We’re still in the first week of release for A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Yountville and interesting questions have already come in via social media and this site’s Contact Us. I’ve picked a few to share and hope the answers will increase everyone’s enjoyment of the stories.
1. Are the stories true?
For the most part, yes, though only to the extent I am willing to admit or disclose. Names have been changed to protect the guilty, but venues are mostly accurate. I filled in some gaps with stock footage because, after all, I’m a fiction writer. Caveat Lector.
2. Are wine lessons contained in some of the stories intended to make the book a tutorial?
I didn’t set out to write a tutorial on wine tasting, though tasting is a major part of the wine experience. As discussed in Initiation and That Cork’s Not Going To Pull Itself, knowing how to taste and serve wine properly can greatly influence whether we like or don’t like a particular wine. I’m not a wine educator or expert, but have come in contact with many along my wine journey and continue to benefit from their instruction and advice. Most casual wine sippers say “I know what I like and what I don’t like” and I’m sure for many that’s true. I thought along those lines until I took a formal WSET course at the Napa Valley Wine Academy and learned why I like or don’t like either a specific wine or type of wines. Since then, a deeper understanding of my wine preferences has saved me a lot of money and disappointment when buying a bottle to take home or ordering from a restaurant wine list.
3. Are terms used to describe wine in Wet Dogs And Armpits actually used in the wine trade?
Not all the terms I use in the conversation at the bar are real, though the terms I specifically describe are certainly used by wine professionals when appropriate, e.g. wet dog and manure. I hear wet dog used often to describe a bad cork or “corked bottle,” manure as a positive attribute of Burgundy – not so much.
4. Is Rutherford Roulette a real game? Does it have rules other than those described in the story?
It is, indeed, a real wine tasting contest. I’ve been asked to publish a comprehensive guide with all the rules, procedures and options and may do so if requests continue. I’ve also been asked to officiate contests, which I’m willing to do in the San Francisco Bay/Wine Country area for non-profits only.
5. Did the couple in The War Of The Rosés get married?
They’re happily married with grown children and a fully stocked wine cellar.
6. Do you usually write short stories or longer works?
My focus since I started writing in 2016 is medium length fiction (about 60,000 to 90,000 words per book), with each book part of a series. Short stories in Way To Yountville were very hard to write because I wanted each story to be short enough to read in a single sitting. That doesn’t leave much time for character and plot development. My first book, A Case Of Stolen Wine and its follow up A Case Of Shared Wine are longer works looking for an agent (contact me for a synopsis if you’re an agent with interest) and are part of the Noah Lake crime thriller series. My Frank Mire political thriller series, the story of a San Francisco-based black ops team exposing political corruption, began with Desire, now available on Amazon (Kindle/paperback). Follow-ups in that series, Dance and Duty, will be out in 2018.
7. How did you prepare to become a writer?
Live, read, imagine. I’m academically behind the power curve compared to authors with degrees in literature, journalism or related studies – my degrees are a BS in Business and MBA with an emphasis in international management. My life experiences as a soldier, business manager and having lived in the divided city of Berlin for several years during the Cold War influenced my decision to write about “Spies, Crime And Always A Lot Of Wine.”
8. Which writers do you read the most or have had the most influence on your writing?
Growing up I read everything by James Michener, Earnest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut. I’m presently working on Dashiell Hammett and John Le Carré. For modern crime, I like Michael Connelly and Las Vegas Detective Bradley Nickell’s “Repeat Offender” (with Warren Jamison).
9. Do you have any special writing habits or routines?
I start with development of an extremely detailed outline. The outline has everything in it – plot and character development, chapter objectives, word count budgets, and on the last page a cast of characters with detailed descriptions of their physical and emotional features to the extent that they relate to the story. The outline is where I collect all my notes and the final version is usually 20 to 25 pages long. It is updated throughout the writing process – until I type THE END.
I try to write from 4am to 8am at least five days each week (including weekends). That provides ample opportunity for the world at large to give me grief until I crawl back into my home office, lock the door and start typing again.
10. Will there be a follow up to A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Yountville?
Too early to tell, but a half dozen stories were left out of the original that I might release in the future. My attention is currently focused on completing Dance and finding an agent to rep A Case of Stolen Wine.
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A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Yountville is now available on Amazon.com in Kindle and Paperback editions, visit my author page on Amazon: Author John Cordon.