before the first day of school, Elle learns that a former student, Ty Evans, has been released from juvenile detention where he served time for killing his abusive father. Within days of his release, Elle’s school principal, who’d tormented Ty as a child, is brutally murdered. So is a teacher at the school. And Ty’s former girlfriend. All the victims have links to Ty.
Ty’s younger brother, Seth, is in Elle’s class. When Seth shows up at school beaten and bruised, Elle reports the abuse, and authorities remove Seth and his older sister, Katie, from their home. Is Ty the abuser?
Ty seeks Elle out, confiding that she’s the only adult he’s ever trusted. She tries to be open-minded, even wonders if he’s been wrongly condemned. But when she’s assaulted in the night, she suspects that Ty is her attacker. Is he a serial killer? Is she his next intended victim?
Before Elle discovers the truth, she’s caught in a deadly trap that challenges her deepest convictions about guilt and innocence, childhood and family. Pushed to her limits, she’s forced to face her fears and apply new skills in a deadly fight to survive.
My Book Review:
In Child's Play, the third book in the Elle Harrison Thriller Series, author Merry Jones weaves an intriguing thriller that engages the reader in solving the mystery all the while keeping them guessing along the way. This is a riveting tale of murder, mystery and suspense set in Philadelphia, and written in the first person narrative with Elle Harrison taking the reader along for the ride on her zany adventure to uncover the mystery surrounding the school murders.
Mixed with humor, danger, paranormal involvement, potential suspects and enough twists and turns that keeps you turning the pages until the surprising conclusion, you'll find yourself recruited as one of Elle's amateur sleuths on a quest to solve the puzzle of the school murders. The author weaves a masterful tale that takes the reader in many directions: between the murder mystery, Elle's psychological backstory, Elle's relationship with her best friends, and the paranormal activity, you can't help but try and keep up with this fast-paced riveting thriller.
With a quirky cast of characters who are very entertaining: from zany Elle and her hilarious best friends Susan, Becky, and Jenny; to ghostly Charlie who communicates with Elle from beyond the grave; to a host of potential suspects who each have a motive for murder; they keep the reader on their toes wondering who really is the murderer.
With witty and humorous dialogue and interactions; an intriguing storyline that takes the reader on a madcap adventure that alternates between the present with Elle's memory flashbacks to the past; and a richly detailed description of familiar Philadelphia landmarks; Child's Play is a tantalizing whodunit mystery thriller that will engage your imagination to the very end!
RATING: 4 STARS
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