I’m happy to introduce today’s guest, Howard K.
I ‘met’ Howard a little while back when he hired me to freelance edit his novel. I was a little wary after learning it was the first novel he’d ever written and that it was well over 100,000 words. However, I was pleasantly surprised once I started reading. While it needed some polishing, (as all stories do, even those from seasoned writers), it did not need a ton of reworking. The story was well written and immensely entertaining.
If you love wine and love to laugh (or if you even like ONE of those things), you’ll definitely want to check out Howard’s debut novel.
Now, let’s get to know a little more about him….
Where did you get the idea for Dial M for Merlot?
I had been a wine lover for many years, fully enjoying going to tastings, traveling to wine country destinations and attending wine themed dinner extravaganzas. In late 2007, I was diagnosed with throat cancer and had to endure surgery, radiation and chemo. I am happy to report that I bounced back and have remained cancer free since then, but for many years after, I lost all sense of taste. If you could see my wardrobe and clothing choices, you might be of the opinion that I never had any taste anyway…but that’s another story
Anyway, after a long while I was finally able to once again enjoy great wines and good times out with friends. It was at one of these wine dinners that someone suggested I write a book about the experience of being a ‘wino’, losing all sense of taste and the ability to enjoy wine, and then fully regaining my health and senses. It sounded like a good idea at the time, and I gave it try…but when I sat to write, the title “Dial M for Merlot” popped into my head and the story revealed itself to me as I typed.
What book have you read that you wish you would have written?
Tai Pan by James Clavell. I really love history and historical fiction.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it?
Well, since I’m in my fifties and this is the first book I’ve written…one would think I’ve had another occupation, but I actually haven’t had a real job in my entire life! I have been a musician since I was in my teens and I’ve spent the last 25 years composing and producing music for commercials. I’ve been very fortunate to have done work for HBO Sports, McDonald’s, The Florida Lottery, Florida Grapefruit, Ritz Carlton Hotels, about a million car dealerships. My favorite project of all time: a down home-style jingle for ‘Black Kow, the Mature Manure.’ You know you’ve arrived when you can get paid for singing about bullsh*t!
What’s your favorite childhood book?
Goodnight Moon. I loved reading this book over and over again to my two sons when they were very young, and we’ve still got the old, well-worn copy on the shelf in one of their bedrooms.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Dial M for Merlot?
A few good laughs, a smile, and hopefully, a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm for the sequel.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
I would just rather have a good review.
What is your favorite quote?
‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ Of course JFK’s iconic quote was meant to send a message to the Soviets that America would stand with Germany in the face of the communist threat to freedom and liberty, but it has a different and personal meaning for me. I lived in West Berlin for a few years before the wall came down, and from the very first moment I arrived at Tegel airport in 1982, I had the strangest and most unexpected feeling that I had come home…that I belonged in Berlin. So yes, Ich bin auch ein Berliner- – I, too, am a Berliner.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have 3 (inanimate) objects, what would they be?
A magic lantern with a Genie inside, a bottomless wine cellar and a corkscrew. The Genie would take care of everything else
What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?
Penelope Cruz. No explanation needed.
What is your favorite…
Movie For a recent release “The Way Way Back”
Music: The film score from “The Shawshank Redemption,” by Thomas Newman
Place you’ve visited: the Priorat wine region in Northern Spain
Place you’d like to visit: Burgundy, France
TV show from childhood: Get Smart
TV show from adulthood: Night Court
Food: Steak au poivre, medium rare, with a side of well done potatoes Lyonnaise, broiled asparagus and a bottle of smashing, full throttle cabernet sauvignon.
Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television?
None of the above..I’ll take a good book anytime!
Keep reading to learn more about Dial M for Merlot (Only $2.99 for ebook…Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon buy page where and find links to other outlets below)
In Vino Veritas—in wine there is truth, and the truth is that Justin James is a 30-year-old, socially inept guy who just can’t seem to get a second date. Maybe it’s because of his abiding love for all things sci-fi, including dressing up in costume at every Comic-Con® that comes to town— not exactly the universal definition of “sexy.”
One Friday night, after being stood up for the zillionth time, the lovelorn nerd wanders into a wine tasting at a local shop that opens his eyes, turns on his taste buds and totally changes his life.
Join Justin on an exhilarating, intoxicating and potentially dangerous voyage of discovery and transformation that leads him out of his shell and into the world of fine wine and fine living. From Florida to France and back, Justin discovers there is so much more to life than just Star Trek, Star Wars or Harry Potter—fun, stimulating, and seductive things like fabulous wine, fantastic food, hot sex…and murder. But not necessarily in that order.
Justin James felt the pounding in his head even before he fully regained consciousness. When he finally succeeded in prying open his hangover-heavy eyelids, the room slowly came into a blurred, topsy-turvy view of unreality.
The soft light filtering through the yellowed linen curtains suggested a peaceful post-dawn morning, but the foul taste in his mouth and the fire bubbling up in the back of his throat screamed midnight in Hell.
He slowly propped himself up on one shaky elbow and tried to rub the pain out of his brain. That wasn’t working too well. He resumed crash position and massaged his throbbing temples, struggling to remember just how he had gotten back to the house after what must have been a very long night of wine-fueled debauchery.
Yesterday evening had started on a remarkably high note; attending an invitation-only wine tasting and dinner at one of the most renowned châteaus in all of France. The gigantic, but elegant, gala was co-sponsored by the largest, most powerful wine distributor in North America—the Richard Fox Company, along with its French counterpart, Beverage DeBussey.
It was the Célébration de Vin, an event held only once every ten years, and yet, Justin and his traveling companions managed to wrangle admission. They weren’t a particularly well-connected group of important movers and shakers in the wine industry, just a small band of vino tourists on-the-loose in France for a little fine living and some excessive wine drinking, during the week of the Vin Expo trade show in Bordeaux. Their names were nowhere on the guest list. But no matter.
Right place, right time, a little language barrier misunderstanding, and voila—admittance into the wine party of the decade. In some corners of the world that would be called chutzpah, but as some pissed-off Frenchman would later remark, “Those American bastards had some big balls.” Big balls, indeed.
So there they were—rubbing elbows with some of the most well-known figures in the world of wine, all of whom Justin had never even heard of until a few months back. He watched as the guys spread out into the main tasting room, standing side-by-side with some of the rich, famous, and beautiful people he had read about here and there, but never dreamed of actually seeing in person, let alone tasting outrageously expensive wines with and then discussing their marvelous attributes. Mind blowing. Really. Mind blowing.
Yes, it had started out as a wine enthusiast’s night-of-a-lifetime, but something had gone awry. Between the pounding, the bubbling, and a fair amount of spinning, he couldn’t remember much of what had happened after those first few minutes at the Grand Tasting. How had he wound up back in his bed, wearing clothing he didn’t recognize, with a half-empty to-go box of some sort of disgusting French version of KFC planted next to his head on the pillow?
And where were the guys? He should have at least heard them snoring their brains out in the adjacent bedrooms of their rental house, but strangely, he heard … nothing. If he hadn’t been in France on a vino-expedition, he might have vowed never to drink again.
Being a novice wino was hard work.
First-time author and full-time wine enthusiast Howard K is an award winning composer and producer of music for television, film and advertising. He lives with his wife and family in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.
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