S.G. Browne

Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – Apple Fritters and Mochas

Nick Monday is a luck poacher. But once he’s poached luck from an unsuspecting mark, how does he get it out of his system so he can process it and sell it on the black market? Well, let’s just say that “he pissed it all away” isn’t just an expression.

Without going into detail (which you’ll just have to learn by reading Lucky Bastard), in order to avoid getting addicted to the luck they steal, poachers need to get it out of their system as soon as possible. Which means prepping with a mixture of sugar and diuretics. And for Nick Monday, his poison of choice is coffee and apple fritters:

The combination of sugar and caffeine helps with the processing of good luck into a marketable form. For others, sugar and alcohol does the trick. I don’t know why, since I never got better than a C in chemistry, but it’s what’s worked for generations. My great-grandma washed down rock candy with straight vodka, while Grandpa swore by powdered doughnuts and Budweiser. For me, it’s cappuccinos or mochas and apple fritters. Beer just makes me sleepy.

Because Nick’s got a thing for corporate-coffeehouse baristas (it’s complicated), he drinks cappuccinos from Starbucks and mochas from Peet’s. He also uses Starbucks to conduct some of his business, like he does in Chapter 7 at the Starbucks on Union and Laguna in Cow Hollow:

Starbucks is an ideal place for making drop-offs. It’s out in the open where no one expects it. No one’s looking around to see what anyone else is doing. People are too busy reading the paper or surfing the Internet or playing with their iPhones to care. Sometimes I think you could be masturbating while waiting in line and no one would notice.

When it comes to deep-fried pastry goodness, Nick gets his apple fritter fix from All Star Donuts on Chestnut Street in the Marina and from Bob’s Donuts on Polk Street in Russian Hill. Now I’ll be the first to admit that Bob’s has superior overall quality when it comes to donuts, but their apple fritters are a little too light for my taste. Apple fritters should be dense and artery clogging and make you feel like eating the whole thing was a really bad idea. So when it comes to apple fritters, All Star Donuts takes the prize.

While I’ve always been a fan of apple fritters, up until two years ago I’d never consumed a single coffee drink from either Starbucks or Peet’s. True fact. Although I would occasionally enjoy a cappuccino at a restaurant after a meal, unlike most writers I’ve never been hooked up to a caffeine IV drip, so I never did any writing in cafes.

But while I was writing Lucky Bastard, I decided I should probably drink a mocha and a cappuccino from both Starbucks and Peet’s for research, to get inside the head of Nick Monday. The next thing I know, I’m walking into Peet’s once or twice a week for a mocha to get a caffeine fix. Now I write at the Coffee Roastery on Chestnut Street two to three times a week while drinking a sixteen ounce mocha, no whipped cream.

This, of course, led to the inevitable mistake of drinking a mocha after 4:00pm and not being able to fall asleep until 2:00am. Which is what happened to me yesterday. And yes, that’s an apple fritter from All Star Donuts in the photo above on the right. If you’re wondering about the monkey, then you might want to check out the Name My Monkey Contest being hosted over on Facebook.


Monkey Launch Day

I’m excited to announce the official launch today of Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel, my exclusive eBook short story collection that contains ten twisted tales of dark comedy, social satire, and the supernatural.

Back in the 1980s when I read Night Shift and Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, I imagined one day having my own collection of short stories published. When I penned my first short story in 1989, a rambling, forgettable Catcher in the Rye inspired tale titled “The Dog Died,”  I figured I was on my way. Now, more than twenty years later, that moment has finally arrived.

A few of the stories in Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel have appeared previously in other print anthologies. More than half of them are brand-new tales, while several are ancestors or descendants of novels I’ve written or have yet to write. And one story took third place in the Gross-Out Contest at the 2008 World Horror Convention.

But this is the first time these stories have gathered together in one place. Kind of like a family reunion, if the family included a serial killer, a zombie gigolo, extraterrestrial sex toys, a group of professional guinea pigs, and the Seven Deadly Sins.

And you thought your family had problems.

So I invite you to order up a copy of Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel for your Nook, Kindle, or iPad. Or, if you’re like me and don’t own an eReader, you can download FREE (that’s right, FREE) software from Barnes & Noble and Amazon for your PC or Mac.

And as always, thanks for reading!

*No monkeys were harmed in the writing of this collection.

Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooks




Filed under: Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 10:02 pm

Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – O’Reilly’s Irish Pub

Unfortunately, I’ve been laid up with the flu since St. Patrick’s Day and haven’t had a chance to take my monkey out to play. Yes, I know how that sounds. Yes, I said it on purpose. You see now why I chose a monkey.

In any case, I’ve been trapped in my apartment for four days and haven’t been able to take my Monkey-Who-Has-Yet-To-Be-Named around San Francisco with me to visit the places that appear in Lucky Bastard. Fortunately, I already took pictures of most of the locations sans monkey, which just means I’ll have to get a little creative.

For this installment of the Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour, we’re going to O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in North Beach, located right across from the Green Street Mortuary. Just in case you need one-stop shopping. O’Reilly’s is a great place to grab a pint or three of Guinness while grubbing on some fish ‘n chips or corned beef and cabbage.

The centerpiece of O’Reilly’s is a thirty- foot long mahogany bar with a fifteen- foot tall back bar decorated with pillars and antique Celtic stained glass panels. Opposite the bar, the walls and drinking nooks are plastered with old photos and framed pictures of Ireland and Irish celebrities, the shelves above filled with Irish memorabilia. And covering the corner walls at the back of the bar is a hand-painted mural of famous Irish writers, including W. B Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and James Joyce (not shown).

The scene that occurs here in Lucky Bastard takes place in Chapter 29, when Nick Monday meets Tuesday Knight to discuss…well, I can’t tell you what they’re going to discuss because that would be a spoiler. But I can tell you that they sit in the back of the bar near the mural (by Oscar Wilde, actually). And when Nick orders his drinks, he stands at the bar in front of a small brass plate that reads: THIS SEAT IS RESERVED FOR CHOCOLATE DICK.

Apparently, a regular customer named Dick brings chocolate with him whenever he comes to the bar and shares the chocolate with the bartenders. So he has his own place reserved for him. No, I’m not making this up.

How Nick and Tuesday ended up at O’Reilly’s wasn’t planned out in advance. It’s just the way the story unfolded as I wrote it, where the characters told me they wanted to go, so there wasn’t any devised plan for them to meet there. But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the research.

By the way, if you didn’t notice my monkey Photoshopped into the mural of famous Irish writers, then you weren’t paying attention.


Name My Monkey Contest on Facebook

Meet my monkey. He’s going to be accompanying me around San Francisco as I promote my newest novel Lucky Bastard, on bookshelves April 17. We’ll be visiting and blogging about all the places frequented by Lucky Bastard’s main character Nick Monday—a private investigator, luck poacher, and corporate coffeehouse whore. That’s my monkey on the left, sitting on a barrel out in front of O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in North Beach, which is one of the locations that appears in the novel.

Why a monkey? Because monkeys are funny. Just the name “monkey” is funny. Say it out loud. I dare you not to laugh. See? I told you so. But what makes this monkey relevant is that I just so happen to have an eBook exclusive collection of short stories coming out on March 27, entitled Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel. The problem is, my monkey needs a name.

So what’s this all about? Well, a giveaway, of course. And what am I giving away?

  • Signed collection of my books (Breathers, Fated, Lucky Bastard)
  • eBook of Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel
  • $50 gift card to Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble or Amazon (your choice)

So how can you enter? All you have to do is pre-order a copy of Lucky Bastard, follow me and my monkey through my blog posts, and then suggest a name by entering the Sweepstakes through my Facebook Author Page. (Unfortunately, I’m not able to accept contest entries left here on this blog post. Sorry.)

Only persons residing in the United States who are at least 18 years of age can enter. Contest runs through April 16, 2012 at 11:56pm PST. Check out the Official Rules.

And good luck!


Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – More Nick Monday

When I started writing Lucky Bastard in the spring of 2009, my main character was named Jon Rolli. I wasn’t thrilled with the name but it held him in place. Once I finally made him a private detective, I decided he needed another name. Something that suited him better. Something with a little more panache.

Back in 1991, I wrote a screenplay titled A Fish Out of Water—an Airplane! and The Naked Gun inspired comedy spoof about a private detective in Chicago dealing with corrupt developers while trying to find a rare, stolen Australian myna bird purchased from a specialty hybrid pet store called The Fish Out of Water Pet Shop. That’s the screenplay over there on the left.

The script includes a lot of word play and silliness and characters with names like Nick Monday, Warren Peace, Sandy Beach, Al Chemy, and a band named Umbilical Dan and the Chords. Nothing ever came of the script, but I always liked the name Nick Monday, so I stole it from my Chicago detective and gave it to my luck stealing P.I. in San Francisco. I also took the name of the female lead in the script, Tuesday Knight, and gave it to my main femme fatale in Lucky Bastard.

Even though they share the same name, the Nick Monday in my screenplay and the Nick Monday in my novel are two completely different people. In A Fish Out of Water he’s easily confused, honest, and rarely gets laid, while in Lucky Bastard, he’s competent, steals luck, and has sex more often than Charlie Sheen. He’s also developed some repetitive consumptive behaviors that, while not destructive, are a definite by-product of his lifestyle.

Cappuccinos. Apple fritters. Lucky Charms.
Mochas. Mentos. Corporate-coffeehouse baristas.
Just to name a few.

And while you might think someone who was born with the ability to poach luck would live in a Pacific Heights mansion or own a place in Nob Hill, luck poachers live a nomadic lifestyle and often have to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice. Plus, there are definite karmic consequences to stealing someone else’s good fortune.

So even though Nick lives in The Marina neighborhood, with it’s Art Deco buildings and views of the Golden Gate Bridge and abundance of attractive Kens and Barbies decorating the cafes and bars, Nick ended up with something less than what he’s grown accustomed to:

I live in a studio on the third floor of a four-story building on Lombard Street, next to a dry cleaner’s, across from a transient motel, and just this side of dilapidated. Not my first choice for living accommodations, but sometimes you take what you can get. Or go where your mistakes take you.

Again, I’ve played with reality a bit here, as Nick’s building doesn’t exist in the location I’ve described. But I wanted him to live in The Marina, so I placed his fictional apartment building on Lombard Street across from the Bridge Motel. While The Bridge has recently been “cleaned up,” for years it was a crime-ridden motel whose residents had to deal with bed bugs, rats, and on-site drug deals.

Above on the right is Nick’s view of the Bridge Motel from the front door of his apartment building, where he often finds a homeless person and gets to enjoy the smell of fresh urine. The photo on the immediate left is from the parking lot on the side of the motel, which gives you a better idea of it’s unique neighborhood charm.

Filed under: Lucky Bastard,Nick Monday,The Writing Life — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 6:00 pm