Oscar Wilde. Ernest Hemingway. Hunter S. Thompson.
Each, a rock star in his own right. Oscar Wilde was put on trial for sodomy and indecency. Hemingway killed bears, fought in wars, crashed planes, had an FBI file on him. Hunter S. Thompson consumed every drug known to man, was a certified gun nut, and started FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS as a piece for fucking Sports Illustrated. Oh! And had his ashes shot out of a cannon made to look like a fist.
Who do we have like that these days? Neil Gaiman? He’s close, but let’s be honest — he’s just too nice. Too normal. A positively lovely human being by all reports. You never hear, “Famous author Neil Gaiman caught with seven stewardesses in a Wichita bus depot.” He doesn’t throw Bibles through stained glass windows or get into drunken beefs with other speculative fiction writers. You won’t see him roving about in public with exotic swords bought at a flea market looking to cut any dude who looks at him sideways.
Who else? J.K. Rowling? C’mon, she’s like someone’s business-savvy mom.
Stephenie Meyer? Ennnh. Can “Mormon” and “Rock Star” go together? It’s like peanut butter and drywall.
We don’t really have anyone. And see, while sometimes I lament that this writing career gets — in the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield — no respect, maybe what we need is to go so far down respect’s throat we come out the other side, surfing an effluent tide of flaming typewriters, LSD habits, and public badassery. We need literary rock star heroes to swoop in and save publishing.
And here’s how we get ’em.
We Need Some Literary Beefs Up In This Hizzy
Epic rock star personalities make way for epic rock star beefs. David Lee Roth versus Van Halen. Jay-Z versus Nas. Foo Fighters versus the entire TV show “Glee.”
The authorial world demands this. And we’re not talking about some little Twitter snit, some online battle oozing across a handful of Livejournal comments. It’s not enough for Stephen King to talk to Entertainment Weekly and be all like, “Well, Stephenie Meyer is no J.K. Rowling, pfft.” I’m talking, Terry Pratchett needs to go and take a shit in Dan Brown’s mailbox. James Patterson speaks publicly about Dean Koontz’s “tiny dick.” George R. R. Martin writes a 10-book epic fantasy cycle where the central antagonist is a gassy pegasus named after HUNGER GAMES author Suzanne Collins.
Rappers get rap battles. Authors need author battles. A bunch of books published lightning fast, each a fictional response to some other author’s last confrontation. You know that would boost sales. “Oh, did you see the latest pair of roman d’accusation? Jim Butcher versus Jonathan Franzen? Holy gods, somebody’s going to get hurt. Just wait till Chabon weighs in.”
Erratic Author Appearances
You put rock stars in front of people, fucked up shit starts to happen. They show up late. They break guitars. They set stuff on fire. They huff paint and throw cymbals and bite the heads off winged creatures.
Authors — c’mon. You can do this at your author appearances. Just go nuts! Fucking freak out. Kick over a book display. Throw your boot at that old lady who shows up at all the author signings and asks inane questions. For God’s sake — tell them to put down the book, it’s time to autograph some tee-tas. After you’re done inking a bunch of boobies — or dicks, who am I to judge? — take the rest of your books near to hand, douse them in lighter fluid, scream “Fuck your mother, [insert name of publishing company here]!” and then set fire to those bad-boys just before passing out on the floor in your own vomit.
Intensely Weird Drug Habits
No, no, no, I’m not saying you need to get hooked on the current spate of hardcore narcotics. Forget heroin, coke, meth, any of that. We’re writers. We need to get creative.
I want to see Neil Gaiman espousing the creative benefits of injecting himself with adrenalin harvested from a live tiger. I want to see Motherfucking Franzen smoke Oprah’s hair through a gas mask bong. Mitch Albom’s next book will be THE 7000 MACHINE ELVES YOU MEET IN PARAMUS NEW JERSEY after he goes on a DMT bender and drives his El Camino through an abandoned Borders Books and Music.
Some authors will become addicted to licking the hallucinogenic ink off their own books. Others will pulverize Kindles and cook them down into an electronic slurry and plop beads of the “Kindlejuice” onto their eyeballs with little glass droppers.
Authors need their own class of designer drugs to get the attention we so mightily deserve.
Need To Start Making Some Rock Star Demands
Oh, the tales of rock star “riders,” wherein they make demands to meet insane backstage needs. J. Lo wants red M&Ms, Iggy Pop wants broccoli, Lady Gaga demands a live goat for her paddock. You know the story.
It’s time for authors to get in on this. “I will only sign at your bookstore if I am afforded the oral comforts of four temple whores. I also demand that my signing table be perpetually orbited by two dwarves dressed as characters from my book. No one may touch my hands. I will give them their books via a catapult to the face. Finally, if I am expected to speak and share anecdotes, then I must be given one 16 oz. glass of luke warm bacon grease with which to lubricate my throat. And I must have a kitty in my lap. Not my kitty. Your kitty. And I get to eat that kitty when I’m done.”
“Sure thing, Miss Rowling.”
Insane Hobbies On Display
Writers are so polite. Their hobbies tend to match. “Oh, I collect first editions of classic American novels!” “I crochet!” “I have a sugar glider named Lord Byron!”
We’re done with that. It’s time to crank up the volume knob, break it off, and stab the shard of plastic into someone’s neck. Authors need bigger, badder, waaaaay more fucked-up hobbies.
Ostrich racing! The gunsmithy of automatic weapons! Espresso enemas! Book burning! The husbandry of predatory cats! Competitions to see who can write the longest novel! Collecting dead supermodels!
“Dude. Did you hear? Christopher Moore has this weird fight club he set up on an oil rig off-shore. He makes other writers fight coked-up mandrills with latex walrus dongs. This shit’s on Youtube.”
Jack Up Our Books With Rockstar Juice
Books are just like, pff, pshhh, meh. Boh-ring. Need to jack it up.
What about books inked in the author’s blood? Or books that, when read backwards, contain Satanic messages urging readers toward mass suicide? Or books that are empty of words until you pee on the pages?
Rock stars get the ‘concept album.’ We should be able to have the ‘concept novel.’ “This novel’s not just a bunch of words, man. All the chapters form together into a single story. Yeah. It’s pretty revolutionary.”
Groupies + Entourage = Awesome
Authors need people around them. To insulate them from the harsh rigors of the world, to help fan the flames of the fickle Muse and to help keep sweaty jam-handed fans at a halberd’s length.
b) a motherfucking entourage.
First, groupies? If I go to a bookstore, I want to head back into the break room for an after-party where a whole passel of fans await to serve my every whim. “Carry my iPad,” I’ll say to one. To another I’ll say, “You will eat olives from between my toes — but do not chew, for you will then French kiss the person next to you and spit the olives into her mouth. Then someone has to poop in a cup. Because I demand it!”
Rock star bacchanalia, baby.
And an entourage, well, come on. Let us get shut of the fallacy now that all readers are awesome. Sure, except those guys who smell like ass-sweat and who want to make unruly demands of our writing schedules. I’m just saying, when George R. R. Martin walks into a room, he should be the center of a swirling vortex of George R. R. Martin lookalikes, all of whom wear t-shirts that say, “GEORGE IS NOT YOUR BITCH.”
Pimp-Ass Writer Cribs
“Step up into my biblio-crib, son. Over here, I got a bunch of human babies crawling around a terrarium. In that room is where I keep all my beta readers — yeah, that’s them, feeding each other figs and playin’ Naked Twister and shit. Here’s all my books, gold-dipped and encrusted with amethysts. Sure that makes them unreadable. So fucking what? The whole second floor’s a library, and the library’s where I keep my jacuzzi, my jet-boat, my chainsaw collection, and the head of F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you stick a key in his ear and turn that shit, ol’ F. Scott’s mouth will start to move and he’ll recite all the words to ‘Babylon Revisited.’”
One Word: Hookers
Some writers need to get caught with either some high-dollar prostitutes — like, part of a super-elite escort chain that services Popes and astronauts — or some deeply grungy amputee meth-hookers. You can be sure that if Stephen King got caught in a Canadian bathhouse with like, a bunch of Quebecois Juggalo whores, man, his book sales would double overnight. You know it to be true.
Two More Words: Public Urination
Defecation’s an order too far, but urination? Man, there’s just something bad-ass and iconoclastic about pissing in public, something that flips a big ol’ rigid middle finger to the man. For an easy way into the bad-ass rock star lifestyle, writers need to start urinating in public. The Starbucks counter inside Barnes & Noble? Pee on it. Stack of New York Times’ newspapers containing a bad review of your novel? Pee on it. Comic-Con fans waiting in line to see Nathan Fillion just stand there looking handsome? Pee on them, then pee on Nathan Fillion, then as nerds attack with foam swords, just whirl around in the circle, peeing in a golden circumference. That’s a surefire way to get in the newspapers as a rock star writer-type.
YOU ARE A GOLDEN PENMONKEY GOD.
Your turn. What rock star habits will you adopt, writer-types? Tell us, or I’ll pee on you.