Thursday, April 14, 2011

Riots and the Righteous

By Kelli Stanley

It seems like forever since I've sat down to right an honest-to-goodness blog. First there was the book tour ... then there was Left Coast Crime ... then there was the burglary of my house, which has taken (and is taking) a great deal of time to deal with. I'm really, really grateful to Shane, my blog buddy, good buddy, and ace substitute for filling in for me ... he also needs a shout-out for being shortlisted for a Thriller Award--yay, Shane-Meister!!! :)

I also want to thank my fellow blogmates for bearing with my absence ... my schedule was already impossible before the burglary, and ... now I just laugh at it. ;)

So, back to the post. The subject for the day is a riot. No, I mean literally.

Riots are nasty. They're a sort of unified mob chaos, with random individual acts of crime and violence ... even those riots that are initiated by positive events (like winning a Super Bowl or a World's Series). Those that are begun out of frustration and anger with a political or social event can be even worse. Innocent people are inevitably hurt--or even killed--because of the temporary, uncontrolled madness and lifting of inhibitions that embody riots. And of course, criminals--by definition anti-social--will take advantage of the chaos for profit.

I was nearly caught in a riot in Greece once when I was a young student and studying in Italy. A political rally turned nasty ... as politics often does. Let me put it this way: nothing undertaken by an out-of-control mob ever feels good. There isn't much difference between a riot and a lynching, except that the latter is smaller and focuses on a defined, murderous goal.

What's frustrating, though, is that good things have emerged from bad acts. Riots have helped change policy and law--for the better--by calling attention to an issue that might otherwise be ignored by the power-brokers. And because this is the case, they continue to be viewed as a viable form of protest, and are--witness the recent events in Egypt. Riots can lead to revolution, which might lead to a stronger sense of individual rights and freedom.

Miranda Corbie, however, will have none of it.

Miranda distrusts people in general, and in groups, she distrusts them even more. There is no such thing as a safe mob. So ... if she's hauled to the Hall of Justice down on Portsmouth Square one day in 1941--and presented with a charge of inciting a riot--she'd call her attorney, Meyer, who would get the charges dismissed. Because Miranda would never start a riot ... though she would try her damnedest to end one.

Say, a riot targeting Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. Or the "Zoot-Suit" riots in Los Angeles. Or the "Bloody Thursday" riot of San Franciso's great strike in 1934.

Because the problem with riots is that innocent people are harmed ... even if the underlying cause is just. And in Miranda's world--where politics and politicians are largely concerned for themselves, rather than for the citizens--where the citizens themselves are more concerned with food on the table and Amos and Andy than they are with what's going on around them--where the people you trust you can number on one hand and maybe two fingers--in that world, riots and the mob violence that define them are what Miranda fights against.

Because saving the dry cleaner on the corner--making sure the drug store's windows aren't broken--picking up the lost kid caught in the middle of a gunfight--are the causes she's fighting FOR.

Miranda returns in CITY OF SECRETS on September 13th ... she's got a lot of fighting ahead.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Welcome back, Kelli! And I'm so looking forward to the next Miranda book.

Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

I'm certainly going to look out for you book.

Riots are very frightening as they are so unpredictable.

Regards from Dublin, Ireland.

TracyK said...

We missed you Kelli! Congrats on the upcoming book!

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, my dear wonder woman Sue!! :)

CITY OF SECRETS is, if anything, more explosive than CITY OF DRAGONS ... Miranda's got a job ahead!


Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks for the comment, TFBW (and I love the nom de plume, btw)! :)

Have a wonderful weekend, and the best to you and yours from San Francisco!

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Tracy!! :) It's a special "double publication" year for me ... next year will definitely NOT be so prolific.

The PB of CITY OF DRAGONS comes out August 30th, then the HC of CITY OF SECRETS in September, and in May the PB of FIRST THRILLS (Becky and I have stories, in addition to former CMers CJ and Bill).

So lots of covers to fondle! ;)


P.S. How can a man who locks his mad wife up in an attic become a Romantic ideal?? ;)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Welcome back, Kelli! We've missed you! Miranda might not start a riot, but she's just the woman I'd want by my side if I were caught in one. Can't wait to read about her new adventures!

Kelli said...

Thanks, Becks!! I've missed you guys!!

Miranda will be hunting anti-Semitic American hate groups in the next book ... which will take her out of San Francisco for a few days on a memorable journey north, to Calistoga.

Napa Valley will never seem the same ... :)


Shane Gericke said...

Kelli, you were missed, and not only because I am a poor substitute for your wonderful writing! Thanks for the shoutout on my nom for the Thriller Award. I'm still grinnin'.

When I was a youngun in the newspaper biz in the late 1970s, I covered the Nazis marching in Skokie, which wound up being Nazis marching in Chicago because of a court ruling. Positioned myself right between the front of the crowd and the edge of the riot cops. As the mood of the crowed started turning ugly when the Nazis arrived--pathetic they were, truly--I thought, Hmm. This is really gonna suck, being here, if it turns to riot. Found myself a stone column to push myself against and got out of the way.

No riot, fortunately, but man, the stink of almost-riot still stays with me. So I know what you mean in your most excellent blog.

Welcome home. We missed you.

Diana James said...

Hey Kelli - Awesome post.. gotta love that Miranda, she's one tough babe.
Love the cover of City of Secrets, its gorgeous!!!

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Diana!! :)

I've been lucky with my covers, that's for sure.

I often wish I were as tough as Miranda ... one of these days I'll design a t-shirt that says "What would Miranda do?"! ;)

Hope to see you at LAFOB, and hugs to you and Darrell!!

Kelli Stanley said...

Shane, darlin', you know how to make a girl feel wanted. :)

And that Thriller nom is something your blogmates saw coming a long time ago, so we're absolutely jumping for joy that it's official!!

Yeah, riots are scary as hell ... that primal odor of uncontrolled violence. Once you've danced around the edges of one, you never forget.

And THANK YOU for subbing for me!!!!


Meredith Cole said...

Glad to have you back, Kelli! And I'm glad Miranda will be back with a new adventure.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thank you, Meredith!! I hope Miranda will be around for a long, long time to come.