Sunday, October 19, 2014
The Poster Child for Persistence: Meet Jack Getze!
***The winners of Jack Getze's giveaway Joan Emerson, Barb Goffman, and Kaye Barley***
LUCY BURDETTE: If anyone thinks getting a book published is a cake walk, I beg you to read this essay by our friend Jack Getze. He's a model of persistence and good humor and we're delighted to welcome him today!
JACK GETZE: No one's called him immortal, but it's easy to imagine my funny-mystery series protagonist as a zombie. Despite being dead and buried in1987, then again in 2008 after a brief revival, my anti-hero stockbroker Austin Carr keeps clawing back from the grave.
Scruffy, naïve, cocky, shady, scumbag, accursed and a hot mess are a few of the terms Goodreads reviewers have used to describe Austin. Obviously, not everyone's glad he's back. Too bad you humorless villains, Austin's first new adventure in six years, Big Mojo, is being published any day now by Down and Out Books.
And guess who gets a share of the blame? Why none other than the Seascape Writers class of 2013, the mighty critique group engineered by Jungle Reds Hallie and Lucy, with a late assist from Hank. I was the only male there. I had my ears pinned back a few times, but a much improved Big Mojo manuscript emerged, a tale without prologue and a story in which scenes got "unpacked." Thanks ladies. If it's a flop, I'm not blaming you.
Austin first appeared in my writing in 1985 -- almost thirty years ago. It was my third winter as a Jersey bond salesman, and writing it all down seemed a good way to make sense of a world where prices, yields and commissions were so important. Our top salesman announced to the floor one day he was doing “big numbers” that month (earning large commissions), and I told my desk buddy, “I’m going to write a novel some day called big numbers. It’s all this business is about.”
I started Austin Carr's first adventure the next morning before dawn, and placed him in an older Jersey town, near but not on, the Jersey Shore. Like Austin, I'd recently moved to such a place from southern California, and Austin's perceptions about Jersey being tougher were very much my own at the time. Probably more perception than truth. And probably more the result of a former newspaperman unexpectedly having to feed his new family on a one-hundred-percent commission sales job.
Luckily for you mystery readers, Austin's strange mindset gave way to more interesting tales I heard from my Jersey co-workers: Men being yanked off fishing boats by giant Bluefin tuna; a stockbroker who married a dying client's rich new widow. That first version of Big Numbers took two years to write and earned a New York agent, but no publishing deal. After a year the agent gave up and Austin Carr was dead. Unlikeable. I stuck him in a drawer and started something else.Twenty years later (I'm not kidding. TWENTY YEARS!) another agent was working with me on a thriller about a bark-smoking Cahuilla Indian. When this second agent declared the latest version of my Indian tale a total disaster, she suggested I needed to work on something else for a while, clear my head of "whatever you were thinking." After asking what other stories I had in the drawer, she said, "I like the stockbroker."
Something clicked for me this time (2006), an obvious but heartfelt way to make my anti-hero more likeable, and although my agent was thrilled, said very encouraging things, New York still wouldn't bite. After a year of rejection, and at my agent's suggestion, Austin ended up with a small regional publisher.
It's been seven years since the first Austin Carr Mystery Big Numbers was published, six years since the second, Big
Money, came out. And while the third novel was written, Big Mojo never saw the light of day. My agent planned a move to greener publishing pastures, but we ended up stuck in the mud of a crashing world economy. From 2009 through 2012, nobody would consider our series. "My boss would fire me if a bought a story with a stockbroker protagonist," one editor and friend told us privately.
All that changed in 2013 when Eric Campbell of Down and Out Books agreed to re-ignite the Austin Carr Series. Zombie time. Last year he published new editions of Big Numbers and Big Money, and now Big Mojo will finally see daylight. Woohoo! D&O has some well established writers in the stable, including Robert J. Randisi, Reed Farrel Coleman and Les Edgerton, so I'm thrilled to be included.
Any other writers have a similar experience with a story or character? Tell me how long one of your people festered in a drawer, and three commenters will receive a copy of Big Mojo, Big Numbers or Big Money, either eBook or paperback, their choice of one book.
About Big Mojo: Wall Street's miasmal garbage washes up on the Jersey Shore when a small time broker falls in love: Is he attracted to the beautiful lady -- or her brother's inside information? Held spellbound by an auburn-haired beauty with a get-rich-quick, insider trading scheme, Austin Carr knocks down a beehive of bad-acting Bonacellis, including the ill-tempered "Mr. Vic" Bonacelli, who wants his redhead back, and local mob lieutenant Angelina "Mama Bones" Bonacelli, architect of a strange death trap for the fast-talking stockbroker she calls smarty pants. To survive, Austin must unravel threads of jealousy, revenge and new affections, discover the fate of a pseudo ruby called the Big Mojo and slam the lid on a pending United States of America vs. Austin Carr insider trading case. Can Austin and his Jersey Shore mouthpiece possibly out maneuver the savvy U.S. District Attorney from Manhattan? Will anything matter for Austin ever again if Mama Bones flips that switch?
Find Jack on his blog, or Goodreads, or Amazon
Jack's Bio: A former reporter for both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Jack Getze is Fiction Editor for Anthony nominated Spinetingler Magazine, one of the internet's oldest websites for noir, crime, and horror short stories. His Austin Carr Mysteries BIG NUMBERS and BIG MONEY were re-issued by Down and Out Books in 2013, with BIG MOJO due in 2014 and BIG SHOES in 2015. His short stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, The Big Adios and Passages.