Mystery author L.A. Kornetsky shares why a bar setting can be a key influence for a writer, especially for her Gin & Tonic series! Her latest, Doghouse, is available now – and don’t miss the first installments, Collared and Fixed.
In my GIN & TONIC INVESTIGATIONS mystery series, Ginny Mallard is a private concierge, solving peoples’ problems for money, while her partner Theodore (“Teddy”) Tonica is a bartender, used to listening to people pour out their woes, and giving advice. They never intended to get into the sideline of solving crime, but people in trouble keep finding them….
Because, of course, where do people go when they have troubles? All right, after the therapist, but before the cops?
That’s right – a bar.
Disclaimer: I have a reputation for being A Drinker. This is one of those cases where the reputation is more observed than actual. I am often found in a bar, because that is where writers congregate, and I am very fond of a good drink (good wine by preference, then single malt whiskies, followed in favor by a nice dark beer). However, I’m often holding that same drink thirty minutes later, because for me, a bar isn’t a place to get drunk – it’s a place to listen.
You hear all sorts of stories in bars. Sometimes they’re true confessions. Sometimes they’re outrageous lies. Often, they’re a blend of both. Sometimes they’re being told to you from someone leaning forward, a soft voice meant only for you, and sometimes they’re shouted to the entire bar, exuberant – if sometimes uninvited – sharing. People let down their guard after a few drinks, share things with strangers they couldn’t tell their nearest and dearest.
And all you have to do, to be a good New Friend, is listen. Well, listen, and don’t judge. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds (and let’s be honest, it doesn’t sound easy). But if you’re looking to understand people, to see what makes them tick, someone with a glass in their hand is a textbook.
(For the first few glasses, anyway. After that, you get the sloppy stories, and it’s time to call them a cab. Or point them toward Ginny and Tonica, to solve their larger problems).
Some people listen because they’re naturally curious, like giving advice, or take comfort in hearing other peoples’ problems. But for a writer, even if the former are all true, there’s also the nature of the beast lurking: we make shit up out of what we steal (ahem, sorry: borrow).
So yeah, get a bunch of writers in a bar, and you’ll often get a roundtable of snark and wit – or what we hope is snark and wit, anyway – each trying to outdo the other. But a writer alone, or with non-writer companions? We’re more likely to be quiet, leaning forward to hear, or learning back to invite confidences.
Because, while a writer creates the story, we mix it from many different bottles….