Book Brewing 101
(with a super hot excerpt at the end)
There is a “regulation” in Germany—the Reinheitsgebot—that states:
Beer is made up 4 ingredients, and 4 ingredients ONLY:
The Germans invented the lager style of beer, using yeasts they discovered, the create a different sort of beer than had been brewed before. Ale beer was truly an ancient form of sustenance, had been around since Egyptian times and was drunk in leiu of water on many continents.
Since the advent of the “American craft beer movement” in the late ‘90s, that regulation has been thrown out the window in the quest for unique flavors and a sort of one-up-manship among the (now) thousands of brewers seeking an audience of drinkers. Everything from corriandor and orange peels, hot peppers, coffee, and chocolate to cherries, grapes, pumpkin and ginger are now added to a host of “regulation beers” (water/malt/hops/yeast) by breweries large and small. My favorite example of going off the rez with this is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Beer brewed right here in Michigan at Short’s Brewing near Traverse City.
It’s not a bad thing to add these “adjuncts” (beer jargon for “anything not water/barley/hops/yeast). Some of the create unique, well-rounded and interesting beer drinking experiences. Others are gross but fun to contemplate.
I own a craft brewery, work with brewers and beer drinkers every day. I’ve come to value the process of taking “pure beer” and rounding it out in a cool way with well-balanced and considered ingredients seeking alternatives for the many folks who pass through my Tap Room doors. It’s pretty telling that our best sellers are beers with no adjuncts—just a well blended mix of water, barley, hops and yeast. But I need a segue to my life as author so….
I’ve also written a few books. And, since I have a degree in English Lit, I’ve read a fair few as well. There is a school of thought in this business that there are only seven or so basic plots: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth. If you have some time to ponder such things, you will realize that from the Bible, through Greek plays, Shakespeare and today you can apply one or more of these to most works of literature, including popular fiction.
The fact that there are so many great books to choose from is a testament to the fact that authors take these “basics” and add their own spices, pumpkins, grapes and hot peppers to them to create a huge range of options for readers to consider. My latest release, MAN ON, is the first book in a new series set in the world of professional soccer (my first “adjunct” and a unique one as there are not a ton of these around). In it, you meet two of the players for the original Black Jack Gentlemen fictional Detroit-based expansion soccer team (in a fictional expansion pro soccer league). This is not a league of “starter-outers” or a farm team for the more established Major League Soccer teams. These are men of all ranges of experience from literally all over the world who’ve been convinced, cajoled and paid well to come and form a legit new team that can take on teams of equal or better caliber.
My second “adjunct” to this story: these men are bi-sexual. One of them, Parker Rollings, is a young man just out of college who is struggling with his sexual identity. The other, Nicco Garza is an older player from Spain who lost his super-star status when his ex-wife “outed” him.
So you have the set up for “overcoming the monster” (acceptance of yourself as a homosexual and a pro athlete—not an easy task), “the quest” (trying to create a viable new soccer team, getting a bunch of men who’ve never played together to form a cohesive group) and even “rebirth” (when Parker accepts himself as a bi-sexual man in love with another man who happens to be a teammate).
There could be tragedy of course. These men have both worked so very hard to achieve success as athletes. It is well known that the general public does not accept homosexual men on their “favorite teams” easily. So it could be that they find each other, then make a very hard decision to reject their potential private happiness in order to further the public success of their team.
Taking basic plots and adding the adjuncts of setting, characters, conflicts and resolution truly does resemble the crafting of a great beer. We all hope for more drinkers and readers thanks to our efforts. And, as with craft beer, there is nothing wrong with taking the basics of a plot and adding as many unique additions as possible to craft something interesting—or something fun (or even gross). Just remember, get it edited! We never serve a beer without a lot of sampling and tasting through the process. Yeah, that’s the fun bit.
Just doing my job, converting cover models to the light of craft beer...(I love my job most days)