A wonderful friend of mine who is an avid reader (I wouldn’t know what to do with anyone who wasn’t) and is quite brilliant (yes, I use my friends to make me look better, basking in their brilliance) started quizzing me the other day about ideas. No, he didn’t want to know where I got them–he has quite enough of his own, trust me. He wanted to know what I do with them when I get them.
Good question–one that sort of baffled me. After delving deeper, I realized what he really wanted to know was how do I get into a story. Is it theme first, plot, character? What?
For me it’s usually starts with something I want to know, or a place that I find intriguing and want to know more about. And if I write about it? Well, that’s just a very clever way to get Uncle Sam to pick up a potion of the tab.
So, Lucky started with Vegas–and endlessly amusing and interesting town. A place where naked folks asleep in stairwells, porn stars, male strippers, magicians, showgirls, washed-up fighters, entertainers clinging to careers long past peak, misbehaving sports figures, and vacuous Hollywood celebrities willing to help them are the stuff of everyday life. What’s not to like?
And this next series I’m getting of the ground? Well, it all started with copious amounts of fabulous wine…and a guy I dated who knows a lot about the fermented juice of the noble grape.
A dangerous combination, but, hey, when my craft demands such sacrifices who am I to resist?
To be honest, this wine thing sort of snuck up on me. Bourbon has always been my vice of choice, so the finer nuances of wine sort of eluded me–so did a lot of other nuances, but this probably isn’t the place to air my dirty laundry:). To be honest, there isn’t much subtle about a jolt of stiff whiskey. And, being from Texas, subtle isn’t exactly something we appreciate.
So, in waltzes Mr. California and his wine sensibilities. Early on he opened a bottle of fine “oaky and buttery” Chardonnay in the California style. I had no idea what he was talking about. Pushing a glass delicately my direction he nodded for me to take a sip. “What do you think?”
I tried to be oh so cool, keeping my expression blank while I cast wildly around for a proper place to spit the vile substance out. The kitchen sink worked great.
My friend looked at me blandly and said, “Not to your liking?”
“That stuff tastes like twice-chewed bubble gum.” I shrugged, as I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “Sorry. I’ve never been a Chardonnay drinker.”
“Well,” he said as he rubbed his hands together. “Let’s see what you will drink.”
I watched as he pulled bottle after bottle from his collection, lining them up on the counter, and thought as opening lines went, his was pretty good.
We sampled all sorts of wines, some varietals I’d heard of, others I hadn’t, and a serious wine fanatic was born. You know, there really is a difference between the complex, tannic masterpieces or the acidic, fresh, fruity delicacies and the cheap swill I’d been drinking. In the past, when I would read a wine critic’s opinion of a wine using such descriptive terms as fruit-forward, elegant mid-palate, with a long finish heavy with hints of leather and bacon and forest floor, my immediate reaction was: wine snob, but I’m getting used to the pomposity of the vernacular. However, to be honest, I still do have to stifle a twitter when someone holds a glass of wine up to the light as if it’s an offering to God and then expounds on its virtues using the most ridiculous adjectives….but, then again, I never said I had a whole lot of class. And refinement is a stretch for this Texas gal.
But, I’m learning. And it has come as a great surprise that my taster isn’t as dumb as I thought it was. Even though my oenological education is in its infancy, I can tell you there are very distinct differences between the Boone’s Farm of my past and say, Opus One (the glass at the right) or a very expensive bottle of Screaming Eagle (which I will gladly taste if anyone is offering.)
I still don’t like Chardonnay, but I’ll drink it if it has never touched an oak barrel in the aging process. However, my tastes run toward a truly acidic Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre. When I’m wanting something smoother perhaps a nice Viognier or even a Marsanne. Yes, these are all whites, but summer is just ending and white wine just goes with summer. Winter is sure to bring a whole new aspect to my education.
I’m already salivating….
So, the new novel, CRUSHED, is forming as we speak. I’m sipping a very, very nice spot of American bubbles (Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc) and delighting in the story. What a ripe world for a story!
But first, I need to do more research…..
So, how much of what you want to know do you build into your stories. And how much do your relish learning something new or being taken into a new world when you read?