I finished a new book. And I have to admit, this one fucked me up. Writing it, I mean. It’s called I WON’T SAY A WORD: A SAY MY NAME NOVEL. So it’s the second in the series, with the first (SAY MY NAME) out this June (Square Tire).
I made the decision to resurrect my dead brother Josh and make him a character in my latest mystery. I’m not sure if it works. Readers can decide that. Personally, I think it’s the best fucking thing I’ve ever written, with a kick-ass plot, in-depth, gut-wrenching characterization, and a mind-blowing ending; and as cool as all that may be (and for an author it’s very cool), I have to say, as a person—a man and a brother—um, yeah, it’s was a mind fuck.
Every day, I’d begin work and get to see Josh again. Anyone who knows writing or art or me knows I subscribes to a certain mindset. Like an actor, I engage in what I’d call “method writing.” Yeah, I know, it’s heavy-handed, cheesy, maybe overwrought. I don’t give a fuck. It’s how I create. I submerge.
I saw this great clip with John Mellencamp, whose looking a long way from his Johnny Cougar days, but good for him. Life is meant for living. Like Frank says, “We’re not delivering a perfect body to the grave.”
Anyway, in this clip Mellencamp says there’s a reason why so many artists are hypochondriacs. He evokes Stephen King, who he calls “Steve.” I guess they are friends. Mellencamp goes, “Steve says, Of course we’re hypochondriacs! We’re creators. When we’re not making art, we have to create something!” So we invent illnesses. Although sometimes illnesses are real, like the stage 3 chronic kidney disease I found out I had last week. Which turned out to be a typo. Guess it’s getting easier to be a doctor these days.
Back to Josh. So, yeah, I made my dead brother a character and for the past month I brought him back to life. We went on crazy adventures again, laughed and cried, and for eight to ten hours a day, it was like he never left.
That might sound nuts if you’re not a writer/artist. But I know it allowed me to say goodbye. Not a final one. But check off an item from the list.
I’m really proud of this book, and I set the record straight with what (who) killed our dad, no longer hiding behind fiction to spell out the guilty party. But it’s still fiction. Sort of. It’s also as close to a Junkie Love sequel as I’m likely to write. It’s basically if Jay Porter and Junkie Love had a baby.
Mike TV and I (and David Corbett) are doing some cool stuff over at Square Tire. Along with David, I am releasing my first ST book in June. David and I will be doing some local events in Northern CA (if we’re not under water and/or burning by then). So I hope to see you sometime in June.
In the meantime, if you want to help? Visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. I promise not to inundate your in-box but I should have some cool deals on new releases. Shit like that.
For the next six months, I get to rewrite this draft, which means more time with Josh. So calling this “goodbye” is totally disingenuous. Like the Boss says (and it gets repeated often in this book): “[The dead] don’t leave when they die; they leave when we do.”
I’ll be rewriting and proofing for a long time, getting to spend some quality hours with my best friend, so don’t feel sad. I’m also signing up for some more fucked up dreams…
Oh, one last thing about John Mellencamp. I finally got that line: “life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.”
Damn, that one’s a sucker punch to the solar plexus.
Here’s to sucking on chili dogs…