Overcome By Events

Overcome By Events
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Have you ever attempted something entirely new - a difficult project at home or work, a complex recipe you’ve been eyeing, or even something as seemingly simple as cutting your own hair during the early days of COVID lockdowns, only to have things get so incredibly jacked up that you had no choice but to step back and reassess the entire situation?

Maybe you found a way to continue. Maybe you threw up your hands and walked away.

The military has a term for this: Overcome By Events, or OBE.

In the military context, it means all your carefully laid plans are out the window due to events beyond your control. You’d better have a plan B, and preferably a plan C, in your back pocket if you hope to accomplish your mission.

When I sat down a few years ago to write a novel exploring the rapid changes occurring in American immigration policy, I barely had a plan A in place, let alone a plan B or a plan C. I just knew that I had to write something, and that I couldn’t wait another minute to start.

Sometimes stories are like that.

The novel kicked off with a bang. It was dark. It explored themes I had never dared to consider before. It spoke to me in ways my previous efforts hadn’t. For the first time I felt I was writing something bigger than straight genre fiction. It wasn’t quite literary , but it was something close. Or at least it felt like it.

There was a television in the coffee shop where I often wrote. Occasionally, I’d look up during my lunchtime writing sessions and catch an ominous headline about a new government policy that had just landed. Over the course of late 2017 and into 2018, these headlines increasingly caused me to look at elements of my own story with a critical eye, and to question whether the world into which I had placed my characters was that much worse than our own was becoming.

Real people were suffering. Families were being torn apart and children were being held in detention centers like animals.

This is the kind of stuff you make up when you write a book.

But when it starts to happen in real life…Holy shit.

My little novel had become Overcome by Events.

Eventually I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the fortitude to compete with the horrors I was seeing in the news every day.

I abandoned the manuscript. It just didn’t feel right anymore.

Fast-forward to a week ago, when I stumbled across The Broken Room, by Peter Clines. Clines has long been an auto-buy for me. But something in the blurb on Amazon leapt out at me and made me click the Buy it Now button even faster than usual:

You can still owe the dead.

Hector was the best of the best. A government operative who could bring armies to a halt and nations to their knees. But when his own country betrayed him, he dropped off the grid and picked up the first of many bottles.

Natalie can’t remember much of her life before her family brought her to the US, but she remembers the cages. And getting taken away to the Project with dozens of other young children to become part of their nightmarish experiments. That’s how she ended up with the ghost of a dead secret agent stuck in her head.

And Hector owes Natalie’s ghost a big favor.

Now Hector and Natalie are on the run from an army of killers sent to retrieve her. Because the people behind the Project are willing to risk almost anything to get Natalie back and complete their experiments.

I couldn’t figure out how to properly tell a story based on what I knew of those horrible times, but I’m happy to report Clines has pulled it off. In The Broken Room, he’s created a fast-paced and compelling book that’ll keep you turning the pages late into the night, all the while respecting the actual horrors of what actually happened in real life.

Get it now!