Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I did a lot of writing in college and graduate school as a student of history. I learned the basics there of how to make a point and how to strengthen a sentence and paragraph. I also took a couple creative writing courses but didn’t learn the kinds of things I needed to create a story. I really learned how to write a story by re-reading many times over a handful of treasured novels: Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, McTeague, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye were all fundamental to my understanding of character and how to develop a good plot. Once I had a story in mind — that is, a beginning, middle, and ending somewhat outlined in my head — I was ready to get to work.
What inspired you to write your book?
I traveled extensively throughout Mexico when I was younger. In my twenties, I used to go down to Tijuana to buy and consume hard drugs. Those substances were acquired in the same neighborhoods where women worked the streets. I got to know a few of them as friends and – surprise, surprise — came to discover they were real people with wit, intelligence, problems, and dreams like the rest of us. I should clarify, I have not done a single drug in many years so please don’t misconstrue my answer.
What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I think that’s a question best unanswered, at least by an author. There are obvious themes of class, work, and the burdens the universe sets up for us to overcome as we pursue goals, but I think I should leave it at that.
What drew you into this particular genre?
I have felt strongly that there is not enough literary fiction for men out there. I hope that isn’t taken as a controversial statement. I don’t mean it as one. There’s a reason 85% of book buyers are women; the market is set up to satisfy women readers. Unless a regular guy is into nonfiction, science fiction, thrillers, or fantasy, there aren’t too many places to turn. My hope is that there’s an untapped niche for humorous literary fiction, the kind of stuff Exley wrote, that Fante and Bukowski wrote. The Lecturer’s Tale comes to mind, something that goes a bit beyond wacky Florida murder mysteries. English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee is a wonderful example of the kind of novel I wish there were more of.
If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I like the question. To me, Ava is the most interesting character in the book. I think I might ask her, as brilliant as she is, what made her drop out of college and turn to sex work. I have an idea what she might say, but I’m not sure.
What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I’m not sure; I’m still developing my readership. I’m going to be posting some stuff on Instagram in the next couple months.
What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Come up with a story and keep it moving. We have enough novels exploring characters’ feelings about an early and traumatizing past experience. Be careful to include the odd detail. The odd detail is what makes writing believable. Camus was a master of the odd detail. Finally, I would say resist the advice of those authors who have made a fortune churning out multiple books each year. I’m sure there’s money in that, but there’s money in sex work, too.
What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I’m outlining a book in my head. I think it will overlap YA and psychological thriller. There will be laughs, too, be sure of that. Give me a few years to make it good.
About the Author
Zeb Beck lives in Los Angeles with his lovely wife and difficult pets. He likes and dislikes the same things you do.