S.G. Browne

Name My Monkey Contest Winner

Over the past month, I received 118 suggested names for my monkey in the Name My Monkey Contest. I waited until the contest was over to check out the entries and had a tough time coming up with a winner. So thank you for making my job difficult.

There were more than a dozen entries that incorporated a monkey theme, including Chimply, Chimp Charlie, Mr. Monkeypants, Banana, Bananas, Bongo Bananahands, Sir Simian, Howler, Bonobo, Thelonious Monk(ey), and Chunky Banana Monkey (which played to my love of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream).

Some entries offered up full names, like Walter Lamar Booth and Charlie Buckhead, while a handful provided regal names like Princess Consuela Banana Ha-mach and Captain Reginald Carpaccio of Winchester that resonated with royalty.

Several entrants who are very secure with themselves suggested I name my monkey after them. Another thought I should name my monkey Jason Bateman (which played to my love of Arrested Development).

The majority of the names were of the Madonna or Prince variety—single names that needed no surname to complete them. Xavier, Maynard, Feldspar, Rasco, Rufus, Schroedinger, Calvin (which played to my love of Calvin & Hobbes), Mercutio, Barnaby, Grums, and Beppo, who is apparently Superman’s pet monkey. I had no idea Superman had a pet monkey. But if he did, his name would be Beppo.

Half a dozen people suggested the name Spank, Spankie, or Spanky, while another threw out Slappy, just in case spanking my monkey grew tedious. Three offered the names Lucky, Son of a Bastard, and Dirty Bastard (which played to my love of my new novel). And one entry suggested I name my monkey Balboa Browne (which played to my love of myself).

But after careful consideration and mulling and rolling the names around on my tongue and in my head, I finally settled on a winner: Reginald Muffintop the 3rd, suggested by Cassandra Rose.

Congratulations! You’ve won signed copies of all three of my novels, a copy of my eBook short story collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel, and a $50 gift card of your choice to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest and who took the time to come up with a name. I appreciate you playing along and helping to make the contest a success.

Oh, and just for the record, Reginald Muffintop the 3rd’s gangsta rapper name is Reggie M3.


Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – Harry Denton’s Starlight Room

It’s always fun to see the expressions on people’s faces when I walk into a room, pull out my monkey, and start taking pictures.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enjoy that experience when I went to Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, located on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Before I could take any photographs of the interior of the night club to post on my blog, I needed permission from someone who wasn’t available at the time. And since I waited until Wednesday night to take pictures for the final Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour installment, the best I could do was take a picture of my monkey in the elevator.

However, if you click on the link to Harry Denton’s above, it will take you to the official website, where you can see photos reserve a VIP booth, or book your reservations for their weekly Sunday drag queen performance brunch.

While no drag queens appear in Lucky Bastard, the Starlight Room makes several appearances in the novel—the first near the end of Chapter 18, when Nick Monday is escorted up to the nightclub by one of the Beefeater doormen.

When the doors open, he gestures for me to exit, then follows me out of the elevator and into Harry Denton’s Starlight Room,the nightclub atop the Drake with a 360-degree view and 1930s throwback style.  Decorated in ruby reds and Egyptian golds, with deep-velvet booths and rich crimson silk drapes and signed celebrity photos in the bar, Harry Denton’s looks like something you’d see straight out of a noir film. Standing at the bar with a half-finished cigarette and a full set of curves is a long-haired brunette in a formfitting, long-sleeve, black shirt, a tight, leopard-skin-print skirt, black stockings, and high-heeled shoes that match her skirt. But I only notice her shoes because they’re connected to her long, sleek legs. Which are connected to the rest of her anatomy.

As for who the woman is, you’ll just have to read the book to find out. But I will say that I had no idea she was going to show up until Nick walked into the bar and saw her sitting there.

We end up visiting the Starlight Room in Chapter 37 and again in Chapter 40, both near the end of the book.  So it’s the appropriate place to end the Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour, as it plays a significant location role in the climax and the dénouement.

As is often the case in fiction, I’ve taken some liberties with the reality of Harry Denton’s Starlight Room:

1) The office for the Starlight Room is downstairs on the Lower Lobby level of the hotel, which would make for a rather boring location.

2) Harry Denton doesn’t own the nightclub in my novel. It just kept his name.

3) Although the elevators are right across from the bar, there isn’t a wall of signed celebrity photos.

4) There’s no EXIT door that leads to the roof. But since I started my story out on the roof of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, I had to find a way to get Nick Monday back up there. So I did some interior decorating to suit my needs.

And that concludes our virtual blog tour of the San Francisco locales that appear in Lucky Bastard. I hope you enjoyed your trip. Please feel free to tip your tour guide on the way out.




Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – The Kitchen Sink

Welcome to the penultimate post of the Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour. I always used to get confused by the word penultimate, thinking it sounded like it should mean something along the lines of “better than ultimate” or “super duper.” But now I’ve finally figured out what it means and how to use it in a sentence. As a writer, that’s a fairly useful skill.

So here were are, in the next to the last entry for the virtual blog tour, and rather than picking a single location, since there are so many of them remaining and I just don’t have the time to do a blog post about all of them before Lucky Bastard comes out next Tuesday (can I have a Woo Hoo!?), I decided to combine them all together in a single post.

We kick things off at  the Green Street Market on the corner of Green and Laguna at the edge of Pacific Heights, where Nick stops in to buy a pack of Mentos. It’s also where his day starts to get complicated. Not because of the Mentos but because of the Asian woman in the red coat. I don’t know if the proprietor of the grocery store/deli is named Sam and has a shaved head, but he does in my book.

Next we have Tommy Wong’s undisclosed hideout in Chinatown. Since not even I know the location, it’s represented here by the Lucky Cats in the photo up top. While the Lucky Cat is actually a traditional Japanese sculpture, it’s a ubiquitous staple in Chinatown gift stores and in Chinese restaurants and shops to help beckon in good fortune. That’s what the Lucky Cat is doing. Not waving but beckoning. Depending on which paw is raised and who’s doing the interpreting, the left paw raised brings in customers, while the right paw attracts good luck. The Lucky Cat appears several times throughout Lucky Bastard.

In another chapter, Nick is dropped off in North Beach on Broadway in the strip club district, across from The Hungry I Club, The Roaring 20’s, and Big Al’s—which used to be an adult super store selling skin magazines, edible underwear, and porn videos but which is now a deli and grocery store that peddles a more traditional kind of salami. Next to Big Al’s is The Condor Club, former hot spot featuring the famous Carol Doda that claimed to be the world’s first topless and bottomless entertainment venue when it opened in 1964.

Nick also contemplates his problems as well as a girl in a bikini in Huntington Park at the top of Nob Hill, goes into the Searchlight Market on Hyde and Union to pick up some Advil and Mentos (he’s got a thing for Mentos), has lunch and one too many Bellinis at Scala’s Bistro with the cute and vexing Scooter Girl, and meets with wanna-be gangsta rapper Bow Wow on Market Street across from the Westfield Shopping Center.

Those of you who have read Fated might catch a reference to a scene that takes place in my second novel at the Westfield Shopping Center. Nick also mentions the full name of Fate’s alter ego.

Finally, we visit Union Square, the only other iconic San Francisco landmark that appears in Lucky Bastard. Nick comes through Union Square on a couple of occasions—first while following Tuesday Knight after she leaves his office and again when he goes into Caffe Rulli and poaches luck from a douche bag on a cell phone. Not to be confused with Alex the Vegan Douche Bag, who is Nick’s personal chauffeur.

By the way, in the photo of Union Square on the right, that’s the Sir Francis Drake Hotel towering above Saks Fifth Avenue, with Harry Denton’s Starlight Club perched atop it. As The Starlight Club appears in several chapters and plays a somewhat significant role in the novel’s climax, that’s where the Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour will come to an end on Friday.


Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour – Lombard Street

Most of the places we’ve visited on the Lucky Bastard San Francisco Blog Tour have been of the more obscure variety and not exactly places you’d find in your Frommer’s or Lonely Planet travel guide. So don’t get your hopes up that Nick Monday will take a ferry to Alcatraz or race across the Golden Gate Bridge or hang out at Pier 39.

However, the one iconic San Francisco landmark that does appear in Lucky Bastard is Lombard Street, otherwise known as The Crookedest Street in the World. (Though there is some debate that Snake Alley in Burlington, IA holds that distinction.)

But for the sake of argument, we’ll say Lombard Street has the title. The one-way section of brick-paved street in Russian Hill runs for one block from the Hyde Street cable car tracks down a steep grade through eight terraced switchbacks and residential homes, ending at Leavenworth. The famous street has appeared in numerous films, hosted an Easter Big Wheel race (which I attended), and been turned into a giant Candyland board to celebrate the board game’s 60th anniversary.

And occasionally, if you look closely, you can spot one of San Francisco’s famous Wild Monkeys of Russian Hill.

The scene in Lucky Bastard that takes place here occurs in Chapters 12 and 13, when Nick arrives at the top of the street after a failed luck poaching. He’s surrounded by tourists, looking for a mark— someone who exhibits behavior that indicates they were born with good luck—when a sixteen-year-old kid races down the twisting road, maneuvering between cars:

I watch the kid on the skateboard glide between fenders and curbs, past bumpers and hedges, oozing teenage bravado and confidence. Halfway down the hill, the kid gets clipped by a Volvo, rolls over the hood of the car, and lands in some bushes blooming with pink flowers. Then he pops up and gets back on his skateboard unscathed and continues down the street with a smile on his face and a triumphant middle finger raised in salute for the driver of the Volvo.

And behold, I think I’ve just found my mark.

He takes off after the kid, racing down the 250 steps, only to run into trouble when he makes it to the bottom. What kind of trouble? That would be a spoiler. But I will say that I reference Cory Haim and Cory Feldman and someone ends up with a bloody nose.


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.