People often ask where I get the ideas for my books. It’s not an easy question. They can come from anywhere. I got the idea for Free Booze Tonight at the Hollywood Bowl.
I still remember the moment, but couldn’t tell you if I was listening to Beethoven or The Beach Boys. That’s more a comment on how fickle inspiration can be than on the quality of the performance.
I often struggle for days to come up with a good line so when the first sentence of Free Booze Tonight popped into my head it was really a moment worth remembering.
As I listened to the music that night, the next line came and then the next. The book just flowed.
When I actually started writing, I just made the story up as I went along. I had no idea what was coming next. With every other novel I’d written, I started with an outline. Not this one.
Oddly enough, though, I did know exactly how the book was going to end. All I had to do was figure out what should happen during the 300 or so pages in between.
I’d never tried humor before and after about 60 pages I began to wonder if anyone else would enjoy the book. (Perhaps my very modest level of previous success should haven been a hint that it was time to try something new.)
I put the book aside until my writing coach, Wayne Johnson, suggested I take a stab at a humorous novel. I already had 60 pages of Free Booze Tonight and only needed another 250, so I started writing again.
In the end it took somewhere between 18 months and two years to finish. I’ve never had as much fun writing a novel. I don’t work from an outline anymore, either.
We renew our Hollywood Bowl tickets every year. I tell myself I’m going to the bowl to hear great music in a great setting. That’s true, too, although I can’t help hoping that another great idea will just pop into my head. It hasn’t happened, but I keep listening. Bach, Beethoven, the Beach Boys, it doesn’t really matter, I’m ready.