Bury the Hatchet

When Jay Desmarteaux walked out the gates of Rahway Prison, the sun hit his face like air on a fresh wound. The breeze smelled different, charged somehow. He had spent twenty-five years as a monk locked inside a dank Shaolin temple dedicated to violence and human predation, while the men who put him there lived free from fear.

Men who needed killing.

For the rest, you’ll have to wait until I find an agent and a publisher.

Onto the next novel, a boozy caper about craft beer, decrepit old bars, Bon Scott’s secret lyric notebook, Nazis, cat farts, and hipster invasions.


Bury *this* Hatchet

Bury *this* Hatchet

When I mention Bury the Hatchet- my work in progress- this is the hatchet I’m talking about. Peter Lagana made these in the ’60s and hoped to get the military to make them standard issue, and they were tested with Green Berets and other units. He sold 4000 to soldiers overseas and deploying to Vietnam, as a multi-use fighting weapon, utility hatchet, and entrenchment tool.

Let the editing begin…

Let’s get physical: red pen vs. 534 pages.

I gave myself a month off to write three stories I owed, and to let the flavors meld in the gumbo. I’m back in gear and the red pen is out, so I will be blogging less often this month while I edit and rewrite. It’s time.

When I swim, and I’m underwater in the blessed silence, the story invades my head. Telling me what it needs. I’ll be busy listening to it. I have a few more obligations to take care of in the coming months. I’m giving myself until October to finish this, which is more than enough time.

I think editing on paper is the way to go. I have a decent track record for copy editing, but when the laptop is closed, there are fewer distractions. This is also much longer than it needs to be, I’ll be distilling the past into brief passages. This fight will go a full ten rounds, but I don’t want a lot of clinching in the 7th. Keeping gas in the tank is the biggest obstacle I’ve found in novels, and I want to keep the punches landing.

This draft is much different than the “zero draft” I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. A different lead. A different tone. The good thing is that the fun stuff from the first version fits very well into a new project that I will begin as soon as this one’s done, about an Iraq vet and the spoiled son of a cop who inherit a bar that becomes infested with hipsters… and of course, one winds up dead. Ironically, of course. More on that later.

For now, this book is all that matters.

Car Culture

Cars are part of the American DNA. Other countries have car culture, but the closest to America’s suicidal romance with hot rods is Australia, home of Mad Max. The open space helps. In Britain, they can tell your caste by your accent. In America, it’s often by your car. And if you ride the bus, you’re at the bottom of the pole. In suburban New Jersey ‘riding the bus’ is racial code for poor and black.

I saw this old Charger for sale on the way to work today. The body is in good shape, it has the floor shift, but unless the badges were lost, it’s a six-banger or a 318 V8. It got me thinking about how cars are the face we wear. Some dream of cars they could never afford to own, others just want to get from point A to point B. For the latter, these rules don’t apply. But in America, land where advertising controls the language, everything means something. In the novel in progress, Tony “Baloney” Giambotta is the friend of our protagonist. He went to school for computer science, but became a mechanic when his father died, to honor his blue collar roots, in self-destructive fashion. Let me get inside his head and give you…

The car castes of New Jersey.

You drive a beater, we know all about you. You either can’t afford better or you just don’t care. Either way, we judge you.

If it’s a minivan or a wagon, you’re a hard-working parent with too many kids, and we get out of your way. You’re either distracted by them if you’re mom, or pissed off that you’re stuck with a minivan, if you’re Dad.

A hopped up old Civic, lowered to asphalt-scraping depths, a coffee can for a muffler and the tires spaced out wide for tight turns? Odds are you’re Hispanic, and you want to race to the next light.

Old BMW, in nice shape with a sweet set of rims? You’re a young black man with a good job. You’ve got the good tunes cranked up, you’re cruising the limit because the cops pull you over for breathing the wrong way.

A used SUV with a red Rutgers ‘R’ sticker on the back? You’re a college girl driving mom’s old car so you don’t die after you crush some poor working family in their beater, while texting.

A new SUV with a Montclair State sticker, and you’re the mom worrying about your daughter in your old SUV. You are yelling at her on your phone, telling her not to text and drive.

If you drive a new BMW, Audi or Acura, you’re a single male, probably white, with more money than brains, driving too fast for your skillset. You are most likely listening to Disturbed or some angry band that makes you think Fight Club wasn’t a satire about how stupid you are.

Prius. Okay, we get it. You saved the planet. We’re not worthy.

Mustang, 350Z or Camaro, your Dad is working class and spoils the shit out of you. You think you deserve it. You wish you could put the pedal down for more than 2 seconds in this tiny, congested state, and you like watching people flinch at your exhaust note. A Challenger, and same thing but you’re over 50 now and had to buy it yourself.

Escalade, Infiniti or a Lexus, and you’re trying to be an extra on Jersey Shore, if you get your tan just right. Sure, Dad co-signed the lease, but you’re money. You get in the clubs, don’t you? Why don’t these drivers get out of your way, don’t they know who you are?

Buick or a Cadillac and we pass you, because you’re too old and driving too slow.

A late-model Nissan, Toyota or Honda sedan, or a Ford Escape and you’re just trying to get to work alive.

A Subaru, you have children. You can’t afford a Volvo. You think 3 days of bad snow a year is worth investing in all-wheel drive, because you worry about everything. Also, you are considering a colon cleanse.

A pickup truck, and you run a landscaping business and like Toby Keith.

A Chevy or a Charger, and you’re a cop.

A Corvette or a Porsche, and we all know the penis pump didn’t work.

New Mercedes or Jaguar, and you’re a boomer or just shy of it, and think you did enough for the Earth, and now it’s time to do something for you. You’re talking on the bluetooth that your son set up for you, and why don’t these other cars realize you’re in a hurry, and get out of your way. The nerve of some people.

Ferrari, you work down the port for your uncle. You look at porn all day and are paid $400,000 a year for it.

Bentley. You’re not a rapper, and you can’t name any rappers, either.

Chrysler 300. You can’t afford a Bentley or a Cadillac.

Rolls Royce. You are former Newark Mayor Sharpe James. You are in jail.

And if you drive a Mini Cooper S, you’re a snarky crime writer who just commuted through all that. You think you look like the Italian Job, but look more like ‘clown car.’

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Reviews and Interviews and Upcoming pubs

Death by Killing gave Lost Children: A Charity Anthology to Benefit PROTECT and Children 1st a rave review. Chris Rhatigan runs a crime fiction blog but loved stories by crime fiction vets and literary authors equally. He chose stories by Benoit Lelievre, J.F. Juzwik, Lynn Beighley and Roberto C. Garcia as favorites and said “The collection itself lives up to its cover–these are powerful, often shocking, stories.”
Read the review here:
Death by Killing

Buy the book in all e-book formats, or trade paperback, here:
Lost Children: A Charity Anthology to Benefit PROTECT and Children 1st

It is still 99 cents on Amazon due to their price-matching. Get it while you can!

Fiona McVie interviewed me at The Inspiration Forum – thanks to Les Edgerton for suggesting me to her. If you head over there, you’ll get to read the opening of my novel BURY THE HATCHET.

I will be interviewed by Richard Godwin at Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse next week, and I’ll share that as well. Amazingly enough, in the three interviews with me this month, we don’t cover the same material.

And here are the upcoming publications you can look for this year:

“Raker: A Review,” in Blood and Tacos
“Firecracker,” in Hardboiled Magazine (available from Gryphon Books)
“Gumbo Weather,” starring Jay Corso, in Needle: A Magazine of Noir Spring 2012 (Jay is the lead cause of mayhem in my novel Bury the Hatchet)
“Lefty,” in Crimefactory Magazine #10
“White People Problems,” in All Due Respect April 2012
“Play Dead,” in Yellow Mama, April 2012
“We’re All Guys Here,” in Dollar Dreadfuls: Dirty Noir Quarterly
“Tiger Mother,” in Noir Nation #2
“Donkey Dick,” in Big Pulp March 2013
“Six Feet Under God,” in Grift Magazine Quarterly

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Bury the Hatchet

I’m going to buckle down and begin the brutal revision of my first draft- essentially a rewrite- this weekend. I’ve been writing stories to put it off, tossing ideas in my mind. The structure of past and present is giving me trouble, but I know both stories are ready, so I will do them as I go, and re-order things later to make them line up. One storyline deals with kids in the ’80s dealing with a violent bully. The present deals with the kid who went to jail for his murder getting out, and going after the people who coerced him into taking the fall.
I took advice from my friend Josh Stallings and put together a soundtrack to listen to. These songs are all pretty generic. Not the deep tracks I used to put on my cooler of mix tapes that sat in the back of the Mustang. But they evoke the era and the feeling I want to convey, of a man who’s been in prison since he was fourteen years old getting out. He’s not a caveman puzzled by technology, but he has a soul that died 25 years ago, and the soundtrack in his heart ain’t gonna be Death Cab for Cutie… when he decides to settle a twenty five year old grudge and bury the hatchet.

Back in Black” – AC/DC
Electric Avenue” – Eddy Grant
Don’t Change” – INXS
Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top
Centerfold” – J.Geils Band
Born on the Bayou” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – Rolling Stones
Queen of Hearts” – Juice Newton
Excitable Boy” – Warren Zevon
Through Being Cool” – Devo
Behind Blue Eyes” – The Who
Jump” – Van Halen
Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Devil Inside” – INXS
Rebel Yell” – Billy Idol
Hair of the Dog” – Nazareth
In Between Days” – The Cure
Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns ‘N Roses
Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You)” – A Flock of Seagulls
You May Be Right” – Billy Joel
The Midnight Special” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Our Lips Are Sealed” – The Go-Gos
Movin’ Out” – Billy Joel
Blitzkrieg Bop” – Ramones
Ramble On” – Led Zeppelin … this one is put to The Hobbit animated film, pretty amusing.
State Trooper” – Bruce Springsteen
Big Shot” – Billy Joel
Problem Child” – AC/DC
Breaking the Law” – Judas Priest
The Indifference of Heaven” – Warren Zevon
Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi (I fucking hate Bon Jovi, but there is a scene at a reunion where a song of theirs would be played, and this is the only one I can tolerate)
Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
(What’s So Funny About) Peace Love & Understanding” – Elvis Costello because I am an ironic plucker.
Dreaming” – Blondie
Ace of Spades” – Motorhead (great video set to Bullitt chase)

© 2011 Thomas Pluck