Coffee, Mon Ami
“I went out to the kitchen to make coffee – yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired men.” (Raymond Chandler – The Long Goodbye)
It’s funny where story ideas come from. My novel, Last Stop sprung up from one little sentence, which I penned only to illustrate the difference between passive voice and past continuous tense. It was about two guys in a diner, one of whom could fix a mean cup of joe. That should’ve been the end of it, but my thoughts kept circling around the sentence like buzzards. Who are these guys, and what are they doing in the diner? I kept asking myself. And what’s with the coffee?
I’m an addict, no doubt about it. I start every day with a bowl of coffee. Without it I’m a zombie—slow, dumb, and homicidal. Fortunately, new studies keep coming out about the health benefits of coffee. It’s said to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s shown to protect mice against Alzheimer’s disease. I didn’t know mice had this problem, but I’m very happy that now they have a way to fight back.
After all the pondering, I got the idea to write a short story around the magical properties of a mug of java—not unlike Jordan Castillo Price and friends do about chocolate in the Petit Morts series. Hell, I should write an entire series of them. There could be as many stories as types of coffee—from the dainty looking but lethal-as-a-ninja assassin espressos, to the exuberantly frothy cappuccinos. Oh, and let’s not forget the exotic types like strong and sweet Vietnamese ice coffee and that rough thug, the Turkish coffee.
I planned to set my story in a diner, and have one of the protagonists saved from deadly disaster because they run out of coffee grinds and he has to go to the stock room for more. Immediately, I got stuck with my story. My protagonists, Sam and Jay, refused to be stuffed into a short story. They wanted space to roam, romance, and do kinky stuff. To convince me, they kept whispering their backstories. Sam turned out to have lots of secrets in his shady past, and Jay’s youthful exuberance hid a few surprises too. Never one to say no to handsome men, I gave in and started to write the novel.
In the end the book’s not about coffee at all, but it pops up here and there. The story starts with a diner. The scene where Sam—temporarily—avoids a lethal situation by being in the storage room at a pivotal moment, is still there.
In case you haven’t guessed it yet, all the photos here are gratuitous coffee and man porn—except the one with the rodent. (Unless there are rodents reading this, in which case it might qualify as titillating.) I figure I should finish in style, with two of my favorite men:
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Sam Mayne’s life is as dull as the dishwater in his small-town Montana diner, and that’s just how he wants it. Quiet, uneventful, safe from his shadowy past. The breezy young drifter who answers his help-wanted ad makes him uneasy in ways he dare not examine too closely. Except he can’t help but be pulled in by Jay Colby’s spunky attitude, endless stories, and undeniable sex appeal.
Fresh off yet another romantic disaster, Jay doesn’t understand his attraction to the taciturn line cook, but there’s no fighting the chemistry that lands them in bed together. Where Sam’s subtly dominant streak takes command, and Jay delights in discovering the pleasures of his submissive side.
Safe in the assumption their relationship is temporary, neither lover holds back when the heat is on. Until Sam’s deadly past catches up with them with a vengeance, forcing him to drop the life he’s built, pick up his lover, and run. As danger cuts closer to the bone, Sam and Jay are forced to face the truth. About themselves, about the depth of their love—and the newly forged bonds that are about to be tested to the limit.
About the author:
Under a prickly, cynical surface Lou Harper is an incorrigible romantic. Her love affair with the written word started at a tender age. There was never a time when stories weren’t romping around in her head. She is currently embroiled in a ruinous romance with adjectives. In her free time Lou stalks deviant words and feral narratives.
Lou’s favorite animal is the hedgehog. She likes nature, books, movies, photography, and good food. She has a temper and mood swings.
Lou has misspent most of her life in parts of Europe and the US, but is now firmly settled in Los Angeles and worships the sun. However, she thinks the ocean smells funny. Lou is a loner, a misfit, and a happy drunk.
Lou’s Website: louharper.com