Saturday, June 1, 2013

Why I Set The Texas Twist in Austin by John Vorhaus and Giveaway!

Page Count: 272
Release Date: 11 June 2013
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Genre: Crime, Humor, Adventure, Texas

Money Is Just How You Keep Score

For world-class con artist Radar Hoverlander and his gang of gifted grifters, making money has never been much of a problem. If anything, the game has gotten too good—and taking candy from babies is starting to wear thin. Besides, there are other things to think about. Allie Quinn, Radar’s girlfriend and key con partner, is pregnant, and his quirky sidekick, Vic Mirplo, has decided to write a tell-all exposé about life on the razzle. But "life is what happens while you’re making other plans," and before they know it, Radar and the crew find themselves defending a cute, sexy neighbor against the advances of a scam artist selling fake medical miracles. It’s when they discover who the scammer’s real target that things take a real turn for the weird.

Readers of The California Roll and The Albuquerque Turkey know what to expect from a Radar Hoverlander adventure: deft prose, rampant laughs, taut plotting, and enough twists and turns to make the head explode. Climb aboard—the double-cross express is about to get underway!

Click "Read more" to discover why and how John chose Austin—my hometown!—as his setting for his newest book, and to enter one of three copies! 

Austin Adored: Why I Chose the Setting in The Texas Twist

One of the reasons I decided to set my new con artist novel, The Texas Twist, in Austin is that I’ve long loved the city from afar, and rightly figured that a trip to the town would certainly be called for, in the name of both research and spurious tax deductions. So, at a crucial and yet wholly arbitrary point in the novel’s development, I flew from my California home to see if the most not-Texas part of Texas lived up to its billing.

And from the giant guitars in the airport baggage claim area to the fried pickles at Abel’s on the Lake, I knew I was home. A place this self-consciously weird, I thought, must necessarily make room for the scam artists and scalawags who populate the world of my imagination. And the Cathedral of Junk? Man, if I can’t find a reason to weave that location into my tale, dude, I ain’t half trying.

Now look, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. It’s not like I did serious research or anything. That wouldn’t be me. I hate research like a cat hates baths. All I did was... absorb Austin. I saw the sights, ate the food, drank the beer, and just basically contemplated the isness of it all. And when my long weekend was over, when I’d consumed all the bodacious barbecue and (512) Pecan Porter I could handle, I went home and let my new awareness of Austin inform and shape the rest of the work on my novel, both the completion of the first draft and the fervid rewrites that followed.

Now look [he said again, violating his own personal rules against 1) starting consecutive paragraphs the same way and 2) referring to himself in the third person], I don’t normally pad guest blogs like this with excerpts from my own work, but in this case I think it’s justified. In order for you to understand how my trip to Austin made its way into my work, I give you this “clip” from the text, wherein our hero, Radar Hoverlander, appraises the work of his new enemy, Adam Ames, thus:
Ames forcefully percolated his own personality through detailed elaborations of his newfound love for Austin, Texas. To Radar, Adam’s monversation appeared almost formulaic. No, it was formulaic. 1) Name an Austin trait or landmark. 2) Express admiration for one of its qualities. 3) Make a self-deprecating joke. 4) Swear loyalty.

He did this four times.

“I mean, the food in this town? I had ribs at the Salt Lick. Seriously delicious. But I’d better be careful.” He patted his stomach. “Flab city, right? Anyway, the locals tell me that Artz’s is the real deal for barbecue. I can’t wait to try them all.

“Hook ‘em Horns, yeah? Big 12 champions, baby. If I had a spare arm and a leg, I’d get season tickets.

“South by Southwest, does anything rock harder? Not that me and my tin ear would know. Still, great for the city, huh?”

And so on.
If Austinites are flattered by this I’m happy, but in fairness I would warn them: All the characters in my novels are con artists, self-serving fabulists, and shameless liars. Ames is happy to swear loyalty to Austin because it serves his nefarious ends. He would swear loyalty to Hákarl, which is fermented Icelandic shark and the world’s most vile food, if it he thought it would advance him toward his goals. So, yeah, my characters fall in love with Austin but, yeah, they can’t entirely be trusted.

That, I think, is what gives them their charm.

And in that sense, they’re a perfect fit for Austin, not because folks there are liars and whatnot, but because (according to my outsider’s perspective) theirs is a city that has more than the normal amount of self-awareness... bordering on self-consciousness. It seems to me that keeping Austin weird is as much their holy mission as Lourdes’ is to keep itself miraculous. I salute them for that. Seriously, I think it’s awesome and great.

And for the record, I did find a way to shoehorn the Cathedral of Junk into my yarn. Did I do a good job? Did I capture the authentic mis en scene of that crème-de-la-weird locale? Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Which was kind of the idea in the first place.

About the Author

John Vorhaus is the well-known as the author of both the Radar Hoverlander series and The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You're Not, as well as its acclaimed sequel, The Little Book of SITCOM, which continue to be definitive sources of information and inspiration for writers from Santa Monica to Scandinavia.

An international consultant in television and film script development, Vorhaus has worked for television networks, film schools, production companies and film funding bodies in 28 countries on four continents. He recently worked in Bulgaria, recruiting and training writers for that country’s adaptation of Married… with Children, and in Tel Aviv, consulting on the Israeli version of The Golden Girls. He also travels regularly to Nicaragua, where he co-created the social action drama Contracorriente to provide positive role modeling for the poor, young and disenfranchised of that embattled country.

And oh by the way, he has written more than three million words on poker, just in his spare time.

Vorhaus is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. He has taught at such institutions as Northwestern University, the American Film Institute and the Writers Program of the UCLA Extension. He is the author of a dozen books, including Creativity Rules! A Writer's Workbook, the novel Under the Gun, the Killer Poker series and, with Annie Duke, the bestselling Decide to Play Great Poker.


We've got one print copy and two eBook copies of The Texas Twist up for grabs! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway For additional entries, leave a comment telling me:
What's a city—anywhere in the world—that you've always loved from afar and wanted to explore? A city you'd set your book in?
Please remember to make your comment meaningful. One-worded responses or comments composed solely of "thanks for the giveaway" will not be eligible for gaining extra entries!!!

Rules and disclosure:
Sponsored wholly by the author—thank you, John!
Giveaway ends June 16th at 11.59 pm (your time).
Open to anyone with an email address—anyone in the world! Woohoo!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.
Although I do select winners, I am in no way responsible for the prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!