Look at us.
I mean me, really. Trudging along on the great grey highway of life, face forward, eyes front, doing my best to be good, fit in, work hard and obey the rules…and then YOU come along.
By you, I mean Mike B Good, the author of Breaking Good and other subversive texts. According to Mike, there’s Another Way to Be. At least, there was in the 70s, when even cheesecloth flares were kinda ok. So just for a little while, I allowed myself to fall under the spell of Mike’s seditious but oh so seductive wiles…
Rose: So Mike…you and your main character share the same name. Which leads me to wonder (without totally dropping you in it, given that your hero is engaged in a business which, not to put too fine a point on it, is against the law) how autobiographical is your writing? Are you actually a mild mannered accountant in real life, or…?
It’s no coincidence that the main character shares my name, Rose, and the autobiographical element is all too real. I really did grow up like a veal (I’ve never heard this phrase!) in the 50’s and 60’s, raised by arch-conservatives and big fans of the evil President Nixon. I listened to folk music, I played golf, I was totally lame. (Not as lame as me. I can’t play golf, even.) I was academic, a nerd on the fast track for law school and the American Dream. Then I started college, turned on, and saw the light. There was more to life than working overtime, overextending credit cards and paying my bitter ex-wife alimony. With my enhanced worldview, I aspired instead to a life of fun and adventure. Unfortunately, I had no talents, no direction, and no juicy trust fund to make that a reality—it looked like the dreaded American Dream for me. With only a couple months to go before graduation, I was freaking out. But then my college pot connection came back from Hawaii with Kona Gold, “the world’s best pot.” Also, to drop out of grad school, grab his stuff, and move to Kona to grow da kine. Just like that, I saw a way out of my dilemma. If Lizardo could follow his dream, why couldn’t I? Well, there were those pesky drug laws. Was a life of fun and adventure worth a little risk? I had to find out. So, to finally answer your question, yeah, my books are based on real life misadventures, and were originally written as journals during my travels.
Rose: I think both of us have written books that reveal a lot about us,. Not all of it would pass the ‘respectable enough to work at IBM’ test. So how do you feel about the potential for your readers to make judgements about you as the author, as opposed to reacting simply to your fictional characters? (My readers, for instance, might think that I’m a self involved, promiscuous liar, and they would be right). What are the key differences – in personality, lifestyle, attitudes etc – between you and your hero?
Funny that you chose IBM as an example. I remember my college guidance counselor telling me, “You want to get a job with IBM? You need to cut your hair, straighten up, and fly right.” The same thing my parents drilled into me, so no, I wouldn’t pass the IBM test. Nor did I want to wear a suit and tie and act like everyone else. As far as being judged, I’ve always enjoyed my own sense of humor, but then I’m biased, so I’m comfortable with my character resembling me in real life. Not everyone else has enjoyed my humor or my snarky comments, but those are mostly the conservatives that I’ve been battling all my life (Fox News viewers and such), so I don’t worry about them. I think the people who get past the first few chapters in my stories will be copasetic readers, people who enjoy a good laugh and a different perspective on the world we live in. Otherwise, they’ll have closed the book by then. (Let’s just say, Jeff Sessions, our Attorney General, is not a big fan of my crusade for personal liberties.) I’d say the key differences in my character and the real me aren’t in personality, lifestyle, or attitude—except for protecting the guilty, I tell it almost like it is—or was. I am just as irreverent and sarcastic in real life, but I am much less confrontational than in my books, where I’m able to speak the things that go on in my mind, rather than hold them back to avoid conflict. The freedom to really express myself is a big part of what makes writing so much fun.
Is the Hawaiian rainforest really dotted with covert marijuana plantations?
Oh yes, it sure is, though much more so in the good old days. What with the helicopters full of flying narcs, things have changed, and a lot of growers have moved indoors. Which, to me, is a real travesty. To live in the Garden of Eden, and have to hide under a roof? That seems so wrong. They’ve finally approved medical marijuana in the Islands, but not recreational. Hopefully, things will continue in the right direction, but until the Feds get on board, I won’t be happy. Neither will all the people invested in the so-called legal pot business. Same with everyone who lives in an unenlightened state. In a world of overprescribed painkillers, rampant alcoholism, not to mention, heroin and meth epidemics, why is marijuana, proven to be so helpful for so many, still a scourge with some people? Here I’m talking about you, Jeff Sessions. You and all the spineless politicians afraid to do the right thing. Pot laws are crazy and need to change. Sorry, Rose, I feel strongly about this, so it’s easy to get on a rant. (Me too. How much is a plane ticket to Hawaii, again?)
Rose: What’s the best joke you ever heard? Failing that, tell me about tweakers and your one-legged neighbour….do you happen to live in the Appalachians, by any chance?
I love jokes, but I can’t remember them. Which is good, ‘cause when I hear them again, I get another laugh. At a dinner party with my Jewish girlfriend Betty years ago, her family was taking turns telling jokes. When it was my turn, I could only remember one joke, and only because I’d just heard it that day. Also, given the present company, it seemed kind of topical. It went like this: “What’s the difference between a Jewish American princess and Jello?” At first, I didn’t notice the narrowed eyes of her parents and sisters, but when I moved to the punch line, “Jello moves when you. . .,” Betty’s kick to my shin warned me my joke was inappropriate and to shut the hell up. Moves when you make love to it? But who makes love to Jello? I’m better with telling stories than jokes, but where do I start with my one-legged neighbor Jesus the tweaker (aka entrepreneur who steals electric lines for the copper!!) ? I didn’t realize he only had one leg till I saw him fall off his bike one morning. As he struggled to get up, I realized he only had one and a half legs. The other half was lying on the ground. Which seemed really weird until I realized it was a prosthetic. He stood there screaming at it before picking up, hopping back home, and attacking it with his machete. While he got revenge on his treasonous leg, another tweaker (from down the block stole Jesus’ bicycle. Now the two tweakers are at war. Jesus got revenge by reporting Tweaker #2 to the police, while Tweaker #2 responded by breaking into Jesus’ place and stealing his crutches. With no prosthesis or crutches, Jesus now gets around in a wheelchair, which he rides in reverse, using ski poles to move himself along. Find out more about the Tweaker Wars here.
I’m intending to get properly into drugs in my eighties…what do I have to look forward to? No really - what’s on the menu, and what’s it going to do for me, and will I like it?
Depending on what drugs you plan to get into, it’ll be great! Otherwise, I’d have stopped getting high decades ago. For a beginner, I’d go with pot. In fact, as a veteran, I’d go with pot. Some people don’t like the effects, they get too self-conscious, sometimes a little paranoid, but I call those people “unlucky.” For most users, the relaxing effects help you deal with life’s stress, see things on a more humorous note. Which is why it’s so much fun to read stuff like ours when high. All I can say is, why wait till your 80? Because by that time I will have worked out what to call it. Every time I talk about ‘dope’ or ‘hash’ my kids fall about laughing.
The war on drugs is the most idiotic thing since prohibition, in my opinion. I can’t see why it’s anybody else’s business what I put up my nose (only my finger, usually) any more than what I eat (a lot of vegemite, for your information). Agree or disagree?
I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’ve been fighting a war on the war on the drugs all these years. At least the one on pot. Don’t tell anyone, but my Uncle Dick (AKA: President Nixon) started the War on Drugs in ‘71 after catching me turning on my cousins Trish and Julie—something I deeply regret and feel obligated to correct. After all, until some ill-conceived legislation in the 30’s, pot has been legal since the beginning of time. Humans have used it forever. And really, if we weren’t supposed to enjoy marijuana, why do we have THC receptors in our brains? I gotta say, I find it ironic I live in the only era it’s been illegal—and not in a humorous way. Make donuts illegal, I say. Look at all the harm they do!
I understand you have a direct line to the President. Can you tell us anything about him the public don’t already know (apart from the fact that he loves watersports, porn stars, McDonalds, and has big, erm…hands).
I can tell you that almost everything he tweets is a lie, but you already know that. Let’s see, what dirt can I spill that won’t land me in Guantanamo? Okay, here’s something. It might not be big news on a national level, but the guy cheats at golf, gives himself every putt within six feet. At least his Secret Service caddy Dirk does. And yet, the Donald makes the rest of us putt everything out. Even 6-inch gimmees. That’s how big a dick he is. This drives me up the wall. Worse, the Donald insists I ride in his cart and listen to him tell me how great a golfer he is. On the other hand, he spills all kinds of dirt. Dirt I’d love to share with you, Rose, but I gotta hold it back for negotiating purposes if I want to keep the world safe from our president. Hang on a second, I think I hear someone knocking on the door. Oh shit, it’s Colonel Buzzkill from the NSA Goon Squad. Did I reveal too much? Sorry, Rose, gotta run, and I mean that literally. . .
You can find Mr Good’s works here. For the next month, I’ll be interviewing some funny but seriously weird authors who’ve joined with me to give away Eight Hilarious Reads and a Bestseller. The bestseller is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, and it ‘s just as good as Reese Witherspoon says it is, so if you want to win, head on over.