Welcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at The Bawdy Book Blog. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story.
This Week’s Excerpt: The Road To Fluffer by Dan Schell!
Darrell Steiner is a middle-aged music journalist caught between his magazine’s corporate takeover and a disintegrating marriage. Forced to prove his relevance in an ever-changing music industry, he is assigned to cover a small-time heavy metal band, Numb Skull, for an ill-fated tour through the Midwest. Numb Skull’s music is loud, their lyrics pedestrian, and their dreams of the wild rock and roll life drive every decision. Darrell, however, begins to see the assignment as the death knell of his career, helpless on the road while his wife shacks up with his brother.
The makers of Fluffer, the adult energy drink, have gotten into the music business, culminating in the annual Fluffer Music Festival in Chicago. Numb Skull has earned a slot to play at the festival but the band struggles to keep the tour from derailing after a series of mishaps, while Darrell wrestles with his personal and professional lives, finding himself both burdened and sheltered by the road.
The first club on the tour was Stinger’s, waist-deep in Detroit’s downtown blight. The city’s abandoned, beautifully-crafted buildings stood like tombstones in an urban cemetery. One such building stood across the street from Stinger’s. The entire block was fenced off with high chain-link and the first floor was boarded up completely in a sign of glacially-paced construction, though these barriers did not deter urban explorers and vandals, who were still able to get inside and spray paint the windows in colorful tags like “Rik Rik” and “Antoine.”
Upon first glance, Stinger’s itself looked abandoned. A dirty red overhang above the door rippled in the cold wind, imprinted with the gold, cursive lettering of the club’s name. One lone window served more like a wall, with thick, black metal screens bolted in front of glass panes covered in a patina of grey gunk. Ritchie pulled the door open and went inside to inquire about load-in. After a couple of minutes, he swung the metal entrance door open and stepped outside. “You think it’s rough outside…come in here.”
The six of us filed through the bar’s door, doubling its patronage. I felt like I’d stepped onto a stage set for a modern adaptation of The Iceman Cometh. In the dim room, strands of white Christmas lights outlined the back of the bar itself, twinkling in the grime. It smelled of pre-ban cigarette smoke that had worked its way into the room’s fabric over several decades of lung abuse, combined with the sharp acridness of stale beer and body odor. The carpet was a deep red that likely hid blood stains from disagreements past, ending fifteen feet in front of the stage, where a dark-wood dance floor lay, scuffed like the surface of an old bowling ball. Four-person booths lined two of the walls, their cushions ripped and flattened by the heft of a thousand asses. Empty tables and chairs stood in the center with vacant sadness. A few people sat at the bar in the slumped posture of the alcoholic, not even bothering to look over at a bunch of honkies from outside the neighborhood.
Ritchie propped open the front door. As he unloaded the trailer, Brian and Jimmy followed to help and keep watch on the thousands of dollars of equipment left exposed in the middle of Detroit.
I took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. People began trickling in. Numb Skull was opening the show for the Brides of Blood, a popular local metal band that consisted of four intimidating females. They rammed their AC/DC straight through their Motorhead and came up with some fun, hard-driving music. Why either band was playing at a neighborhood bar on a squalor kick was beyond me. The Brides could play any number of larger venues within fifty miles on a Friday night and draw a decent crowd. There was no reason for them to drag their music further through the gutter than it needed to be.
The bored bartender left his station and flipped on a jukebox hiding in a dark corner. Rock music blared from its weary speakers and the regulars began slapping bills on the bar before making their escape, being replaced by newcomers arriving in twos and fours. The Girls of Numb Skull were there, minus Chester’s girlfriend, surrounding a table near the stage. They leaned to and fro, yelling conversation in each others’ ears. A bouncer in a black muscle shirt perched on a stool next to the door, collecting money and checking IDs, while people dug through purses and pockets to prove their adulthood. The transformation from dive bar to rock club was underway.
About the Author
I graduated from high school in 1992 and entered the workforce full-time. In my free time, I wrote hundreds of poems, two unpublished novels, and had a few publications within the pages of any literary journal that would have me.
In 2004, while in my 30s, I began taking evening classes at Saginaw Valley State University, where I was invited to enroll in the Creative Writing Senior Seminar, even though my major at the time was in Professional & Technical Writing and I was only a sophomore. The skills gained and encouragement received while in these classes persuaded me to change my major to Creative Writing in 2007 and take my writing more seriously.
In 2010, I won both the Winter and Fall editions of the Cardinal Sins Poetry Slam in Saginaw, and began regularly publishing my poetry in journals around the country and on the internet, including the National Gallery of Writing through the National Council of Teachers of English.
In 2012, I left my day job and classes at SVSU, finishing The Road to Fluffer in about eight months. Keeping with the do-it-yourself spirit, I self-published the novel through Createspace’s print-on-demand program, which keeps publishing costs (formerly a large investment) to a minimum. The reception has been good so far and I just completed an ebook giveaway which sent copies of my novel to 65 people in 14 countries. That story is still unfolding.
I am currently planning my next writing projects, with shorter pieces being released this year and my second novel coming sometime in 2014.
My published poetry and sample chapter of The Road to Fluffer can be found at: http://www.scribd.com/dan_schell
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