Novel to Novel: John Grisham and Christine Feehan

I decided to examine the writing styles of two authors that I thought were very interesting, Christine Feehan and John Grisham. I chose these two authors because they are very good writers and I enjoy reading their books. I thought it would be interesting to examine the writing styles of two writers from two different genres so that I could compare and contrast their different writing styles and to see what, if anything, they might have in common. Christine Feehan is a writer of Paranormal Romance. Her writing consists of “Carpathian” novels. Carpathians are vampire creatures – only they don’t prey on humans to the point of killing them. Those that kill humans are considered vampires and their decision to kill their prey makes them into consciousless monsters. The Carpathians’ duty to control these “fallen” members of their race is to hunt them down and kill them. Carpathian males need their “life-mate” to complete them, and after centuries of existing in a bleak empty world, they treasure that woman. They don’t court the woman in the accepted manner; these people learn to compromise in order to live together, they have no other real choice.

The settings change as the Carpathians must move around to hunt the vampires. Christine Feehan used many of the places that she had been herself, including the mountains where she lives. She uses places with volcanic backgrounds, unstable weather systems and plenty of wildlife. The heroines are strong women; some of them are young and unsure of themselves, but quickly develop their own sense of power, and some are mature and already confident.

Christine Feehan’s Carpathian novels have a very predictable sequence to them. First, males lose their ability to see color at about age 21 and will not regain it until they meet their mates. Second, sex scenes are intense and involve blood sucking, blood exchange, and always the warning that Carpathians have sex in a more savage fashion than humans and thus cannot have sex with humans because their super duper strength and giant man-hoods will kill the poor humans. Furthermore, there is always one “doggy-style from-behind” sex scene. It never fails; count on it. Third, Carpathians mate for life, and are entirely bound to each other, such that if the Carpathian male “goes to ground” during the day and is asleep and psychically unreachable by the female human, she is completely distraught and will try to kill herself rather than live without her mate. Fourth, Carpathians bind their mates to them with this Christian-vows-sounding oath that they recite in their own language while having sex, and that binds their mate to them in the self-destructive manner described above. Fifth, the human females that are in some way “eligible,” i.e. through existing psychic ability, some demonstratable higher power or sixth sense, can be turned into Carpathians with an exchange of blood at three separate times. The conversion process is full of high drama and much soul-twisting angst on the part of both the hero and the heroine, with lots of barfing and sickness for the converter. And sixth, the other Carpathians all have individual signature powers, and many of them focus on healing with herbs, candles, and chanting and singing, and there’s some weird dance involved with casting and un-casting a spell.

Christine Feehan has published about 26 novels, including four series: Dark Series; Leopard Series; Ghost Walker; and Drake Sisters. Her debut novel Dark Prince received 3 of the 9 Paranormal Excellence Awards in Romantic Literature for 1999. Since then she has been published by Leisure Books, Pocket Books, and currently is writing for Berkley/Jove. She has also won 7 or more PEARL awards.
John Grisham, on the other hand, is an author of several best-selling novels of the “legal thriller” genre. He practiced law for almost a decade and specialized in criminal defense and personal Litigation. His experiences with judges, courts and police have been useful in writing his novels. He began writing fiction in 1984 and finished his first book, A Time to Kill, in 1987. However, it was prejudged a regional novel and received little national attention. That same year he began working on a new book, The Firm, and in 1990 Paramount Pictures paid him $600,000 for the rights to his new book. His writing career skyrocketed and brought him international fame.

John Grisham’s books all contain information from politics and the legal profession, and all of them have a lawyer as one of the main characters. He writes from his experiences in both areas. His books, also, all are about the main character(s) being in danger and/or risking their lives. In his first novel, A Time To Kill, the main character, “Jake Brigance,” risked his life to defend a black man who was on trial for killing two white men that had raped his daughter. In his second novel, The Firm, the main character, Mitch McDeere, risked his life to uncover illegal crime operations within the law firm where he was recently hired. This theme is similar in each of his books.
Not only is John Grisham a really good novelist who has had many of his books turned into Hollywood films, he is also the publisher of the magazine, The Oxford American. His story, “The Painted House”, is currently being published in six issues of The Oxford American. Some of his other books include: The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rain Maker, The Runaway Jury, and others.

Even though John Grisham and Christine Feehan have two very different writing styles, the one thing that they do have in common is that they are both are best-selling authors.

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