Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lou Berney

From a Q & A with Lou Berney, author of the new novel, Gutshot Straight:

What does the title of the novel mean?

“Gutshot straight” is a poker hand where you have to draw a single card rank (e.g, a nine) to make a straight. It’s usually a pretty reckless gamble, which accurately describes what the main characters in my novel are prone to. And they're not generally very successful at going "straight," get it? I’m not sure why this kind of poker straight is called a “gutshot.” Either because the stress of anticipation as you're waiting for that last long-shot card makes you feel like you’ve been shot in the gut, or the miraculous landing of the straight makes your opponent feel that way.

The original title for my novel was TRUST ME, but another novel came out with that title so we had to switch. I came up with a bunch of alternatives that my editor – the wonderful Peggy Hageman at William Morrow – gently shot down. It was the sales staff at Morrow who came up with the final title, and I thought it fit great.

Are any of the characters in the novel based on real people?

A couple. One of the characters, I’m not going to say which one, is based almost entirely on my wife. Another character – Dick “the Whale” Moby, murderous Las Vegas strip club owner – was inspired by a real-life strip club owner I encountered several years ago. That’s a funny but deeply-harrowing-at-the-time story I am not prepared to tell at this time.

How did you choose Panama for one of the settings?

I decided...[read on]
Visit Lou Berney's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue