Book release party!

I held a book release shindig on Saturday June 28th at Bucket O' Blood Books & Records, a really cool indy bookstore here in Chicago, with a small but enthusiastic group of supporters in attendance, mostly punks and weirdos like myself.

For openers, Douglas Ward and Al Scorch did an acoustic performance featuring songs about leaving home, driving trucks, and beautiful waitresses--which if you've read Star Reacher, you'll know why those particular subjects were chosen. 


Fellow SF writer Marc Ruvolo (and Bucket O' Blood founder) then gave me an introductory "roast" :) 

I followed that with a short spiel about punk, writing, creativity, and all that good stuff--and then an excerpt from Star Reacher.


The following is a polished-up version of my book release spiel:

I suppose there are some writers out there who worry about what their story's themes are. My feeling is, why worry? Themes creep into stories under their own power. It can be hard to define what a theme is; it's not what the story is "about", it's more like the lens you see it through. I like to think of a theme being a part of you that reveals itself as the words leave your fingertips. 

In the case of "Star Reacher", one of the parts revealed was the punk part of me--unintentionally, though it seems kind of obvious to me now, since I came out of the punk/underground/DIY scene. That subculture has been a huge part of my life since I was a teenager (which, just to date the hell out of myself, was before the world-wide web or social media or any of that new-fangled tech).

What does punk/underground/DIY have to do with writing science fiction? Nothing--and everything.

As kids, we're allowed--or even encouraged, if we were lucky--to use our imaginations and to make things for the sake of making them. "Kids need to be creative", right? By the time we get to be adults, it's a different story. Most of us get hit over the head with the Big Lie: Art, music, writing, making and creating things out of imagination, aren't real important for us regular folks. Unless we aim to make our living at it--which is the only permissible goal--making art is a waste of time. Creative pursuits are the province of the Talented Few, and the role of the rest of us is to consume and be entertained by the output of the Talented Few.

Which is, y'know, horseshit. I know it, you know it, a lot of people know it. But you know what blows my mind? How many people don't know it. Many times I've taken for granted, or just plain forgotten this. And then I'll hear someone say something like, "I wish I could paint--but I have no talent". "I wish I could write, but I'm not any good." "I wish I could sing, but I don't have a nice voice." And I'll know that the Big Lie is alive and well.

You don't hear many comments like that in the punk scene. People are too busy making things, doing things, and creating things to worry about whether they inherited enough Talent DNA to be allowed to do so. Being in the company of that kind of people has had a profound impact on me and I'm very grateful for it.

Sure, I knew since I was a kid that I liked drawing pictures and writing stories and singing songs, that it was fun and it was something I wanted to do--but it was punk/underground/DIY that taught me that it was MINE, that creative expression belongs to all of us. Not just the Talented Few, but us corndogs too. We deliver pizzas, we paint houses, we fix the network when it's down... and when it's time to make the art, we go at it like it's our absolute right to do so. Because it is.

Go here to read the excerpt.