Sometimes you have to really switch things up. Even shake them up. Such is the case with artists of all types, and I’m the kind of novelist who needs to shake things up from book to book. I’ve never written a series, and I don’t think I could unless my life depended on it.
If my last novel, Whizzers, was like a warm hug, my current WIP, Jihad Insurance, is more like a punch in the face. But I don’t want to hurt my readers, so let’s think of it another way.
Imagine you’re walking through a forest. In Whizzers, I walk beside you and point out all the beautiful sights and sounds—the sky and clouds, wind whispering through the trees, birds and butterflies.
Conversely, in my new book, I lift up rocks and show you what you always knew was there but maybe didn’t want to see: hideous centipedes, maggot-like worms, unidentifiable creepy-crawly insects. Maybe there’s a snake somewhere waiting to strike; maybe even an alligator. I still live in Florida, after all.
My Version of a Trigger Warning
Beyond a few short quotes on Instagram, I always hesitate to post much from a Work-in-Progress. When Whizzers was still a WIP, I didn’t even feel comfortable talking about it, much less sharing a bunch of unpublished sections. But in the interest of the greater good, I plan to post a few of these here and there over the course of the next year-plus while I work on the novel.
A couple of caveats: Jihad Insurance is truly not for the faint of heart. If you’re familiar with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, that should give you at least some idea of the, uh, scatalogical nature of the book.
Except that my new novel is much harsher. While Fear and Loathing featured some periodic profane or drugged-out scenes, much of Jihad Insurance is about porn—not food porn or word porn, but actual porn porn. And because the director of said porn, protagonist J. Edgar Schnatz, is one rude dude to begin with, much of the novel explores him gleefully celebrating the genre, not to mention ranting about all manner of unpleasant topics.
I should also emphasize that, like its predecessor—another novel about making a porno, Terry Southern’s Blue Movie—this book is intended to be funny. Yes, I’ve laughed myself silly already while writing sections of it, and I hope many readers will do the same. But I know it’s definitely not for everyone.
Consequently, I’ve written a draft of a parodic “trigger warning” as a preface to the book, warning pretty much every sensitive type of person out there that this novel is probably not for them. Or if they plan to dive in, take a deep breath first. Again, not for the faint of heart.
Here We Go
And with that, here’s part of a scene I think will be characteristic of the novel as a whole. This comes from the first chapter, so one day potential readers on Amazon will be able to click Look Inside for their first glimpse of the inimitable J. Edgar Schnatz and Philip Tattaglia, his assistant.
Philip breathed a silent sigh as J. Edgar tapped his fingers on the passenger door of the Audi S8 and glanced out the window at a pedestrian in a tie-dye with greasy dreadlocks.
“Look at this crunchy granola motherfucker,” he said to his assistant. “Should I let him wash the windshield? What do you think?” He laughed, a short, hollow bark that turned into a cough.
“Want to drive? I can pull in over here if you want to switch.”
“Nah, fuck it. I’m good. Seriously, though, look at this frog-faced fuck. How many white guys do you see with dreadlocks these days? He’s got some balls, I’ll give him that.” J. Edgar glared through the windshield at the endless line of traffic on the 405.
So that’s it, a tiny sample of the sharp-tongued J. Edgar and the long-suffering Philip. By the book’s own standard, this snippet is pretty mild—so buckle up, friend!