Wednesday, April 19, 2017

From Bedroom to Book: Chili Run by Stuart R. West

From pillow to page...

Despite the rather enticing, come-hither title of this post (gotcha!), I'm not going to start writing erotica.

Rather, it's a round-about way to chat up my new comedy thriller, Chili Run.
Sorry, sorry, sorry, a kazillion times sorry!
Let's back up...

I have a vividly wild dream life, ranging from talking cat gangstas to bathrooms that eat people. After these strange dreams--during that oddly drifting, half-awake, half-asleep state of mind where the dreams still somewhat resemble logic--I think, "Hey! This would make a nifty book!"

Then, I wake up and think, "Man, what was I thinking?" No one wants to read an epic fantasy novel about a family of royal lions who fly 1930's fighter planes to save the kingdom. I shower, go about my day, the dreams drifting away like cottonwood in the wind.

This wasn't the case with Chili Run. This dream stuck with me, absurd though it was. I toyed with it, determined to find a way to make it work. I knew what the gist was; now I had the unenviable task of trying to make sense of it.

Well, here...the blurb says it best:

When Wendell Worthy decides to blow off laundry for the day, he has no idea he'll soon be running across downtown Kansas City in his tighty-whities. But a murderous, psychotic drug dealer has his brother and the ransom's a cup of chili that has to be delivered within two hours.  The catch? There are rules in place: no rides, no money, no help. And Wendell has to do it in his underwear. Regardless of the rules, he knows he can’t go it alone. The only person downtown who might help is Alicia. Too bad their one and only date ended in disaster. Wendell can run like the devil’s on his tail, and he’s gonna’ need to, because all sorts of hell’s about to break loose.

Okay, I know dream analysts are gonna have a field day with the subject matter. There's the requisite recurring nightmare of being caught out in public in your underwear (or nude). I pay it full tribute and absolutely own it.

Researching the book was a bear. To accurately describe downtown, Kansas City, my wife patiently drove me around so I could plot out Wendell's trajectory and, I hope, paint a unique, darkly comic, nightmare vista.

While there's a streak (ugh on the pun!) of humor running (again, ugh.) through the book, it's not as in-your-face, silly as my Zach and Zora comic mysteries, but it's a cousin of sorts. (There's even a quick connection for eagle-eyed readers to the aforementioned series, cementing it in the same universe). Here the stakes are higher and lives are hanging in the balance.

For me, the book's kind of an experiment. As Wendell runs through most of the book, I strove to keep the book moving along from one bizarre and dangerous adventure to the next. It's told in "real time," too, kinda' like the TV series 24 (while writing it, the soundtrack in my head consisted of that annoying "ka-ching, ka-chung" of 24's clock running down; plenty of aspirin were consumed).

What I thought was going to be an easy-peasy, cakewalk of a book turned into a huge struggle due to the above-mentioned reasons and more. I mean, honestly, how many different ways can you describe running?

Along the way, just like my protagonist's character, themes developed and grew, some understated, some not so much. It's about racism, writing, and above all--most surprising--it turned into a love story.

All in a little book about a guy running through public in his tighty-whities trying to save his dumb brother's life.

Chili Run: The perfect thriller for the reader on the go.