S.G. Browne

Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – Nick Monday, P.I.

When I initially sat down to write Lucky Bastard, all I had was the concept of luck poaching and the novel starting out on the roof of a hotel. I didn’t know where the story would go, how I would get my character back on to the hotel roof, or even my character’s name. I just had twenty pages of an idea with a couple of characters and some potential for plot.

It was around this time in April 2009  that I sold my second novel, Fated, and my agent asked me to send her a synopsis of Lucky Bastard that she could share with my publisher. Which is all well and good if you’re a plotter but when you’re a pantser, writing a synopsis of a novel you haven’t written yet poses a bit of a problem.

After all, how the hell am I supposed to write a synopsis when I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen?

My agent told me to just make up something, so that’s what I did. I made something up. And it started out like this:

Jon Rolli is a private detective who lives in San Francisco with his cat, eats Lucky Charms every morning for breakfast, and has an affinity for corporate coffeehouse baristas. He’s also a luck poacher.

There was another page-and-a-half of gibberish about luck and plot points and other characters, and we’ll get to the name of my protagonist in a minute, but the idea for him to be a private detective popped into my head for a couple of reasons.

One, I’d recently read and critiqued a couple of detective novels written by other members of my writers group. And two, I walked past the building on the right, located at the corner of Fillmore and Filbert, at least a couple of times a week over the previous three years. On the second floor, the one above the defunct Irish bakery, is Immendorf Investigations, Private Detectives. (Click on the photo to enlarge).

At that point, I still wasn’t sure my main character was going to be a private detective. It was just an idea that I thought might be useful. Even nine months later, in early January 2010, with only eighty pages written, he still wasn’t a P.I. (I know this because I save every version of a manuscript I’m working on on as a separate file).

Nick Monday wouldn’t become a private detective until nearly a year after I’d written the synopsis, which is when he would finally get an office at the corner of Sutter and Kearny. On the left you’ll see two buildings. (Again, feel free to click on the image for a larger picture). The one on the far left is the actual building located on that corner. In reality, the offices and units on those five floors are much larger than the cramped 10′ x 10′ office Nick inhabits in Lucky Bastard. As Nick describes his digs:

I have my own little office in downtown San Francisco. And when I say little, I don’t mean in a quaint or a charming kind of way. Like a little cottage or a little eccentric. It’s more like a little hungover. Or a little anorexic.

The building on the right, which is just up Kearny on the other side near Bush Street, is more like the office building I imagine for Nick. But I preferred the sound and feel of him having an office on the corner of Sutter and Kearny rather than near the corner of Kearny and Bush. So I took some creative license with reality and left him there.

As for how Nick Monday got his name, I’ll share that in my next blog post.

Filed under: Lucky Bastard,Nick Monday,The Writing Life — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 8:36 pm


  1. Congrats on the new book! I’m on it as soon as the purse-strings loosen. Wish you were touring in my neck of the woods!
    Cheers, and have fun with your monkey … um, you know what I mean. XD

    Comment by Zuzana — March 19, 2012 @ 7:17 am

  2. Thanks Zuzana. And yes, I always have fun with my monkey…

    Comment by admin — March 19, 2012 @ 10:12 am

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