On Beer and Sex and Writing
I get a lot of sideways looks when I tell people I’m a “published author.”
“Of what?” is the inevitable question. I live in a quintessential College Town, complete with authors of all ages, sizes and genres. It also has its fair share of would-be, pre-published types in all stages of regret, rejection and story arc outlining.
I get a similar eye-brow raise when I tell people “I own a craft micro-brewery.” Especially when I tell men this little tidbit. In my town where the bulk of the Real Estate is taken up by an entity that pays no property taxes (I’m a Realtor too so this is on my radar) we have something like six different places where beer is made on site and you can buy it. Be they “brew pubs” like the majority of them or “tap rooms,” the more traditional setting like mine, they all boast hand crafted malt beverages ranging in style from complex, fruit infused Belgian ales to accessible, Strohs-like lagers. Thanks to my company, which just opened its doors about ten days ago, Ann Arbor has the highest per-capita number of microbreweries of any city in the Great Lakes State. And that is saying something since Michigan is sixth in the nation in the number of microbreweries behind the craft powerhouses of California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
I’m living the dream of many I realize. But I can assure you that the long, late nights of serving beer then cleaning up, closing out and falling face first into the pillow only to have the alarm pound into my brain about five hours later is more like a nightmare. Not that I’m really complaining, merely making an observation about the nature of living an entrepreneurial life.
Writers are no different. Having had a small taste of success so far (“The Rookie,” my first release in a series is my small e-publisher’s Number One Best Sellers—which can be compared to being able to say you’re the Number One Best Selling Lager amongst breweries selling 150 barrels per year or less—oh, wait, never mind) I realize that the dog and pony show that one must create to go along with your already carefully crafted, edited, line edited and proofread publication is just as demanding as the writing itself. But it all must be done, lest you get lost in the clamoring frenzy that is the publishing world, especially now that we are all Writers of Blogs (myself included). The published work, in other words, is only one-third of the battle.
Craft brewers are notorious for not-so-subtle-sex-names...THIS is one of my FAVORITES from Sweet Water in Atlanta, GA
And especially in my ultra-crowded yet popular genre. So…back to that question: “Of what?”
I write stories about real people in the beer industry, including what I think are some of the more interesting careers in brewing, sales, and distribution. These people live real lives and have real (read: complicated) relationships with each other. Most of them are men, as the industry is dominated by Them—although we women are making strides. My main characters are the women who people said industry. My fictional creations fall in and out of love, lust and varying degrees of obsession with each other, mirroring how “real life” tends to magnify the chaos of natural human attraction. I write “erotic fiction” yes, but of the sort where the sex is not some random drop-in scene placed there in order to get you off so you can then throw the book (or e-reader in my case) down after the scene and pick up another, without ever being engaged in the story.
In reviews, it’s been said that my first work “The Rookie” has believable, interesting and funny (even snarky) characters that you find yourself “rooting for” so they “hook up.” I could not ask for a more gratifying description of what I’m trying to do. I want to tell stories that simply don’t “fade to black” when the fire is lit, so to speak and in which the people have to live their lives after zipping the zippers and buttoning the buttons back up, usually in close working contact with each other, which can really complicate things.
I’m also highly amused by those erotic reading rookies (no pun intended) who read, blush, glance up at me in an email or some similarly removed format and say things like “Well, somebody has an active fantasy life.” Or, my favorite, “Wow you really kiss and tell.” Please, people, if I had as much sex as I wrote about I would barely have time to eat or sell the beer I gotta sell. Do you accuse Janet Evanovich or Agatha Christie of being murderesses because they write about such things? Do you really think Stephen King has seen a dome come down over a small New England town? It’s called: “Imagination” and “fiction” arises from such. Some of us are just eager to get it out of our heads and out onto the page, erm, screen. Yes, we “write what we know” to a certain extent, using our real life experiences to set the stage or give the story some credibility. I have a long novel series about Realtors myself, whereby the naughtiest of them do take advantage of empty Open Houses or penthouse condo showings to have a little fun. But again, just setting the stage, making a story credible, and creating plausible real characters who, by the time they ARE hooking up, you give a shit about them enough to want more.
This is not to say I have not had my fair share of interesting encounters. But the way I’ve evolved in this particular genre is by observing how the natural chemical attraction between certain men and women, women and women and even some men and men plays out. I just take it to its next level in my head, then in written form, and will continue to plausibly deny any sort of Open House romps, shenanigans amongst the fermentation tanks or beer festival hot hook ups. Yeah, they don’t call me the Beer Wench for nothing!
Thanks for listening, reading, following, and drinking CRAFT beer as opposed to macro swill. Good luck to you all. It’s a jungle out here, but Tarzan is as hot as promised.
“XXXMas Ale” released 12/17/10
“Jockey Box” released 1/21/11
“The Tap Room” released March 2011