This is your man in Clearwater, reporting live from the front lines, with a keyboard and a kindle and a cigar and a cat. Three months now I've been officially a citizen of the Sunshine State - not just one of those supercilious snowbirds - and like my associate J.T. Dockery says, lately I've been too busy leading the life to write about it. I spent the first two months on a tour of duty in Jacksonville, but during that time made many jaunts and expeditions to points like Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra, Tallahassee, Ocala, Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa, Ybor, Palmetto, St. Pete, Pass-a-Grille, Gulfport, Gainesville, my beloved St. Augustine, and my home base on Perico Island.
I've also begun taking on a whole raft of new business opportunities and responsibilities, which is needless to say biting off far more than I can chew but I'd rather throw 1000 rusty darts at the carnival balloon than two sharp ones. I don't have any tattoos, but I did, I might get Han Solo's "Never tell me the odds" rendered on my bicep. Some of it is related to PR work, some of it the ignoble pursuit of law which I find myself sucked back into no matter how hard I try to disengage, some it relating to theatre, the JSH Book Club and my any-minute-now-wait-for-it Tiki Bar concept, The Pulcova Club. Most of the rest is classified but you can easily obtain security clearance by buying me a Mai Tai at Roy's.
Many theories have been put forward about what makes Florida so special. Some say it's the fragmentary diversity of its people, others say it's simply the fact that so many Floridians are not actually originally from here and the resultant morphic field is always in flux. Me, I think it's something far older, something under the soil, something that happened long, long ago in an unspeakably antediluvian age. But the "specialness" is real, it is palpable, it is even measurable by laboratory equipment. So here I am, wandering these swamps and sandy back roads, trying to define that elusive energy, in search of answers. Or at least smokes. I came to Interzone for the cigars, really.
As compared to back home, the cost of living in Florida is equally fragmentary. Some supermarket items are exorbitant compared to what I would have paid at my old Middletown Kroger, while others are astonishing in their inexpensiveness. And the staggering variety of exotic foods here, even at the most mundane grocery, makes you realize you're not in Kentucky anymore, Krampus. And recently at the farmers market portion of the Beach Blvd. Flea Market in Jacksonville, my appropriation of William S. Burroughs' term "Interzone" to describe Florida (he used it to describe Tangier) seemed all the more apt with its scores of vendors of Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Indian, Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Honduran, and Arab extraction all talking over each other, beckoning to passersby, hawking all manner of mysterious goods day in and out. It was here I recently scored some mamey fruit from an Asian woman who corrected my pronunciation (it's meh-MAY) and showed me which specimens were the choicest. "This one, you eat tomorrow", she said, ever so slightly applying pressure to the fruit as she held it in her hand, and "this one another week", tapping a firmer one with her long paisley enamel decorated fingernail. Other vendors sold products I couldn't even identify, and still others sold such exotica as Santeria paraphenalia and live giant snakes and lizards; presumably for pet purposes, we hope, and not for eating.
Meanwhile, the next installment of the JSH Book Club, the science fiction epic Solar Station A, was supposed to come out "in late summer", then was pushed to September. October's nearly over and the book, you may have noticed, has not yet appeared on Kindle shelves worldwide. One of the good things about calling the shots of your own book distribution is the ability to extend your own deadlines infinitely, or even just throw up your hands and say, "you know what? It'll be out when it comes out." The book is turning out to be a lot longer than I'd originally intended (for those of you who said they wished my previous novels were longer, be careful what you wish for) and so I'm taking my own sweet time on baking this biscuit till it's brown. Therefore, the other novel I've been working on, a story of boxing and voodoo set in the 1920s entitled The Alternation of Night and Day, will come out this winter, pushing the book originally scheduled for December, Matilda Heron, to next year. Unless I end up packing up my ukelele and moving to the Dry Tortugas or Bimini or something and disappear into a cask of rum for tax purposes. But even from there, I'll tweet you a copy of the report.