Bad Monkey is more of a true caper than most of the other
novels. I don't usually write "who-done-its" "“ in my books, you usually know
who did it by page 52. But this time I was in the mood to do a funny mystery.
It's also the first time I've used a monkey as a major character. Not exactly a
literary milestone, but I had a blast with that little guy.
the first line and what does it say about the book?
July, trolling in dead-calm waters near Key West, a tourist named James
Mayberry reeled up a human arm.
That sentence sets the scene pretty well "“ just another
sunny, summer day in paradise. The severed arm is the centerpiece of the plot,
and it does some traveling.
There are a couple of different places where I write, but
the desks are always arranged so that I'm facing a wall. I can't write with a
view or I'll get distracted. If it's too nice a day, I'll just bag the book and
go fishing, so I prefer a blank wall over a bay window.
I've been writing on computers for almost forty years. The
first newspaper I worked for was one of the first to install computer writing
stations in the newsroom. That was in 1974.
I learned to write on a typewriter when I was very young and I can still
do it, but a computer makes it a thousand times easier to self-edit and polish
your work. I have a PC with a basic Word program, nothing special.
I can't listen to music and write at the same time. I do
wear headphones, but to block out all noise. One pair is made by Winchester and
another is made by Ruger. They are shooter's ear muffs, designed to muffle the
sound of gunfire. It's a handy piece of equipment if you live in Florida.
Unfortunately, I never learned to drink coffee. Caffeine
helps me get rolling in the morning so it's usually a Snapple or a Coke when I
sit down to write. The sugar jolt doesn't hurt, either. Coffee would be much healthier
but I can't drink a hot steaming cup of anything when it's 90 freaking degrees
Like many novelists, I don't read much fiction while I'm
working on a book of my own. It would just confuse the inner narrative voice inside
my head. Reading another writer's work, especially a good writer's, can definitely
affect your style if you're not careful. I love scoping out novels, especially
satirical ones, but I save them up and read them between my own projects.
Martin Amis' latest, Lionel Asb State
of England, was terrific.
You know what successful writers do? They get up, park their
butts in a chair and write. Some days you feel like it, some days you don't. Novelists
who spend too much time searching for inspiration generally end up broke, and
broken. For a satirist, the writing energy flows from outrage or disgust, a
grand sense of folly. Heck, all you've got do is read the newspaper every
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