Terrible Accents, Hokey Gunfights, and Ladies in Ridiculous Dresses - Skunks Dance with St. John Karp

Everyone once in awhile, we receive a request from an author or publicist that is just too dang intriguing to pass up. When Skunks Dance showed up, a novel that starts with the line, "Spivey Spillane's grandmammy always said there were only two good reasons to kill a man -- for cheating on a woman, and for serving drinks to a Yankee," I couldn't wait to dive in. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my dramatic readings of the book where I was laughing so much I could hardly keep it together. I am such a fan of the camp!

Naturally, I wanted to hear about the inspiration from St. John Karp. Hang for the guest post and check out Skunks Dance, out today! I dare you to watch the book trailer without laughing. DARE YOU.

"Skunks Dance" Book Trailer from St John on Vimeo.

Writing for Vampires By St. John Karp 

I used to know a Twilight fan who hated Twilight. She read every single book so she could point out how Stephenie Meyer hadn’t done any research on vampires at all. I said, “You know vampires aren’t real, right? If it’s all made up anyway, she can write what she likes.” But she wouldn’t listen — she had to be offended on behalf of all the vampires who felt their culture had been misrepresented. 

I feel the same way about Westerns as I do about Twilight. Bugger accuracy. For my money I want terrible accents, hokey gunfights, and ladies in ridiculous dresses. That’s the Old West I put in my novel Skunks Dance, which is half set in the California Gold Rush in about 1851. I deliberately didn’t do any research, but I did watch a bunch of British-made Westerns, which are brilliant and awful and stupid and wonderful, and if you think Americans have a monopoly on bad British accents, you haven’t heard the British do a bad American accent. 

The entire Old West half of the novel was never even meant to happen. I started writing a prologue set in the Old West and then brought the narrative forward to the present, but it was just too much fun writing nonsensical old-timey shenanigans. There aren’t many hard rules about writing, but the one I know for sure is this: if you’re not having fun writing something, then you have no right to expect people to have fun reading it. If writing something is too much fun to stop, then you should saddle up that pony and ride it into town. I’d planned a ton of crime fiction intrigue to occupy our protagonists in the present as they set fire to cars and attack FedEx workers with a candy Batman, but I hadn’t planned the Old West bits at all — I could let it get as strange as it liked. 

The one thing I did really try to get accurate was character dynamics that don’t fall into stupid gender conventions. I wanted female characters and gay characters who interact with each other the way my friends do, not like they do in tired sitcoms and movies that have had so much character edited out that they couldn’t offend anyone at all. In the present our heroes Amanda and Jet have absolutely no interest in each other — they’re each the protagonist of their own story in which the other is only an annoyance. In the past we have Jackie, who has no interest in love or marriage but does like to grope pretty men. They’re people that felt real to me, but which I hadn’t seen very often in other media — and that has to be a good thing. But outside of that, I can do without the fetish for accuracy. If anyone from 1851 feels hard done by and wants to complain, they have my email address.

San Francisco writer ST JOHN KARP is an ornamental hermit who likes to live near exciting things so he cannot go to them. He has an undying love for the unusual, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and toast. His debut novel, RADIUM BABY, released in 2013. SKUNKS DANCE, Karp’s second novel, releases Jan. 24, 2017. For more information, visit https://www.fuzzjunket.com/.

by St. John Karp
Published: January 24th 2017
Publisher: Remora House

Spivey Spillane's grandmammy always said there were only two good reasons to kill a man -- for cheating on a woman, and for serving drinks to a Yankee. She may have had a hand in winning the Revolutionary War, but even she never met the likes of Alabama Sam. Sam robs a bank under Spillane's name, casts him in an obscene one-man play wearing only a pink tutu, and starts a betting pool on how many wieners he has. Despite the indignities Spillane suffers, he chases Sam across Gold-Rush-era California because Sam is the only one who knows the location of a hidden fortune buried somewhere in the hills.

Meanwhile in the present, seventeen-year-olds Amanda and Jet have rekindled an old childhood rivalry. Amanda is obsessed with finding the treasure of her infamous ancestor Spivey Spillane. Jet and Amanda's feud comes to a head over an extended incident involving a broken window, an exploded car, and a charge of sexual assault with a candy Batman. Jet vows that he is going to find to Spillane's gold before Amanda does, but it doesn't take them long to realize that someone may have come this way already -- someone who wants the past to stay buried.

Inspired by the rickety world of 1960s British-made Westerns, SKUNKS DANCE is a tale of revenge, greed, and men in tutus.

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