Behind The Scenes (May 2020)
In which your intrepid author attempts to make writing about rum, drugs, and poop interesting.
This is supposed to be the newsletter where I share some pithy anecdotes about writing Bravo Too Much (Jack Dooley #2, on sale May 31st here). I dunno even where to start so Imma just ramble and see what happens.
Drugs sometimes make you shit yourself
There's a lot of drug and alcohol abuse in Bravo. I mean, a lot. If that's a trigger for any of y'all, fair warning. I'd been reading a lot of Hunter S. Thompson between stints of writing, and it probably shows. One of the things I appreciate about Thompson is his ability to generate poetry from a drug trip: talking about subjects instead of the trip itself. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas--while eminently a novel about All the Drugs--still manages to feature soliloquies about the end of the 1960s, Vietnam, Nixon, and all those important topics with which Thompson was wrangling. Very little of the book is about describing an actual trip.
That said, I love a good poop story as much as anyone, so I unfortunately didn't learn the right lessons from Thompson as a novelist. Jack Dooley is in a much different place in Bravo Too Much after The One Star Goodnight, and he's working through some trauma...alas, poorly. I wanted to explore that in a way that didn't end with a cliched after-school-special moral where drugs are bad, mmmkay? Instead, I was more interested in the balance of the good and the bad...the revelry prompted by buckets of beers and buddies and the payback in the morning. Why would anyone ever want to feel the way Jack does after a particularly insane night out with Tex and Preacher? Is it really addiction that propels one to do it all over again? I don't know...
Learning between books
People like to talk about what they learned or didn't learn as their craft evolves. That's not unique to writers. Sometimes people spend too much time trying to learn instead of just doing the shit they love. That's probably the best takeaway I came away with from the experience of writing Bravo Too Much.
I was writing the last few chapters of the book in Perth, Australia, whilst doing "real work" that earned "real money." That work had gotten to a point where I wasn't phoning it in so much as I had really perfected what needed to be done on any given day and made it super-efficient, thus freeing up my brain to have fun with Bravo once I finished up the day job. I'd usually walk back to the hotel, grab my writing laptop, go up to the rooftop bar and have several rum and cokes as my fingers ripped up the keyboard.
Incidentally, I'd like to take a moment to thank Adelaide Hills Distillery, the makers of what might be the finest rum I've ever had the pleasure of drinking: Gunnery Australian Spiced. Gunnery is only available in Australia and even then only sold to bottlers and hoteliers, so one can only find it for sale in the duty free shop of the Sydney airport or behind a hotel bar. I was lucky to have discovered Gunnery Spiced on a prior trip to Adelaide and doubly lucky that my hotel in Perth carried it. That hotel, the Quay Perth on the Esplanade of Elizabeth Quay, is a fantastic stay with an incredible bar staff that went out of their way to special order me some of this fabulous rum to take home. If you end up enjoying Bravo, thank Quay Perth and Adelaide Hills Distillery.
While very drunk on Gunnery Spiced rum and cokes, I also brainstormed the genesis for what will be the fourth book in the Jack Dooley series, Gaetano's Favor, so get ready for that shit, too.
What the hell was I talking about? I feel like I got off-track with rum. So be it.
Adelaide Hills: send rum. ASAP.
Was this stupid?
I can never tell if any of you fine folks are even reading this drivel. I'm just slinging a bunch of shit at the wall at this point to see what sticks. If there's anything else y'all want me to dish on, lemme know, and I'll cogitate on your suggestions.
Next newsletter, I will, however, get jiggy with commentary on my Bravo Too Much playlist on Spotify. Since the book will be out by that time, that newsletter will be an exclusive look at how the music in that playlist informs, inspires, and narrates the emotional and sometimes literal tone of the novel. If y'all like it, I may even go back and do the same thing another time for The One Star Goodnight playlist.
Thanks again, peeps. As usual, the bullet list below has links to share for others who might want to take a chance on my bullshit.