Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am not a normal writer that would be a contradiction in terms. By definition writers are hardly normal. They dream up stories that never existed before, and populate them with people and scenario’s that are imaginary.

There is nothing wrong with this noble occupation, people have been following it since the invention of the chisel, and their efforts have prevented an unimaginable number of pratfalls from taking place. Without the writer to chart the uneven terrain of love, the dastardly realm of politics, or even the contradictory subatomic shenanigans of quantum physics, existence would be pure chaos.

For the writer of course, existence is pure chaos, and its measurement is in what one has to sacrifice. The life of a writer is solitary; it is solitary because one has to think. It isn’t really necessary to come to conclusions, in fact conclusions are to be avoided at all costs, because they paint one into a corner and corners are best left vacated until the final throes of ones final edit.

Keeping the story moving, adding twists and turns, and not being long winded are all excellent nuggets of advice for the writer trying to mine rich veins of adventure, comedy, or angst. The fact that they are all diametrically opposed to one another brings the errant writer to an almost Zen-like crossroads that he has to learn to transcend with the wily non-doing of a Taoist adept bent on immortality.

But wait a minute; this non-doing of which you speak is what writer’s have been waging war against since the dawn of time. It’s the blank page one stares at, the canvas un-painted, the word un-spelled, the story un-formed. It is the bane of every writer’s existence; it is the very thing that drives us up the wall. It is the most contemptible facet of an occupation that is otherwise the most pleasing of all artistic careers . . .isn’t it?

No! All of those things are doing, and they are indeed the friction that brings creativity to a halt. Non-doing does not only apply to writing, it applies to life itself. It is the cornerstone of a spiritual existence, it is the flexibility that water exhibits, it is not thinking oneself into a corner, and it is not taking oneself too seriously.

Why are you immune from all the pitfalls of being a writer? I hear you wonder, along with a string of curses and vicious invective that is better left unsaid. The truth is I’m not. I continue to fall into all the traps that bedevil you, and many, many more of my own invention. This is probably the reason I refuse to think of myself as a normal writer anymore, because as a normal writer I was at war with the blank page, and the best thing I ever learned to do, was to make peace with it.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Hank Williams won a Pulitzer Prize in April, he was 29 years old when he died, and he was the father of Country music. His 1952 Cadillac was being driven to a gig by a 19-year-old college freshman he'd hired as his chauffeur. The two drove around Montgomery for a while, then Hank got a shot of morphine to ease his aching back for the journey to the gig in Charleston.

Because of a snowstorm they stopped in Birmingham and got a hotel room, several women found their way to Hank's room, and when Hank asked them where they were from one of the girl's told him heaven; to which he replied, “that's the reason I'm going to hell.”

By the time they got to Knoxville it was obvious they wouldn't make the show in Charleston, so they grabbed a plane, but the plane was turned back due to bad weather.

The two got a hotel room, and ordered steaks from room service, after which Hank got hiccups that threw his body into wild convulsions.

They called a doctor and the doctor gave Hank another two shots of morphine mixed with vitamin B12.

They bundled Hank into the back of the car, and sped off to make the gig in Charleston. On the way they were stopped by the Highway Patrol and given a twenty-five dollar fine for speeding.

Hank was dead of course, and probably had been since Knoxville. But that wasn't important anymore, he'd created Country music, and in 67 years the Pulitzer Prize committee would agree that he'd done a great thing.

Country musicians do what they have to do, they play through the pain, and part of playing through the pain is revealing that which makes us hurt. It's not an easy thing to live with, and it's not an easy thing to watch. But Hank never seemed to mind it, as long as it ended up in a song, or some other form of sweet release. 

Hank's last song was called I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, and it was released one month before he died.


A writer has to find a rhythm; the words have to beat as the eyes dance over them. The syllables have to dance like the notes on a stave, they have to move seamlessly with the eyes and the mind, and hopefully not tread on any metaphorical toes.

If there is a misstep somewhere, the prose will crash to a grinding halt and the reader will have to back up, find what it was that caused the accident, and scrutinize it carefully to understand it before proceeding.

Stories rely on cadence, that’s how storyteller’s in days of yore held their audiences captive. They voiced the story, lilted, whispered, shouted, moaned, and whined. They beat a path to understanding, using words to create characters and situations that danced through their listeners’ minds.

I knew before getting into Vampyre Blood-Eight Pints of Trouble, that I needed a new sound, because Count Dracula, or Drac as he’s called in the book, was a story that was written in 1897 by that wonderful Irish author Bram Stoker, and Bram had a gothic style of writing that has become synonymous with the character.

So the Gothic style had to blend with a modern style in a folksy way that almost sings the words and carries the story along in a wavelike motion that doesn’t want to let you stop. It was kind of like Jack Kerouac meets P. G. Wodehouse in my mind, which it doesn’t seem at all like now, but that didn’t matter. I just needed a hook to hang my hat on so that I could sit down and listen to the characters as they dictated themselves.

At the very beginning of the book Count Dracula meets Waldo, the drummer of the Techno Zombies, a Goth rock band on a world tour, and as soon as this chance meeting takes place it adds a new layer to the story. The band plays four songs throughout the book, and their lyrics illustrate the inner turmoil the Count contends with as he struggles to become human again in a world that seems to have only one aim in mind—quashing individuality.

I have to admit there were many times throughout the creation of the story when the antics of my characters literally made me want to give up and walk away. But I didn’t, I hung in there and it made me realize that you can cut into life anywhere in the world, and you’ll find hearts beating, and minds working overtime trying to create their own story to lift them out of hum-drum and boring existences.

It may seem from what I’ve said here that this book came about in the last few years, but that isn’t true. I began writing this book before I was born, and every situation I found myself in, and every person I associated with in my life are a beat in that rhythm, and their spirits live on in this book. I guess in truth, this book is indeed a gift of the rhythm of life, and for that I am eternally grateful.


There is a place off the beaten track of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that I’m absolutely sure is caught up in some kind of weird time warp. A highly innocuous area filled with out of work males looking for handy man jobs.

Getting short term employment is an early bird occupation though, and when all hope seems to be lost that gainful employment will be secured, the action moves to a street in back, where a dice game begins for those that wish to try winning their pay for the day.

It’s a shabby place, a short cut between two major thoroughfares, and nobody ever goes there because they want to, they go there because they have to.  It’s the kind of place where the lost go to get lost, an inevitability in the center of a large city.

But when the sun goes down, and the gamblers leave the stage, the place gets quiet, and if you were looking down upon it from a roof or a high window, you’d see it’s a crossroads illuminated by a street lamp shedding a cone of pure light onto a filthy sidewalk: a sidewalk about to be cleansed, by the hot steam of pure genius.

The urban theater falls silent as intermittent sets of anonymous headlights sweep by, creating an eerie prelude for this evening’s program. A program devised by a wickedly talented impresario, and as the air tingles with electricity, anticipation builds to a crescendo.

Nobody knows who he is. He is an anonymous donor to the splendor of Los Angelean culture. He comes and goes like a shadow, and he performs a sacred task for the spirits of all the nameless actors that have pounded the streets of Hollywood looking for a role in a silent movie, a talkie, or a 3D blockbuster.

His mind is not complicated by highfalutin cultural ideals. His mission is carried out in secrecy, for only in secrecy can the truth of the moment be totally revealed. Only in secrecy can the flower of talent blossom. Only in secrecy can the energies that permeate the universe be configured into a vehicle that carries the heart onward toward its dream.

He steps out of the shadows as if he were stepping through the doorway of his soul. Cloaked in darkness he moves swiftly to the base of the streetlamp, it’s a comfortable place for him, a place where his whole being is nurtured by healing rays that move up from the earth, and transfuse with their counterparts that fall upon him from the heavens.

He has a moment of doubt as his long dark cloak slips from his shoulders and falls to the hard concrete. He is free. The plunging neckline from his dirty white shirt is tucked tightly into his trousers, and his round Buddha belly protrudes from it like a melon. He rubs it softly with both hands while wondering if he will be able to do what he has to do once more, to save the human race and the universe from total destruction.

He stretches out his arms and gazes at his hands; he then looks at his thumbs and his fingers. Everything depends on the next move. He brings his hands toward the shirt covering his breasts and slowly pulls away the material. He has arrived at the moment: the piece de résistance.

His thumbs and forefingers encircle his nipples, and twist. A look of ecstasy invades his face. He twists them tighter, harder, and faster, and then before he knows it he is lost.

A symphony begins playing in his head, and the cruel harsh world beneath the streetlamp disappears. This is where he really lives, this is his moment to shine, and this is what he was born for. He has no idea how long he’ll stand here twisting his nipples. Until they’re sore for sure: and even beyond hopefully.

He knows only one thing; he is driven. He also knows that every religious figure in history was laughed at when they first brought their message to the masses: and as cars drive by filled with incredulous faces staring at him in awe, he knows that one-day his way will enslave them all, just as it has enslaved him.