I am excited to welcome author, Todd Grimson, who is celebrating the release of his novel, Brand New Cherry Flavor.
In a world of Hollywood’s panderers, philanderers, has-beens, and sycophants, aspiring screenwriter and director Lisa Nova considers herself a rising star who can transcend the lies, cheating, and hypocrisy for the sake of her art. When she is coldly betrayed by one leering producer too many, she returns to Boro, the enigmatic leader of a local biker gang, to exact vengeance – and she gets more than she bargained for. It begins with the strange tattoos that appear overnight on her skin like stigmata, followed by the hallucinations of ancient cults of the undead. Lisa soon finds herself contending with white jaguars and cannibalistic demons rising from the grave, and the lines between dreams and reality quickly dissolve in this surreal and exhilarating blend of satire and the macabre.
Someone asked me recently: What are some of the things about the things about Brand New Cherry Flavor which few outsiders know?
OK. Here’s one thing which in the end may be profound. The secret weapon in that novel is the police. Lisa Nova’s relationship with the cops – both good and bad – helps both move the plot forward and keep it on track once the basic questions being asked are on display.
Homicide detectives Bluestone and Brown ask out loud the questions about what’s going on which the reader is asking while (hopefully) gripped by and caught up in the plot. They spell things out. They ask “What the hell is going on?” Then when they try to answer these questions it brings things down to earth.
Because I’m interested, both here and in my novel Stainless, in being as realistic as possible. Yes. I’m not interested in the incredible if it’s sheerly incredible, if it’s fantastic, if it doesn’t seem to make any sense. No. When the events are both incredible and yet work, make sense in the common-sense ordinary reality we all share and live in every day… that’s when the mystery is much more intense for me than if it’s just special-effects demons flying through the air.
This doesn’t mean, obviously, that I’m going to avoid what life is like when you’re in a dream. That dream-reality, however you try to blink it away or dismiss it when you wake up, is made out of the same stuff as any memory you may hold onto of your life, the neurons compose the same kind of inner cinema – which when you’re on your death-bed may well be all you have left of the life you’ve lived on earth.
Just so, how you exist in other people’s memories will be all that’s left of you when you are dead. When everyone has forgotten you then you no longer exist.
I want the reader to generate an inner film when they read Brand New Cherry Flavor, an inner film which they can inhabit and walk around in and remember later on. That’s how it existed for me when I wrote it and that’s what I want to experience whenever I read something intense.
Here again is where the cops come in. While I was working nights in the Emergency Room, we saw so many victims of violent crime that we also came to know well all the local cops. One homicide detective was in love with one of our nurses, so he came in all the time. Others came in as needed, or just to hang out. I heard a lot of their stories, and gradually became familiar with how cops in general view the world.
I’m sure I sought to emulate this certain brand of “cool” as I dealt with the people who came in bleeding or crazy or… telling me something I’d never heard about before.
I remember a prostitute who told me – and I was out there alone with her, I had to listen, there was no one else around – about how in her candle-lit bedroom Johnny was sometimes hiding in the closet, she knew he heard everything she was doing with the men in her bed. And he had an axe.
She was kind of sexy, messy-cut dark blond hair with bangs, dressed in a wine red dress and ripped black nylons so that no one could avoid viewing the white flesh of her thighs. The nurses didn’t like her much. On her way out, after having had some laceration in her arm sewn up, she stopped by to leave me a very tightly-folded ten dollar bill. I didn’t realize then just what it was. I was busy with a nineteen year old black girl whose boyfriend had smashed her front teeth back up into her palate, who was crying – while trying not to – and could not speak. She was accompanied by an older friend.
I only unfolded the wad of ancient, ancient money maybe an hour later. Michelle, the nurse who was nearby, laughed and said, “She left you a tip.” I didn’t know what to do with it.
Then the boyfriend of the nineteen year old black girl came in looking for her. He said he was her husband but we knew he was not. I stood there in the hall so that he would not attempt to search our rooms. No security guard was in the vicinity. The guy lost his temper at Michelle and then focused on me.
The cops were on their way.
Meet Todd Grimson!
Todd Grimson was born in 1952 in Seattle and moved to Portland, Oregon at an early age. At the age of 22, having gone through all kinds of dead-end employment, Grimson took a civil service exam and ended up working at the VA Hospital in its surgical intensive care unit, which he found highly educational. He went on to work nightshift in the emergency room at Emanuel Hospital, where most local victims of violent crime were seen—an intense experience informing his first novel, “Within Normal Limits,” which he wrote under the mentorship of Paul Bowles, whom he had met and studied with during a summer writing workshop in Tangier, Morocco. Published in the prestigious “Vintage Contemporaries” series as a trade paperback original, “Within Normal Limits” earned critical acclaim and was the winner of the Oregon Book Award in 1988.
It was shortly before the publication of this first novel that Grimson was first
diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable, degenerative disease. However, his symptoms went away and did not reappear until the summer of 1991. Stricken suddenly, housebound and incapacitated, Grimson found himself having vivid and surreal dreams, which later became the source and literally a part of the novel, “Brand New Cherry Flavor,” which blends this phantasmagorical dreamscape with the innovation of “cinematic realism.” Critically acclaimed both in the US and in the UK, this novel was followed by “Stainless” (Schaffner Press: Feb. 2012), an urban noir vampire novel set in late 1990’s L.A.
In recent years, Grimson has been writing and publishing short fiction online under the nom de plume “I. Fontana,” appearing in such literary reviews as BOMB, Bikini Girl, Juked, New Dead Families, Spork, Lamination Colony and Spork, while working on a new novel, “sickgirl101,” a thriller which delves into the online Alt Sex underworld, exploring and exposing the darker side of contemporary sexuality as perhaps no one else has done before.