Fiction Friday: ‘NEW NOVEL WHAT???’ edition

Let me briefly explain how my brain works.

My brain is like that asshole college roommate who drinks all your good beer and replaces it with Natty Light. Sure, it’s not exactly what you wanted, but it will do, right? I don’t ever have ‘an idea’ rattling around in my head. I either have nothing, or I have too many to work on all at once. For a while now, I’ve had ‘nothing’. But for several weeks, conversations with my brain have looked like this:

Yo, I’ve got an idea for a novel.
Brilliant! Is it the sequel to Say Nothing?
Lol nah.
…okay, what is it?
Seattle. 1990s. Grunge scene.
…that’s…. That’s not a novel. That’s a setting, and a theme.
Hey, my work here is done.

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner and a sequel to Say Nothing already earmarked for that, I was going to ignore my persistent, petulant brain. Then it gave me a (working) title. Then an opening scene. Then two characters. Now I was listening. Then it gave me the vaguest idea of a plot, and now I’m excited.

I’ve written the first chapter. This is a tiny excerpt – just a teaser – introducing you to one of the main characters. Enjoy!


Above a double garage in the green suburb of Washington Park was a studio apartment where Jesse lived in squalor. The occupants of the house were the Williamses, an elderly couple whose ears could rarely pick up the sound of Jesse’s loud guitar, even if their noses often caught whiff of the pot smoke that frequently came across the garden from the garage. Jesse had lived in the apartment for two years, but had made no effort to scrub it up: paint was peeling in the loft area above the kitchen, where a mattress and rumpled sheets on the floor formed his bed; in the tiny bathroom, the faucet dripped; there was a pervasive smell of damp (noticeable even over whatever takeout was spoiling on the counter) from a roof leak he never bothered to report to his landlords. His landlords, quiet though he kept it, were his parents. Embarrassingly wealthy, they owned one of the largest real estate companies in Seattle, and the house in Washington Park was one of their many rentals. The Williamses paid rent; Jesse did not. Though Jesse’s apartment was small and filthy, he found that his friends and bandmates were in awe of him having his ’own place’, so for two years he had simply let them assume that his landlords were the Williamses. In Jesse’s defense, he had never technically lied, he just hadn’t corrected them: he couldn’t be held responsible if they came to the wrong conclusion. He didn’t correct them when they assumed his parents had cut him off, either. They painted for themselves an image of Jesse as a struggling musician, Mom and Dad’s purse strings brutally cut; the rug pulled out from underneath him; on his own since the day he flipped the proverbial bird to his parents’ dreams for him and dropped out of real estate school. He was their hero. A rock star. After all this time, like the stench of weed that perforated the furnishings and even the walls of his apartment, this white lie had seeped into Jesse, until he almost believed it himself.

So he let the apartment go to ruin. He didn’t replace the couch when it started to sag in the middle, or the bulb that blew in the kitchen. Someday, when his band made it big, there would be a glittering write-up in Rolling Stone of his rags-to-riches tale. Jesse Parr, who came from nothing and formed the greatest rock band of all time. Jesse Parr, the kid who made it big.



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