Screw Norman Mailer

Yesterday I wrote in this journal that “writers write,” profound words I live by.

By which I live?


Not really.

The sentiment is simple if you write. Either you do it or you don’t. Too many aspiring writers bullshit themselves and the world, talking a good game and posturing. Too many wannabe writers don’t write yet call themselves writers. They claim to have writer’s block when they just don’t have anything original to say.

Since corporate hacks at WILK News radio fired me when I was 65 in 2017 for winning all the arguments with Trump supporters and other ill-informed callers – the basic successful national news talk radio format in America, by the way – I quickly got down to writing full-time. Fortunately I didn’t have to ever again work for a boss and had more than enough money to meet my needs and enjoy myself.

I dug in as a full-time novelist.

Blood Red Syrah bled out like an open wound. Published by literary guru Lee Sebastiani and Avventura Press, the book hit readers in the brain stem with a difficult narrative – a story loaded with California wine country racism, sexism, animal cruelty, unabashed violence and psychedelic tribalism – complete with Mexican spirituality rich as fresh mole. Dark humor brought the mix together, bubbling to the surface like a cannibal’s stew boiling over an open fire.

The novel is a genre-bending adventure that tears away at comfortable sensitivity and puts readers behind the wheel of a stolen convertible tearing down the wrong lane of the 101 freeway. My characters push you around if you let them. Be brave. Take the wheel with courage. Learn from their personality disorders, apply the stark lessons to your own life and thrive on the chaos.

Nobody wants what happened to Paige Pennington to happen to them, though.

Nobody wants to be her.

We opened in Scranton with a downtown wine party at my first cousin’s kid Timmy’s law office (my lawyer for all you potential litigants) then did a barn-storming West Coast book tour. We had a good time. Like Hunter Thompson said, we bought the ticket. We took the ride.

Then I wrote another novel. Set in Wilkes-Barre, PA hard coal country, Paddy’s Day in Trump Town guts white male timidity that passes for macho power. I blame Irish guys for Trump’s success and election as president. I blame Irish guys for taking us back to the Stone Age. I still blame Irish guys for forgetting the clear-headed perseverance real Irish guys and women are made of.

Then Covid hit.

Stephanie and I hunkered down.

I wrote Scranton Lives Matter and Swan Dive, two free internet novels published on my website.

That’s the web page Doug Griffiths and his Posture Interactive crew created for me. Doug’s my high-tech witch doctor shaking his bag of magic seeds I plant, nurture and grow online. Doug did a website for Blood Red Syrah, too.

But the column bug kept biting. You don’t fight your way into the newspaper business, fight to stay there and stand firm on principle when dull bosses try to change the way you think. You don’t give up the crusade that easily. Not if you’ve got something to say, you don’t. I always have something to say that’s worth hearing.

That’s why I once walked out of a Norman Mailer lecture at Wilkes University when I didn’t like the answer to my question coming from a literary god who stabbed his wife.

Screw Norman Mailer.

So I wrote more columns and essays and short stories, too. For a year I also wrote a monthly column called “Greetings From Scranton” (sometimes two a month) for a lazy publication called Gonzo Today. Now I’m writing for a unique publication called CovertAction Magazine that takes on the CIA, capitalism and an unjust world. I also recently started an online journal with entries like this one whenever I feel like writing one. I’m playing with a collection of short stories, as well. I have about 100, including Hot Dog Soup, the title tale. And, drum roll here, I’m 145 pages into the sequel to Blood Red Syrah.

Weed Wine Magic will smoke your head and enlighten your consciousness.

Weed Wine Magic will get you high.

Weed Wine Magic will take you tripping through the California Central Coast loaded on cannabis-infused wine that offers drinkers and readers the meaning of existence. Lovable serial killer and Blood Red Syrah hero Wally Wilson makes a cameo appearance. Syrah plays a more major role as the former demonic voice in Wally’s head that comes to live rent free in your head once you start reading.

You didn’t know you have a voice in your head? Listen closely when you try to fall asleep tonight. You’ll sense a voice. It might be Syrah. If so, you’re in for an experience.

Are you experienced?

Have you ever been experienced?

Well, I have