Published: October 21st, 2013
On the nights when 22-year-old Jessica Parker dreams, she relives one hellish memory—the day she was viciously raped in the woods by a man with a dragonfly tattoo. She wakes up feeling like the helpless child she used to be, and sinks back into her day-to-day life with her jaded mother, her mother’s live-in boyfriend and drug-dealer, Arnie, and her young sister, Rachel. Life seems stable enough for a while, and she almost believes that she can achieve some semblance of normality. That is until she catches word from Detective Sam Hayden that the monster that shattered her life has been released from prison.
Jessica is asked to relive her nightmarish ordeal again in order to help Hayden unravel an underground network of child sex-slave trafficking known as Dragonfly. This network hides the face of a serial killer he’s been hunting for ten years, and Jessica may hold the key to finding his identity. Together they follow every lead and struggle to unveil the dragonflies hidden among them behind the guise of neighbors, friendly strangers—even officers of the law—before another victim vanishes in a web that leaves no trace behind.
Thank you, Mr. Ronnell D. Porter
Your previous books are in the Fantasy/Paranormal area. Why the change and how was to write a mystery/thriller that takes place in “real” world?
- As you get older your interests change, and over the last year or so I suppose I've been less and less interested in the paranormal realm and more interested in what takes place in reality. I guess I also needed a break from the fantasy genre, since that's all I'd written before, and thought going a completely different direction would help rekindle inspiration - and it did. It reminded me of why I love building characters and I
took care to be true to them in their journey and their endeavors.
took care to be true to them in their journey and their endeavors.
Rape, child- slavery - they are not easy subjects, but ones that are hard to talk about. How could you transform them in a successful story that people will want to read?
I think reality draws us in. All fantasy villains are based on the worst people we've known in history, or personally, and even then, they're just shadows in comparison to what real human beings think, conspire, and do. And I think when it comes to the subject of rape, of human trafficking, or child abuse, there's a social taboo that I, for one, had had enough of hearing, which is: what happened to you was horrible, but no one wants to hear about it. Your story is too uncomfortable or disturbing, it might bother others, so just don't talk about it. Well, I want to talk about it, I want to get it out, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
What is the significance of the title – tattoo?
It's a bit of a major spoiler, but has to do with the founding of the human trafficking network in the story. As for the inspiration, a family friend from my childhood had a dragon tattoo. He had gone to prison for sexual assault not long after my mother and I had left town, and when I looked him up via the state sex-offender registry, he had been released from his ten year prison early on parole and currently lived in a halfway house. And in this halfway house, eight other individuals lived with him, two of which also had dragon tattoos and had served prison time for similar crimes. Now I couldn't really have my characters running around with dragon tattoos for obvious reasons, but I thought 'if they happened to share tattoos that weren't quite as common as a dragon, what could that connection mean?'
A manager at a nearby game store that I frequented with my friends had a dragonfly tattoo on his right wrist that wrapped around like a bangle. I told him about the project and story idea, asked if he would mind me taking his tattoo and running with the idea in the story, he said it was totally fine. So the dragon became a dragonfly, because a dragonfly tattoo is common enough to be considered a coincidence, but not so common that three individuals who served prison time for the same crime living under one roof could seem suspicious.
You said that “a novel written simply to entertain does its readers a disservice”. What do you think about „grant us a little more wisdom” in a pleasant, entertaining way? And can an Urban Fantasy story „change the way we perceive the world around us”?
Those are the bestsellers, of course; they are universally entertaining either by humor, by action sequences, by suspense - but there's a point to the story, it wasn't written just to have explosions in it. I once read a vampire novel that stumbled all over the place with no real point to anything that happened. A detective was attacked by a vampire, he sought revenge, and the next few hundred pages were just about him sniffing them out and killing them. He didn't learn anything, he didn't grow, I certainly didn't take anything from it, and overall I read through it just to reach the end. That's the type of book I think does a reader a disservice. There is no wisdom to impart, no lessons to be found, not even a tender moment to carry with you, or a string to pull sympathy out of your heart for this character.
Urban Fantasy novels are my favorite in the genre - I think I prefer them because characters (usually) endure problems we can all related to. It's not so far a stretch to empathize with them as in the average high-end fantasy. And I think they tie into our desire to believe that in our world there are fantastic magical secrets just waiting to be unraveled.
What is your opinion about gore and tension/suspense in a thriller story?
Gore had never really affected growing up because I was raised by an avid horror fan. So over the years I could watch gory films without batting an eye, even while eating dinner. But with gore in literature it's a different story, and I've really only learned that in the last five years or so. When you're seeing in film, you know it's all makeup and effects and the actor/actress is playing the part. With a book, you're reading it as though this character is a real person, and you've been intimate with them, been inside of their head, and care about them. So it's a bit more of a shock in a book, in my opinion. But I thought if I'm going to write this kind of story, I'm not going to play it safe, so I took the story exactly where I wanted to, gruesom as it may be.
Thanks so much for giving me the time and space, I hope to swing by here again in the near future!
About the author:
Ronnell D. Porter was raised in Ogden, Utah, and now resides in Denver, Colorado. During his free time he plays the violin, dabbles in graphic design, and, of course, thoroughly enjoys writing stories. He believes that a novel written simply to entertain does its readers a disservice; instead, a book’s narrative should always change the way we perceive the world around us, and grant us a little more wisdom than we had when starting the story.