Category Archives: Junkie Love

New Year

2017 sucked. I know it was rough for a lot of people. I’m not sure if it’s because I am getting older and have entered the hell and a hand basket stage, waving angry fist at cloud, but I can honestly say last year ranks among the very worst of my life. And, yes, that includes the homeless junkie years.

As you may know I lost my brother, Josh, in November. Most sibling relationships are complicated, but Josh and I had a shared history of addiction, which only further complicates. It’s not as simple as one of us was the fuck up, the other the overachiever. We each played both roles, at various times. The end was particularly hard. By then I’d given up the ghost, was married with kids, living on the West Coast. The writing had taken off, books doing well; and my brother was 3,000 miles away in his own tormented hell. There was a time where Josh and I were as close as two brothers get. The last several years saw more distance, as I moved further and further from certain behaviors, movement that my brother, for whatever reasons, couldn’t emulate. And it sucks because when you lose someone, especially under those conditions, where the person, essentially, let their own demons consume them, you’re going to ask what you could’ve done. I’ve been asking that question for the better part of fifteen years. I’ve just changed tenses.

If you’ve read the Jay Porter books, you know where the story of two brothers, one an addict, the other besieged by guilt and regret, finds its inspiration. I am not Jay Porter, even if Jay Porter is me. If that makes sense.

Junkie Love is coming out next year in a 2nd edition, with new Foreword by one of my literary heroes, Jerry Stahl, and a new Afterword by me. The Afterword, which I wrote shortly after Josh’s passing, might be the best thing I’ve written in fifteen years. Even as it came from one of the worst times of my life. That’s art, right? Nothing ever going wrong does not for great writing make. But I’d give back every book, and just about everything else in my life too, save my two boys and family, to have my brother and mother back (they can keep my father).

I don’t want to talk too much about that Afterword–you’ll get to read it soon enough–but one of the lines in there talks about how the Porter books have long been the conversations I wanted to have with my brother but couldn’t. I don’t think Josh ever read any of my books after Junkie Love. I know it must’ve been hard, that thin line between truth and fiction.

Since November, I’ve sorta checked out. Going on social media got to be too painful. And since I spend a lot of my life in the virtual realm, I feel like I’ve been isolating and anti-social. I’m that way in the physical world too (never been much of a people person), but I’m usually online, on Facebook or whatever, to interact. A lot of people reached out after Josh died, and the outpouring was touching and deeply appreciated. But I could also not go on social media and not be reminded. And some days I didn’t want to be reminded. Some days I just wanted to play with my boys or watch football or go golfing. Even if as I did those things I was never fully able to escape the reality that my little brother was gone, and no matter how much longer I lived, another 50 years, I wouldn’t get to see him again.

With 2018 almost here, I’ve … resolved … to get back out there. Like a single mom dating again or something. I have some good news with my books, and I’ll share that soon, and I’ll need to do my part to promote. I know the year turning over isn’t some magic reset button; it’s an arbitrary marker. Still I am anxious to see what this New Year brings. I don’t want to say it can’t get much worse because I know it always can, which makes me more appreciative and grateful for the people in my life, my family, friends, fans, folks who took the time out to check in on me these past couple months. Thank you. I expect you’ll be seeing more of me (that’s not a threat). (If only in an electronic version. I still don’t like to wear pants.)

Where I Am Right Now / Jay Porter

It’s been a weird year. And by “weird,” I mean … just fucking awful. I don’t want to rehash all the personal losses and professional setbacks, and this isn’t to bitch and moan about lousy hands–life deals from the bottom of the deck, same way to everyone–but those who know me know what I am talking about, and those of you who don’t, let’s just leave it at: I’ll be glad to see 2017 end. Hyperbole aside, this year has ranked among the worst of my life, every bit as the worst of the junkie years, and keep in mind that particular period saw me eating food off the ground and shooting up mouse shit.

So what does 2018 hold? I won’t say it can’t get worse because if there is one thing we all know about this place: it can always get worse. And herein lies the rub of writing Jay Porter.

I’m sure most of you know who Jay Porter is. Those who don’t: Jay Porter is the protagonist of the … Jay Porter Thriller Series that I write for Oceanview Publishing. The books have done well for me, selling enough to land a 5-book deal. I owe that to my former agent Liz Kracht, who did a tremendous job getting my work out there. But last summer I decided it was time for a change, and I parted ways with the Cameron Agency. This wasn’t for any other reason than I felt I needed to shake things up, and I couldn’t fire myself, even if that would’ve been my first choice. I’d come to the end of Jay’s story. I mean, I came to the end of the arc, in my head, which was still two and a half years out. I am currently writing Book 5, RAG AND BONE, a draft of which is almost complete. (It will be released in June 2019). I feel the need to do something … bigger … next. Though I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what the fuck that means. I have something inside of me to say, like all writers, and I’ll have to pick the best vessel. And this is why Tobias Wolf’s “Bullet in the Brain” hurts so much, that never-ending hall of self-reflecting mirrors when you vivisect the living word for a living.

Right now, though, I am in full Jay Porter mode. And if you haven’t read the Porter books, I’ll leave it as Jay’s skin is not the most comfortable to wear. The rub, of course, is that I am Jay. Even if Jay is not me. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I hope you’ll forgive any roundabout syntax. I’ve written almost 40K words in 7 days. Which may not seem that crazy. But I promise you, when you are writing a mystery, plotting this and that, the process sorta turns your brain to mush. Spending time in my head right now feels like traipsing through a sea of Velvetta.

Jay is also a miserable bastard. Maybe that’s not true. Maybe that is just because so many people have told me how miserable he is that I’ve come to accept it. Except that I am Jay, and I don’t think of myself as miserable. More … unsatisfied. If I had to pick one word to describe how I feel, how Jay feels that would be it. Unsatisfied. Probably why I love Paul Westerberg so fucking much.

It’s a tough line to walk, this feeling of being unsatisfied, because conversely, at the same time, I can feel tremendously lucky and a shit-ton on joy and, on occasion, even hope. I have my boys, my wife, my house, my 8-lbs. poodle Lucky. And yet …

I’m not quite sure where Jay ends and I begin, or if it’s the other way around. I’ve spent the last 7 days writing the story of man who serves as a harbinger, a portent, a worse-case scenario, the potential for how bad my life could get. Jay Porter predicts my future. Jay hurts his leg, I hurt my leg. Jay’s brother dies, my brother dies. Jay loses everything he loves, and I … realize it’s just a book. Right?

I resurrected this blog. Though I am not sure what function it is supposed to serve. The first time I had a blog, there was a purpose: to eliminate the disconnect between my person and my (writing) voice. To that end, it was wildly successful. But now? Not sure if I want to use it to get another agent, sell books, get a book deal, communicate with strangers, or just … write. Just write for the pure, unadulterated love of language, as corny as that sounds. I fucking love writing and I fucking love words.

That last one is disconcerting because you can end up with this, what is tantamount to a journal/diary entry. Then again On the Road was essentially one long rambling diary entry. Of course I am not Jack Kerouac, even if I named my second son after him. Maybe I just write and someone will read something they need to read. Yeah, we’ll go with that.