David S. Grant is the author of ten books including Corporate Porn, Bleach|Blackout, Hollywood Ending, and Rock Stars. His latest novel, Blood: The New Red, is now available. David lives and writes his weekly rock, travel, and NBA columns from New York City. For more information go to www.davidsgrant.com Twitter: @david_s_grant
Q: Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us what your latest book, BLOOD: The New Red, is all about?
Blood: The New Red begins at an after party where Mickey, an ex-adult movie star turned supermodel, is aligning himself with one of top Designers of Seventh Avenue. While trying to land a job on the runway Mickey is thrown into the center of a scene where sex is often the motivation, the wine is served by year, and cocaine is back in full force. Juanita, Mickey’s girlfriend is having difficulties staying sober, fully clothed, and off of her famous boyfriend.
Mickey goes to work for Fashion icon Paul Johnson, one of the two top Designers in NYC. The other is Sandy Johnson, another Designer who will stop at nothing including murder to guarantee victory. A runway exhibition has been scheduled for the two to compete in and find out who truly is the best Johnson. Mickey will be Paul’s top model, and Sandy has found a homeless person nicknamed Kung Fu Master to show his line.
In addition to getting his new line in place, Paul Johnson is also buying chain saws, the louder the better, to put the special in this special event.
Did you know that you can’t be sentenced to prison if actively seeking help at a mental facility? Paul Johnson knows this.
Somewhere between the girls, counting Vicodin pills, and show preparation Mickey has grown a conscience and no longer likes what he sees. He believes (and his psychiatrist agrees) that he has the power to change what’s happening around him.
Days before the show Kung Fu Master turns up dead and there is an attempt on Mickey’s life. After a brief period of unconsciousness Mickey is back, is told that Juanita and brother Cheeks are now also dead and that he must continue with the show. After all, what would Steven Tyler do?
The night of the show is laced with celebrities and models on the runway as well as one particular popular day-time talk show host that may or may not be murdered on the runway.
In the end only one Johnson will walk away, although this is temporary as Mickey has the last word.
Right before he pops his last Vicodin.
Mickey is an ex-porn star returning to model in New York City. He initially has to decide between the top two current designers: Paul Johnson and Sandy Johnson, simply known as The Johnsons.
Paul and Sandy on the outside appear very different, but once you see their day-to-day you realize they are very similar. Their drive and motivation rule over all other personal attributes. They want to WIN!
This is not Mickey’s first time in the game. Despite his too cool for the room aura it is evident that Mickey has matured from his “acting” days and now understands who really runs the business. Despite being caught knee-deep between The Johnsons, Mickey and his manager have a knack for viewing situations from the outside looking in.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I like to use real life situations as the motivation and then embellish as needed. The actual characters are pure fiction; of course all characteristics are pulled from someone, right? I’m definitely not saying there isn’t an ex-model-ex-porn star-model working the runways today, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t one named Mickey!
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I usually have an idea, an “out” I guess, but I rarely end up using it. My process is pretty basic, starting with an idea that develops into a high level outline by chapter. The outline helps me move the story along, though not necessarily defining where the story will end up. This makes the process more organic, allowing the writing to tell the tale as it unfolds versus full plotting.
Q: Your book is set in New York City. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
New York IS the fashion industry and also a wonderful playground for fictional characters. The saying “I can get anything I want in the city” also applies to characters set in NYC: they have access to everything. BLOOD: The New Red looks at the fashion industry, but also brings in other aspects of the city including the media, obsession with psychiatrists, and of course the unique neighborhoods throughout Manhattan. Without writing fantasy, how many cities allow a character to go from a margarita bar to a design studio to a high end TriBeCa brothel and still have time to meet their dealer? Only one I know of.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
It’s a major part. New York City is the Mecca of fashion and Seventh Avenue breaks even the greatest designers and models at some point. It’s a matter of timing and luck. For my book, Fashion Week is the light at the end of the tunnel, each chapter escalating toward the moment (or moments) on the runway. The city provides a backdrop for everything from diversity to the work environment to clubbing to murder.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A: Sandy Johnson is eating oysters with Ralph, a known hit man. They are discussing a quandary Ralph recently encountered when he was asked to “take out” one of two men standing next to each other. He “took out” the man on his right, but was later informed that this was the wrong person; instead the target was the man standing to THEIR right (facing toward Ralph.) Ralph shows little emotion telling the story. Sandy agrees with Ralph as he shoves another oyster into his mouth.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1 of BLOOD: The New Red.
Always look like a rock star. This is the number one secret on how to be famous. I’m wearing chains, lots of chains. Eye shadow, lots of eye shadow. I’m standing on the second level of the Grand Hotel, overlooking the bar area. My manager tells me this is where I need to be standing. In five minutes I will move across the room and stand next to a long mirror where one of the Hiltons will walk by and notice my reflection. A photographer will be close by and be sure to get the picture. This mirror has been placed here for this sole purpose. My manager tells me not to stare at the mirror. If you asked me to list my weaknesses, this may be my number one fault.
DJ Shingles, the newest (which means hottest) DJ, is playing on a middle level between the first and second floors. There is barely enough room for him let alone the overflowing ashtray and oversized stocking cap. Rumor has it this is his last show, despite this being his first. There is talk that he is moving into production and will be working with a major player in the hip hop industry, depending on who is hot at the time. DJ Shingles is wearing an Armani black button-down shirt with the sleeves ripped off. Very last year, but this is more a statement than a miscalculation on his part. Last season is the new season.
My manager signals for me to make my way across toward the mirror. A reporter from GQ is following me and asking me questions about who I’m going to sign with and whether or not my past will affect my future. I get her number, tell her I’ll call her later, and then blow her off as I approach the mirror. Always leak your press, never tell. This is secret number three on how to be famous.
Four widescreen televisions are fastened to the wall behind the bar. All are showing TMZ. An orange haired girl wearing a Betsey Johnson dress sees me staring at the television sets. She walks over and whispers in my ear, “It’s the new CNN.”
A waiter carrying a tray of wine from 1980 is walking by. Every 15 minutes another waiter, another tray, another year will walk by. Welcome to the world of fashion parties. Ten percent content, ninety percent presentation.
A man who goes by the name Dontay hands me a coffee cup that is full of scotch. My manager tells me to sip it and not cheers anyone. Any buzz that insinuates I’ve been in rehab and have put my porn career in the past is good press and can only help my modeling career. As scheduled, I’m approached by someone with the last name Hilton.
The Hilton is wearing a blouse that is considered the color Ocean, the new blue, but since Aquamarine blue was in fact the new blue for last season and last season is in this season, no one should be caught dead in Ocean. Unless of course she is being ironic. If so, she will have to mention this to at least three people during the course of the evening.
“Mickey, you’re back! I mean, uh…” Hilton looks at the coffee cup. “Welcome back!” She tips her coffee cup to me.
I glance around at the guest list, wondering who has the most juice at the party, but am distracted by the waiter walking through with wines from 1990.
“Good year for cabernets,” Hilton says, then grabs her blouse. “Last season is the new season, huh?” She laughs and looks fidgety as lights pop around us. At one point Hilton puts her arm around me and kisses me on the cheek. FLASH. Mission accomplished.
“I miss you, Mickey. We should get together sometime, you know, have a cup of coffee, or something.”
Sure, I tell her and then she leaves because she has a rule about spending over forty hours a week on the Lower East Side and this season many Fashion Week parties have been in LES, the new SoHo.
According to my manager, I need to make my way to a reserved table next to the bar where Paul Johnson is sitting. My manager also says to ignore the temptation of champagne. I have a job to do tonight.
Act like you’ve lived this moment a hundred times over. This is the forty-third secret on how to be famous.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, David. We wish you much success!
Thank you for having me, for more information on my writing and BLOOD: The New Red please check out http://www.silverthought.com/blood/ and http://www.davidsgrant.com. Follow me on Twitter: @david_s_grant.