Monday, July 24, 2017

Melanie and Nick Discuss My Hero

My Hero by Stephen Graham Jones
Format: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Hex Publishers
Released: June 2017

“Je ne c’est pas ici une bande dessinée”

A review/conversation with Melanie & Nick Page

Melanie: You look at the cover of My Hero and see a sketch of someone, like Superman. So, you’ve got some expectations for this comic book going in. But it’s all words. Like, not just speech bubbles, but words describing what a picture should be instead of a picture. I thought this could go someplace interesting -- form matching content. What was your first impression?

Nick: I glanced at the cover but did not notice that the crosshatching on the figure was the names of superheroes written in small text. Immediately, I noticed that the pages are framed in the type of template that comic artists tend to draft panels in, that being a box with spaces to mark which issue, page, frame, etc. Once you got in, were you able to pick up the story?

Melanie: Ha, no, not at all. I couldn’t tell who the speaker was. I could tell there was a plotline about kids wanting to create a superhero comic together, but the character names come about randomly, so it was hard to piece together a story. I ended up getting frustrated and stopping about one-third through to see what else was in My Hero. I saw there were some color images . . . I kept going and found at the end of the book Stephen Graham Jones’s explanation of how this book came about, how he had a bunch of time off and was going to focus on a werewolf book (I assume the now-published Mongrels), but couldn’t let go of the idea of a comic book after he bought some drawing paper while in the craft section of a store with his daughter. I like the idea he had: one time when it flooded in Texas during his son’s Boy Scout camping trip, Jones backed his truck through the camp to rescue his son’s tent gear. He now realizes that he could have killed anyone’s kid in a very stupid moment. But was that what the comic book My Hero was about?

Nick: I don’t think it was about anything. This seems more like an idea-sketch that isn’t meant to represent a coherent narrative as much as it is supposed to be an opportunity to play with the form. I end up thinking back to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics in which he breaks down the rules of comics and explores how they work. McCloud discusses the continuum between the word and the picture, so my first thoughts were trying to place this book somewhere between a conventional novel and a graphic novel. There are odd examples somewhere in the middle like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves that start from the novel end of the spectrum and use creative typesetting, font choices, and story breaks to add a visual element. I have also seen webcomics, such as Erfworld, that alternate between graphic novel and pages of text that may include an illustration. Between examples starting from either end of the continuum, I think Stephen Graham Jones was trying to sit somewhere in the middle and scratch a creative itch more than tell a story. What were some of the details that stuck out to you?

Melanie: I just kept thinking about the kids in the tent in the backyard, holding flashlights and getting amped about the comic they would write. Why didn’t they write a comic about a superhero who accidentally hurts a kid instead of saves him? We’d get meta-comic book action! And Jones would get his story about the truck. But in the end text, Jones says that he is the narrator and also the man with the truck? I guess there aren’t enough indicators in the first part of the comic to help me get something out of My Hero. I want to say that Jones’s work reminds me of Gertrude Stein, who, when asked why she didn’t write the way people read, answered, “Why don’t you read the way I write?” Jones could fall into that camp . . . except he doesn’t when he goes about explaining himself so much in an endnote. Every book of his I’ve read has been explained either in the book or an interview. And all I can think about is the end of a fiction workshop. The writer has been quiet, the students have talked over his story, and then the writer explains what he meant to do . . . and the students all get excited about the writer’s ideas, forgetting the ideas aren’t even in the story. I also have no idea what the drawings without words, which is like a separate comic book afterward, are about.

Nick: There’s a comic-story layer and a story-about-the-comic-the-kids-are-writing layer, and their superhero, Doby, gets pulled from one layer to the other. It looked like people from the comic-story layer think Doby’s dead and the pages with art are of the funeral. An interesting element of this book is that you’re asked to imagine all of the visuals, but the book then goes ahead and fills you in on what the kids’ comic book characters really look like. Totally in line with your point about Jones needing to go back and explain his story. I did notice a couple of things in the book that might be references. At the funeral, a girl’s boots remind me of the Infinity Gauntlet, which will be familiar to fans of Marvel comics. The number #52 was scribbled in a couple of places, which could be a reference to a DC comics series called “52” that came after a mini-series called “Infinite Crisis” which was a sequel to “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” The point of these books was to unravel decades of messy backstories, crossovers, and side plots put together by hundreds of DC comic writers across all the different superhero series. Appropriate to reference in a book that seems to be trying to conjure a sense of deep backstory for characters we only meet briefly. The framing device seems to be the star of the show here, the comic artists’ template complete with coffee stains and such. It was interesting to see the thought process of Jones trying to figure out how to fill the space on the page with words, but do you think it carried the book?

Melanie: I loved the concept, but found no story and then was further confused when Jones wrote what My Hero was supposed to be about . . . of which I saw no traces. I would guess the audience is graduate students in an experimental fiction class. Plus, it’s a hardcover book, which limits the audience further due to the cost. Why not publish it like a comic book?

Nick: I don’t think superhero fans will find much in this book, but it may be interesting if you are trying to approach comics from an academic perspective - especially if you’re a fan of Jones’ fiction. If you set aside the bits of plot and look to how Jones, as a novelist, works through the process of plotting out a superhero comic, you can sort’ve pick out where he’s was going with this book, but ultimately Jones all but admits this was a pile of notes published as a book by Hex Publishers, which seeks to promote genre comics from voices outside of the mainstream. But, I don’t think My Hero would find a publisher if it wasn’t carried by the name of the author.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kaitlin Solimine Takes it to the Toilet

Oh yes! We absolutely have a series on bathroom reading! So long as it's taking place behind the closed  (or open, if that's the way you swing) bathroom door, we want to know what it is. It can be a book, the back of the shampoo bottle, the newspaper, or Twitter on your cell phone - whatever helps you pass the time...

Today, Kaitlin Solimine takes it to the toilet. She is the author of the new novel Empire of Glass, which was called "bold and luminous" by National Book Award finalist Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and received a five star review in Foreword ReviewsHer award-winning writing has been published in National Geographic News, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, China Daily, Guernica Magazine, and Kartika Review, among others. Her work focuses on travel, exploration, expatriate culture, US-China relations, environmental issues, and motherhood. She has lived around the world—from New England to China to Singapore to San Francisco—and is co-founder of the academic media network Hippo Reads. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. She was a 2016 SF Writers Grotto Fellow and is working on her next novel while also associate producing the childbirth documentary, Of Woman Born

Ode to a Poop

I labored on this toilet. So I can’t ignore the fact this porcelain bowl has deep significance beyond defecating and urinating into it. This toilet has received so much, and, at the same time, offered an equivalent amount of serenity and support.

There’s been much written and elucidated about the similarities between writing a book and giving birth. But I have never written a book while sitting on the toilet. I nearly gave birth on this toilet (my daughter was born an hour later on my bedroom floor in a planned home birth). I guess that is a critical difference between the two—I don’t think I could ever write on a toilet; the stench, the hard seat digging into one’s fleshy thighs, is just not what I need to write. Thinking and reading—sure. But writing and creating literary worlds don’t mesh with defecation for me (despite how both can be arduous, painful, and yet deeply satisfying in the end).

But reading: yes! Toilets are lovely reading spots. And when you have a noisy, curious toddler, bathrooms can be incredible places to seek quiet and respite. I do a lot of thinking on the toilet, the waiting for the bodily relief of what is hopefully to come (when it doesn’t arrive quickly), and then luxuriating in the space post-poo, taking a few breaths, a needed escape, before returning to the world. I also use the toilet to catch up on reading that has otherwise fallen to the wayside. Before I had a child that meant The New Yorker. But the stack beside the toilet grew onerously high and only reminded me I was an entire year behind in my reading—so I shamefully gave up my subscription because I couldn’t bear to see that pile and be reminded how much reading I had yet to catch up on. Now, motherhood consuming me, the books beside my toilet are entirely parenthood related—Touchpoints by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., Diary of a Baby by Daniel Stern, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner, La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali.

These books seem quite practical, but imagine pooping and reading Stern’s dreamy psychoanalytical lyricism describing the experience of infancy: “Each moment has its own sequence of feelings-in-motion: a sudden increase in interest; a rising, then a falling wave of hunger pain; an ebbing of pleasure.” Or in Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, “The difference between limits and control is an important one, like the difference between a protective bubble and a straightjacket.”

What I love about what we read and do on the toilet (aside from the obvious) is how, like the act of defecation, it speaks to some kind of essentiality of our individual human experiences. For example, before I had kids and was an aspiring writer (okay, I’m still the latter), I thought reading The New Yorker would make me smarter, be entertaining and enlightening. So that’s what I did on the toilet. At other times, like in college, the toilet was where I read gossip magazines because it was where I could do my “dirty business” (e.g., catch up on celebrity gossip or articles on how to snag a husband in less than three dates). I don’t know why shit and pop culture go so brilliantly together (okay, maybe that’s obvious) but I suspect there’s always been a correlation throughout history. My husband reads about politics on the toilet. Given recent political news, that correlation couldn’t be more clear.

Yet perhaps we don’t give bathroom reading enough credit. Perhaps it speaks to our most critical inner need at that moment. Like the need to defecate, how we’d die of sepsis without doing so, maybe it fills a space of both inane and mundane, echoing what it ultimately is: Ode to a Poop. As in how and where we give birth, bathroom reading matters greatly, accompanies, and plays accomplice to, one of our most necessary, most overlooked, most universal human acts.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Page 69: Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 
We put Jacob Appel's Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana to the test! 

Set up page 69 for us, what are we about to read?

This is the second page of the short story, Boundaries, about two American border agents who are assignment to guard an obscure Canadian border crossing on Christmas eve--only to find themselves confronting unexpected cases of love and smallpox.

What’s the book about?

On the surface, this is a quirky short story collection featuring a minister whose dead wife is romantically involved with Greta Garbo, a landlord antagonized by a rent-delinquent mime and a diplomat's wife who attempts to seduce her chimney sweep through Norwegian lessons. Of course, at a deeper level, its a complex cryptogram whose solution reveals both the Pentagon's nuclear codes and the locations of El Dorado and Atlantis.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

No.  This is the weakest page in the book by leaps and bounds.  My agent and editor, upon reading the initial draft, both said.  "We loved your book.  It's a masterpiece to rival the best writing of Shakespeare and Tolstoy.  Pure genius.  Except for page 69.  What drivel!  What sentimental bunk!  What blasphemy and obscenity!  We both strongly recommend skipping straight from page 68 to page 70."  I didn't follow their advice, and here is the result....


Jimmy Durante accent. “Maybe it’s acute global cooling,” he adds. “They say the Nineteenth Century Minimum came on without warning.”
I don’t know much about Little Ice Ages or Nineteenth Century Minimums, but I’m willing to trust Artie’s opinion. He’s not only a first-rate border agent, but he’s also the most talented art-glass blower in Franklin County, as well as head docent at the local historical society, so he knows more about most things at thirty-four than I know about anything at forty-seven. If he told me we were actually slipping back into the nineteenth century itself, I’d probably believe him. The truth is that, except for the security cameras mounted on the eaves, our little colonial-style headquarters has hardly changed since my French-Canadian grandparents migrated south. Last year, Chief Crowley even found a sheet of unused three-cent stamps at the back of her supply closet.
“You’ve outdone yourself, Phoebe Laroque,” says Artie, surveying the bowls of green beans and candied yams and chestnut stuffing crammed onto the folding bridge table. “This is truly a feast fit for royalty.”
Artie offers this same praise every year—and every year his words flush warmth through my cheeks like a pitcher of red wine. “Merry Christmas, my dear heathen friend,” I say, grinning, raising my mug of fake eggnog. “Bon appétit!”
“To the chef!” answers Artie. He taps his mug against mine—gently, like Eskimos nuzzling noses. “To the Julia Child of the North!”
He’s not drunk, just enthusiastic. I wish I had one-tenth of his energy. Even when I was thirty-four and happily married to Neal—or when I thought I was happily married to Neal—I never loved life like Artie does. Not with that much gusto. I suppose if I’d been born beautiful—externally beautiful, like my sister, Valerie—I might have found


Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012.  His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and was published by Black Lawrence in November 2013.  He is the author of five other collections of short stories:  The Magic LaundryThe Topless Widow of Herkimer StreetEinstein's Beach HouseCoulrophobia & Fata Morgana and Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets; an essay collection, Phoning Home; and another novel, The Biology of Luck.  He practices psychiatry in New York City.  More at: 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Lee L. Krecklow

Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....


Today's ink story comes from Lee L. Krecklow, who recently released his debut novel The Expanse Between

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

It took me until I was nearly 40 to get my first tattoo. I was never opposed to the idea. I didn’t need to build up courage. But there was never an image, an idea, a mark I thought I could carry forever and with which I could always identify. Nothing seemed like it could last. But once I found it, I was ready.

The typewriter, the classic machinery of writing, is permanently associated with the craft. The image lasts. Much like vinyl for music, the tool was supplanted in popularity by newer, more convenient machinery, but it lives on for those with a deeper, more reverent understanding of the art. On my arm I wanted to see the workings of the machine. The mechanics. The glint of the metal. I wanted to hear it.

Kerouac wrote those words on an Underwood typewriter, and I used the same type of machine as the template for my tattoo. “On The Road” is one of the few books I’ve returned to over the years, finding more in it on each passing. Not only does it work for me as literature, but also as a blueprint for how I wish I could write. Here, burn, burn, burn is less for me about the context of the full quote, but more of a reminder to work as Kerouac did, by never leaving room for a yawn or for a commonplace word, but to open up and explode and to leave anyone who might be generous enough to read your work going, “Awww!


Lee L. Krecklow is the author of the novel The Expanse Between (2017, Winter Goose Publishing). He was the winner of the 2016 storySouth Million Writers Award, and has fiction appearing in Eclectica, Oxford Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, The Tishman Review, Storychord and others. Find more at

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blog Tour: Mind Virus

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

This installment of The Page 69 Test is part of the Mind Virus Virtual Tour, 
which runs from 6/25 - 7/10. 


In this installment of Page 69, 
We put Charles Kowalski's Mind Virus to the test.

Set up page 69 for us:

Robin Fox and his colleagues at the interagency HIG (High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group) are questioning a terror suspect, called “Harpo” because he hasn’t said a word since his arrest. Their polygraph team has just given him the Silent Response Test, asking him questions and showing a video meant to provoke strong emotional responses, while closely observing and recording his vital signs and facial expressions.

What’s the book about?

Robin Fox, peace-loving professor of world religions, was once a decorated military interrogator, but he found the Bronze Star on his chest no compensation for the scar on his heart, and he has been striving ever since to make amends for his complicity in war crimes. But when an unidentifiable suspect tries to disperse a deadly virus in downtown Washington – the same one used in an attack on American forces in Iraq that Fox foiled – Fox is unwillingly drawn back into the shadowy world of intelligence.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

This is a turning point in the story, where the FBI and CIA get their first major clue that the suspect may not be what they think he is. When they show Harpo a back-alley YouTube clip making a mockery of Mohammed, his reaction is very different from what they expect, as we see when the scene continues:

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Fox asked.
 “Maybe,” Kato said in a voice that sounded as mystified as he felt. “That looks like Action Unit 12A, neutralized.” 
“Which means?” asked Adler. 
“A trace contraction, quickly suppressed, of the zygomaticus major and risorius.” 
“In English, please?” 

“She said,” Fox translated, “that he was hiding a smile.”



Charles Kowalski is almost as much a citizen of the world as his fictional character, Robin Fox, having lived abroad for over 15 years, visited over 30 countries, and studied over 10 languages. His unpublished debut novel, Mind Virus, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Adventure Writers’ Competition, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary award. Charles currently divides his time between Japan, where he teaches English at a university, and his family home in Maine. 

Mind Virus is scheduled for publication by Literary Wanderlust on July 1, 2017. Other novels and short stories by Charles Kowalski: “Let This Cup Pass From Me”, “Arise, My Love”, “The Evil I Do Not Mean To Do”.

Charles can be found at his website, and on Facebook and Twitter (@CharlesKowalski).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blog Tour: The Adventures of Juicebox and Shame

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a weekly series that will feature a different author every Wednesday as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

Today's Where Writers Write is part of The Adventures of Juicebox and Shame virtual tour. 

This is Liv Hadden

Liv Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and currently resides in Georgetown, TX with her partner and two dogs, Madison and Samuel, where she is an active member of Writer’s League of Texas. Her 2016 release In the Mind of Revenge received high praise from Blue Ink Reviews, Writer’s Digest, Kirkus ReviewsindieBRAG and five stars from Foreword Clarion Review.

Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions. It’s no wonder she teamed up talented tattoo artist Mo Malone (who scribed a majority of Hadden’s body work) to create her latest release The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame.

Where Liv Hadden Writes

So, I was supposed to have taken cool pictures of all the places I was writing during an epic month-long road trip I took a couple weeks ago…but, I didn’t. I’m one of those people who barely take any photos of their vacation, share maybe like 2-3, then get hounded by their family to share their non-existent trip photos for months.

Instead of seeing all those cool unique places I wrote, I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for the normal, old, regular places I write. But, since I’m a writer, I’ll add a little zest so they seem a bit more…intriguing.

The Desk: For when I’m feeling oh so serious.

Sometimes, you gotta get real. It’s time to honker down for the long haul and get some words on pages like it’s your job. I mean, it is my job…but I use my desk when I feel like being a bit corporate and breaking a real sweat.

Requirements when using The Desk:
·         Warm tea
·         Cold water
·         Productivity Journal
·         A rad Spotify station based on The Devil Makes Three or Jack Johnson
·         Lip balm, cuz who can write with dry lips?

The Couch: For when I want easy access to my fridge.

I’m hungry. Yes, right now. I was hungry thirty minutes ago, and I’ll be hungry in ten more. Basically, I’m always hungry. Working from the couch is a great way to get some work done and eat at the same time. You just go around the corner and there it is, a mecca of personally selected items to delight my mouth and satiate my bottomless pit of a stomach. I try not to write on the couch too often for fear I’ll wake up one more and be stuck in my bed, which is a place I do not like to write.

Requirements when using The Couch:
·         Warm tea
·         Cold water
·         A dog to cuddle with
·         A napkin
·         A plate to refill
·         Delicious food

The Chair: For when I need to channel my inner JK.

There are times I look at that pillow and think, “I’ll never write anything as good as Harry Potter. Just stop writing and go read HP—it’s probably more productive anyway.” But, if I sit on the pillow, I think, “You are full of so many good ideas! Keep writing and putting your work out there. Soon, you’ll find the best idea you possible can and write a super rad book.” I can’t decide if it’s because my butt has magical properties, or if the pillow does, but I try not to ask too many questions.

Requirements when using The Chair:
·         Warm tea
·         Cold water
·         Productivity Journal
·         My phone in case I start to feel so positive I have to take a selfie
·         tiny snack bowl…to discourage too much eating, but allow myself a few treats

You may have noticed that warm tea and cold water are requirements for every writing area. That’s because I have a twitch when I work: I periodically have to drink something. I don’t know the physiology behind this, but writing makes me soooooooo thirsty.  I’ve finished an entire mug of tea just writing this post. As you can imagine, I avoid frequenting coffee shops too often as I’ll drop $40-$50 way too easily just in tea.

In short, I write in highly exclusive places that offer unlimited tea and food. And that, my friends, is real privilege.


Illustrator Mo Malone
Malone has been making art since she was a kid. Offered a tattoo apprenticeship while obtaining a B.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University. Malone briefly diverted from tattooing to be an elementary and middle school teacher,  an experience she greatly enjoyed, but ultimately came back to her artistic roots. She has tattooed at Rick’s Tattoo in Arlington, Virginia (where she got her start), Iron Age Studio in St. Louis, Missouri and Triple Crown Tattoo in Austin, Texas where she met Hadden.

A lover of travel, her craft has taken her all over the world, to include a dozens of tattoo conferences spanning from New York to Moscow. You can now find Malone back in St. Louis at Ragtime Tattoo. She has recently joined Evil Prints to expand into screen-printing, and when she’s not working her magic in the art world, you can find her feeding her adventurous spirit BMXing at her local skate park or wandering the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Page 69: The Killbug Eulogies

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 
We put Will Madden's The Killbug Eulogies to the test!

Set up page 69 for us:

Kitt’s father, a champion ragnarite miner, had made enough money to send him on a three-year tour of the galaxy as a teen. Not as affluent as other space tourists or as poor as interstellar vagabonds, Kitt spent the time isolated and alone, studying flora and fauna, missing the homeworld. Having experienced the wonders of nature across countless planets, he returns to find his own desolate and monochrome, his people backward and boorish.

What’s the book about?

The Killbug Eulogies tells of soldiers who grew up together on a mining planet, who now fight giant space insects in a galactic war. The characters’ darkly humorous stories are told in funeral speeches after they’ve been killed in gruesome ways. For instance, when we meet Kitt, he had captured a thorbeetle, which generates electricity through a fission reactor in its abdomen. He was trying to use it to boost the power generator when it impaled him, cooked him from the inside out until he exploded in a shower of ground meat. The mourners at his funeral try not to be distracted by the tempting aroma.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

I think so. In different ways, the characters in this book clash with the rigid values and belief systems of the working class world that produced them. Suspicion meets almost any unique experience the men could use to bolster their chances of survival. When Kitt drags the thorbeetle into camp to rectify a power shortage, he has the satisfaction of menacing the others with a dangerous monster only he has the skill to handle. Buried insecurities and festering resentment have made the soldiers hostile to their own salvation. The page gives a window to the mutual failure of empathy at the root of the problem.

PAGE 69: 


Will Madden is a Nashville-based author, originally from the Bronx, New York. He holds a degree in something ridiculous from a fancy institution of higher education. By day he performs menial labor so that by night he has enough brain power to deliver the hard-hitting truths about the struggles of imaginary monsters. He juggles and knits.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Christopher David Rosales' Guide to Books & Booze

Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

Today, in honor of  "Name Your Posion Day", Christopher David Rosales' is throwing a drink at his novel Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper


Old Fashioned Paloma

The cocktail I pair with my novel Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper is an Old Fashioned married to a Paloma. A Paloma is typically 2 ounces of tequila, 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, a pinch of salt, and 6 ounces of Jarritos grapefruit soda. It’s a favorite drink in Mexico, and while camping in California my friends and I would always make them on the cheap using tequila and Squirt.

With the help of my friend, poet and bartender Derrick Mund, we concocted something new. Though the Paloma was the main idea, we muddled grapefruit rind in sugar to create a syrup along the lines of an Old Fashioned, and added some bitters too. The grapefruit rind you see as garnish, Derrick shaped into a rose for my last name, Rosales.

Old Fashioned Paloma Recipe

2.5 oz Raicilla or Mezcal
 .5 oz Grapefruit Simple Syrup
One Dash Plum Bitters
One Dash Grapefruit Bitters
One Dash Angostura Bitters
Stir Ingredients and Strain Over Ice
Garnish with Grapefruit Twist

This is a drink heavily influenced, like the book, by my nostalgia for Paramount, California (in L.A. County) and all of our old family parties. The song, “Cucurrucucu Paloma”, was one of my grandmother’s favorites. When cleaning out her garage after she passed away, I found a cassette tape loaded up on sides A and B with all of the alternate versions of that song recorded through the years. This version, featured in the film Habla Con Ella, was my favorite:

Dicen que por las noches

No más se le iba en puro llorar
Dicen que no comía
No más se le iba en puro tomar
Juran que el mismo cielo
Se estremecía al oír su llanto
Cómo sufrió por ella
Y hasta en su muerte la fue llamando
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay cantaba
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay gemía
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay cantaba
De pasión mortal moría
Que una paloma triste
Muy de mañana le va a cantar
A la casita sola
Con sus puertitas de par en par
Juran que esa paloma
No es otra cosa más que su alma
Que todavía espera
A que regrese la desdichada
Cucurrucucú paloma, cucurrucucú no llores
Las piedras jamás, paloma
¿Qué van a saber de amores
Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú
Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú
Cucurrucucú, paloma, ya no le llores

It’s a song about love, passion, and mourning. It’s equally sad and sweet.

Now, full disclosure: I love puns much more than most writers will admit (Silence the Bird . . . / Paloma is Spanish for Dove), but the Old Fashioned Paloma pairs well with my novel for more reasons than that. The song, “Cucurrucucu Paloma” is about contradiction. As the singer begs the dove not to cry, he is issuing the very cry in his request.  Similarly, my novel is about both lament at war and fulfillment of peace. It is about tragedy and hopefulness in a time of civil strife. And it’s about a community who love to celebrate with each other, who love to sit around and tell their own story, likely with a drink in hand.


Christopher David Rosales' first novel, Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper (Mixer Publishing, 2015) won the McNamara Creative Arts Grant. Previously he won the Center of the American West's award for fiction three years in a row. He is a PhD candidate at University of Denver and has taught university level creative writing for 10 years.. Rosales' second novel, Gods on the Lam releases in June, 2017 from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Word is Bone, his third novel, is forthcoming 2018 from Broken River Books.