So I've been thinking about freedom.
Politicians shout about it, flags wave, bells sound. A phalanx of American heroes have fought and died across the globe and in our own land to maintain it. And yet, as I sit here in the darkness, beer in hand, contemplating my existence, I feel so shackled I can barely breathe.
I've got a mortgage to pay, two kids in college, tax bills, utility bills, insurance bills, a forty page wireless bill. My wife tells me what pants to wear; my kids tell me what music to listen to; my friends gleefully tell me when my ball is out of bounds. And can I strip off my clothes and run naked through the streets while singing a Bob Seger song? Apparently not. Rules man, so many damn rules.
How do you write a book about that?
Well I had this idea: take two old friends, stir in a sister who vanishes, add a dash of totalitarian violence, and then send the friends on the road, searching not just for the missing woman but for something they can't quite explain but for which they both yearn in their own ways.
Yet here's the thing, you can't write about freedom without bending the rules, because if you don't the telling becomes part of the problem. So in writing the novel I determined to bend genre and setting and even history, to bend whatever needed to be bent to tell it right -- like a blues singer bends the strings of her guitar -- and what I ended up with is GUARANTEED HEROES.
It's a book about America and the messiness of freedom, and I hoped that by bending the rules I could make it toll as clear and as hard as that cracked bell in Philadelphia, just down the road from where I sit in the darkness with my beer and my shackles.
Let me know if it rings for you.