Happy New Year. The last few weeks have been so busy—so many little projects that I have had to neglect the blog. But I’ve been always thinking of this blog, which has been a little diary of sorts, a way to open the book of my heart to virtual strangers.
New Years is a time for things to come full circle and I would like to share my biggest circle with you: a while back, my friend Thomas tried to commit suicide, checked into rehab and began the arduous climb to sobriety. Part of that climb across the glacier of addiction involved fulfilling his life’s ambition: writing a mystery novel.
Thomas is a really smart guy–an Ivy League grad with a soft-spoken manner. And he’s rare, too: one of those Ivy League guys who doesn’t try to remind you every few minutes that they went to an Ivy-League school. I’ve never seen him wear a T-shirt with some collegiate logo on it. He doesn’t have a Volvo with one of those discreetly obnoxious stickers on the back window.
He’s a bookish, no-nonsense guy: steel-rimmed glasses, thoughtful NPR tone of voice, shaved head because it’s cheaper that way and he’s balding. I always see him with a pile of books—library books—and it shames me the amount of reading that guy does.
But Thomas has never seemed to get his act together and make the letter of his promise deliver. Why? Because he was a serious, secret addict. Whenever he could, he would drink, snort speed and pop prescription pills. I never suspected it, because he was the quiet one but, as the saying goes, “it’s always the quiet ones.”
The past year was a humiliating one for Thomas—an odyssey through rehab, half-way houses, sober living facilities. He joined AA and slowly began to rebuild the trust between himself and his wife. She wouldn’t let him move back in. Not until he was in a good place.
Thomas is the reason I started writing this blog and this mystery novel: I was trying to help a friend. The main character was about an alcoholic who graduated from Columbia University who works in the Fashion District as a driver, frittering his talent away. Guess what Thomas did for a living?
This may sound creepy, using your friend’s illness as a launching point for a writing project but, in my defense, I had Thomas’s permission: much of this was to help Thomas along in his recovery. We were writing partners and my writing helped his writing. Sometimes we wrote in the same room, the sound of the clock keeping time to the symphony of our typing
Thomas, meanwhile, was writing what he calls “supernatural addiction fiction.” It’s a potboiler noir mystery set in LA with an unusual protagonist: a vampire. The premise is also very original: you see, in this world, AA is populated by supernatural creatures—vampires are alcoholics, fairies are meth dealers. Jack Strayhorn, the central character of the book, introduces the series, is a vampire detective who was killed while investigating the infamous Black Dahlia case. He’s back in Los Angeles tracking down the supernatural killer who took out a prominent city councilman and his girlfriend. The councilman happens to be the eldest son of a powerful fairie clan and the girl has a mysterious past of her own.
The series is called Twelve Stakes, based around the Twelve Steps in AA. There are to be 13 books in the series—one step, additionally. Thomas tells me that addicts live in fantastical fantasy worlds—multi-faceted Walter Mitty lives cut in the Swarovski crystals of their cracked consciousness—and it is the lush carpet of this imaginative world that they really spend their time in. In this world, they are supernatural creatures of the night!
Happy New Year. I hope you all your creative energies find release. I hope that you scale that sheer cliff of despair and stand triumphantly on the precipice, looking down upon the panorama of the world as if you were the first man at such a height. I hope you are surrounded by friends, not monsters, who will help you along your path.