Throwback Thursday: NaNoWriMo Edition

The NaNoWriMo plotting continues apace, and thanks to my dad I have a pile of pulp Western novels to get through as ‘research’. Or at least try to. If nothing else, it’ll be good for a laugh even if I learn nothing about how to write in a genre totally alien to me besides watching Rawhide, Magnificent Seven and, erm, The Waltons.

Today, in between plotting and querying and cursing a roadblock in a short story, I read the first few chapters of the excellently named Tequila Man by the equally excellently named John Blaze, so you don’t have to. And don’t tell me you’re tempted by the shiny, exciting cover. They all have ’em…


Fairly sure Hodder doubles as Jesus in the Jehovah's Witness leaflets.

Fairly sure Hodder doubles as the Joy of Sex dude.


The back cover copy’s promising, in fairness. Writing it in query letters is like pulling teeth for me. It took me half an hour to try fitting the central premise of my novel into something vaguely snappy like ‘When your brother’s temper destroys everything around him, his disappearance can really ruin your night out’. And then John comes along with this elevator pitch:

‘What man wouldn’t react violently if he found his girlfriend dying in a pool of blood, gunned down for no reason?’

I doff my large Stetson to him. That would make anyone sidle away from him in an elevator. Anyway. The first chapter starts innocently enough, with our hero Jerry moseying around with murder on his mind:

‘He’d kill those skunks some day, slowly, with spiteful satisfaction. If he could mutilate their souls, he’d do that too. He’d hunt them, grind the bastards into an evil mess of blood and dirt.’

He might kill them with alliteration first. Now, it’s important to get some characterisation in, so let’s see what kind of man Jerry is:

‘Right now he was a tequila man. Was he trying to forget? He didn’t think so… But the tequila helped. He’d avenge lovely Liza Jane, the gal he had planned to marry. In the meantime he was a tequila man.’

Sorry, what was the name of the novel again? It swiftly becomes clear that John likes using adverbs liberally, because you can’t make any facial expression without one. This leaves poor Jerry looking suspiciously like everyone’s favourite Brooding YA Hero:

‘Something nagged surlily inside Jerry McKain. Was he just a rannigan depending too much on the Mex hooch? Maybe he’d hung around too long brooding on the plans for revenge. Why the hell didn’t he get on with it?… Maybe he had too much time on his hands! Jerry McKain swung around. Aw, what the hell! He was brooding again. Maybe another shot of tequila would help!’





Mercifully, we get some action at last as Jerry saves a girl from a drunk guy on a horse. The doctor ignores a man bleeding from a gunshot wound and the unconscious girl in Jerry’s arms to give him a lecture on drinking responsibly. Which absolutely nobody in a Western will do, I suspect. Jerry, meanwhile, is more interested in the ‘pretty tear-stained face’ of the woman whose daughter’s just been run over. In fact, the woman might as well nip to the saloon now, because it’s here that our author decides to have the men chew over the whole revenge plot. Er, hello? Flat child in the cowboy’s arms here? Ah well. The ‘smart-arse bastards’ Jerry’s after were the sort who ‘molested women and shot up a harmless drapery store for no reason.’  HOLY MOLY, NOT THE DRAPERY STORE. I wonder how my main character would react to that.


Seems fair.

Seems fair.


Jerry’s still not actually started the whole main plot yet. He has time to be shouted at by his dead sweetheart’s dad and brood on the five minute horseback journey to his ranch about how ‘he never had a bride,  just an awful bloodied body that had made him vomit.’ Maybe he keeps Liza Jane in some kind of Psycho-like state and broods at her every night. Well, whatever floats your boat, mate. At least he finally beats up a varmint snooping round his house, 15 pages in. And when I say ‘beat up’, I mean he grabs him a bit and shouts ‘Damn you!’ as if we’ve moseyed into TVTropes Gosh Dang It To Heck territory, which makes the literal three fucks my protagonist gives seem like Trainspotting by comparison. There’s some more ‘Tequila be damned! Brooding be damned!’ and a racist bit I skipped, then Jerry takes all of one chapter to pick up another girl, stop her leaving with her equally asshole boyfriend by beating him up, then charm her into bed:

‘All at once he realised that Sally Lahee was a pretty young women even when crying and in distress. Strangely, somehow, that enhanced her femininity!’

Yep, nothing hotter than a woman sobbing and getting snot on your shoulder from her non-photogenic blubbing! It reminds him of his dead girlfriend, we’re told. Surely he won’t take advantage of- oh…

‘She seemed at that moment particularly helpless and yet nicely feminine… He was a man and he felt that if he kissed her she would feel better.’

Oh, John Blaze, no. YOU’VE JUST DESTROYED HER BOYFRIEND. LET THE WOMAN GRIEVE. Please don’t let them bump uglies…

‘She moaned and writhed under him, wet cheeks a sudden erotic joy…He held her and the collision of bodies went onto a natural path where sex was concerned. It was a mad lovely interlude.’





OH, JOHN BLAZE, NO. You just let a dudebro with a sobbing fetish do the dirty deed. And not only that, he ends it with ‘I’m Jerry McKain- and we’ve just made love’. You see why I don’t do sex scenes, guys? Rotting skeletal Liza Jane would be ashamed! I’m just gonna put this book down, pour a very large wine and promise I won’t write anything like this on Sunday. Or if a dudebro like this makes it in, I’ll make sure his horse punts him far into the distance to make way for the half-decent characters…



One thought on “Throwback Thursday: NaNoWriMo Edition

  1. Pingback: NaNoWriMo: The postmortem | Writings from Otherworld

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