Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Authors, Alcohol & Accolades: Volume 4

"An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do."
--Dylan Thomas

I am back with another volume in my new series, Authors, Alcohol & Accolades. Volume 1Volume 2 and Volume 3 each showcased four of my favorite authors, and I have returned to highlight four more, and to delve into their drinks of choice.  I have found this to provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of the writers I enjoy, and hope you like the interviews as well. You can look forward to further volumes in this series too, and any authors who are interested in participating in future volumes can contact me.

Robert Swartwood (Twitter: @RobertSwartwood)
I first encountered the work of Robert Swartwood through The Dishonored Dead, a zombie tale where the "zombies" are actually the living, and the risen dead control the world. It is a more unique and fascinating tale, and its originality should appeal to even the most jaded zombie reader. I followed up by then reading his novels Man of Wax (the first in a trilogy) and The Serial Killer's Wife. Rather than horror, these are both thrillers and have similar beginnings where the protagonists receive mysterious phone calls that initiate perilous endeavors. Man of Wax was an exciting thrill ride, with lots of twists and turns, and I am eager for the sequels. The Serial Killer's Wife was a different ride, but also interesting and intriguing.

"I'm mostly a beer guy -- Coors Light or Blue Moon, whichever is on tap -- but sometimes I'm in the mood for something different and find myself with a rum and Coke -- Captain Morgan, to be more specific, though every once in a while I like mixing some coconut Parrot Bay into the mix instead, which makes it go down all that much smoother."

Jake Bible (Twitter: @JakeBible)
Jake has a bizarre, twisted, irreverent and warped imagination and I love it. Bethany And The Zombie Jesus is a collection of horror stories, some subtle while others more in-your-face, gory and grotesque. The lead novelette, Bethany & the Zombie Jesus, is an irreverent and fascinating romp, while the short tale Blister, which is not for the squeamish, is a delightfully twisted tale as is All The Freaky Bedbugs Of The World. Jake has also written The Man With No Face, the start of a series of horror westerns. It is a blend of Jonah Hex and Clint Eastwood, a revenge tale of a man whose very skin was torn from his body. This is not a tale for the squeamish and the series has much potential. As this is more of an origin story, the plot is relatively straight forward and I hope that subsequent books have more depth.

"I grew up in Eugene, OR. Doesn't take a detective to know what drink I gravitated towards and have stuck with since. Beer. Especially, and almost exclusively, microbrew/craft beer. When I left Eugene in 1997 it had nine microbreweries/brew pubs. I have no idea how many it has today. I went through a bit of a drought when I lived in Florida. Not craft beer friendly, that state. But, now I live in Asheville, NC! BEER CITY USA! Yep, it has been voted Beer City USA three years running and for good reason. This area has eleven craft breweries and is still growing.

"What style do I like most, you ask? Dark. Very, very dark. I am a fan of stouts and porters, the thicker the better. I like to stick a spoon in my beer and have it stand straight up. For me, beer is part of a meal. I make sure to leave room in the ole belly to finish a good pint. Think of it as portion control. That's how I think of it and I'm sticking to that! Do I have a favorite? Nah, there are too many good beers to list. But, I can say that the thin, Irish style stouts are my least favorite. If they are gonna be thin then they better pack some serious flavor into each sip. Guinness doesn't work for me. I don't hate it, but I'll skip it and go for a lighter craft beer if one is available. In fact, if I don't see a beer on a menu I like then I go without. I'll order sweet tea instead (sweet tea is a southern thing and delicious). I'm picky that way! I wouldn't say I'm a beer snob. I certainly don't look down on anyone for what they drink. But I am selective in what I choose to drink. Life's too short and I'm not gonna waste my time on Earth drinking something that doesn't make me perfectly happy."

And now for a nonalcoholic supplement, as not all writers enjoy alcohol...

Luke Romyn (Twitter: @LukeRomyn)
Luke's first book was The Dark Path, a supernatural thriller, that is a non-stop adrenalin rush pitting an amoral killer against dread forces of evil. It is a well written tale with plenty of action, horror and psychological suspense. His second novel, Blacklisted, lacks any supernatural elements and is an exciting action-thriller, with plenty of well crafted combat scenes and plot twists. The writing is tight, pacing is good, and the main character is appealing, despite his violent past. As both books are available on Kindle for 99 cents each, they are excellent values and strongly recommended.

"Coffee, the ground-bean, liquid-elixir, has recently become my favorite non-alcoholic beverage. Its unique flavor is like imbibing a smile, readying me for whatever is to come. This is closely followed by Coca-Cola; though only in small doses – its sugar-laden, narcotic-like properties must always be avoided in large quantities to avoid getting sick. Perhaps I should have stuck to bourbon. Alas. And finally, I love a tall glass of ice tea – the drink, not the rapper (and yes, I know it’s technically iced tea, but that would never have worked for my reference). At the end of a hard day, nothing relaxes me more than sitting in a comfortable chair with my glass of iced tea, letting the troubles of my many lives slip away as I stare at a TV screen and pretend to be normal."

Howard Jones (Twitter: @HowardAndrewJon)
Much fantasy has a European feel to it so I am always eager to check out any fantasy based on a different culture. Thus, I was drawn to Howard's The Desert of Souls and The Waters of Eternity. Desert of Souls is a fantasy novel with an Arabic bent, taking place in a magical version of 8th century Baghdad. It follows the thrilling adventures of Asim, a warrior, and Dabir, a scholar (though he seems more like a detective), as they try to prevent a mystical calamity from befalling Baghdad. This riveting and well written tale is complemented with plenty of humor, action, magic and suspense. Plus, can you say undead monkeys? The Waters of Eternity is a follow-up, a collection of short stories involving Asim and Dabir, and the tales are worthy successors. The next Asim and Dabir novel, The Bones of the Old Ones, is due out in August and I wish it were out much sooner. Both of Howard's books are highly recommended.

"Once I discovered that I didn't hold my liquor better than any other men in the family, I've pretty much steered clear except for wedding toasts and an occasional cheap, sweet glass of wine with dinner. My favorite go-to drink is a Coke, either from bottle or fountain, mixed with cherry syrup or grenadine. I find them much tastier than the actual canned Cherry Coke. I'm also a sucker for Dole's Orange Peach Mango Juice, which my son and I drink by the cart load. Whenever I find myself in a new area of the country I try out regional root beers. Sadly, as I've gotten older, these smaller soda manufacturers have been harder to come by. IBC's probably my current favorite. I've come to prefer the brands of root beer, and even sasparilla, that are made from natural ingredients. It's not that I'm concerned about the artificial components, I just prefer the stronger, original flavors. Modern root beers tend to smooth things out with a whole lot of sugar."

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