A Readers’ Guide to What and How I Write

In my small towns, something has gone terribly wrong. (Monte Dutton photos)
In my small towns, something has gone terribly wrong. (Monte Dutton photos)

If you have read any of my previous novels, you probably know how I write. I try to be realistic. I create characters, and they don’t ring true in my mind if they don’t talk and act as I imagine them doing. I don’t much care about writing about the exalted classes, having never spent much time mingling among them. My writing isn’t inspirational. It isn’t uplifting. It can be gritty. I write about characters young and old, but I don’t write for characters young and old. You should exercise your own judgment before you expose my novels to potential readers for whom it might be inappropriate.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Movies offer standards to guide patrons. My novels are R-rated. They have more than ample quantities of sex, violence, profanity, drug use, and crime, and that’s just in the first few pages. The protagonists are deeply flawed, and the antagonists are often deeply evil. My central thesis is that the world has few saints and few sinners. Most people fall in between. My bad guys (and gals) are badder than the good guys are good, so I suppose I err on the side of the bad.

I do think my heroes are likable. I consider Riley Mansfield, the pot-smoking, authority-resisting singer-songwriter in The Audacity of Dope, an imaginary friend. I think of him often. He amuses me. I probably wouldn’t be a bachelor if I’d ever met a woman I love as much as Melissa Franklin, Riley’s lover and girl Friday.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I expect the most admirable character in my books is Coach Reese Knighton of The Intangibles. The most despicable is Denny Frawley, the ambitious monster of Forgive Us Our Trespasses. I haven’t mellowed. Trespasses is my harshest work yet.

My personal opinion is that readers 16 and above are mostly ready to read what I write. In fact, I think they’d get some good out of it. My characters’ actions are not without consequences. It’s not my call, though. Nor should it be.

For fair warning regarding my new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, I submit the review submitted on Amazon by fellow author Joseph Souza:

 

                I read Dutton’s previous novel, Crazy of Natural Causes. It was an expansive and yet rambling novel about football, drugs, and with a vague notion of religiosity. Chance Benford was an opportunist posing as a moral man. While entertaining and witty, the novel took off on some strange tangents that made it an eclectic read.

                Now here we have Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Dutton’s new novel about political ambition, greed and corruption. What to make of this sordid but compelling tale? Set in steamy South Carolina, we follow the antics of Solicitor Denny Frawley and his uber-dysfunctional family. His eye is on Attorney General. But when the governor is caught buying coke at a football game, Denny sets his drug-induced sights on the Governorship.

                Then the fun begins.

                Everyone in this novel, even the good guys, are dependent on either drugs or alcohol — often times both. The bad guys, of which there are many, and in cahoots, are the worst. Denny Frawley is a coke-sniffing, philandering, murderous and corrupt monster who has ruined lives. His wife is in an alcoholic stupor. His son and daughters are sex and drug addicts. His underlings are happy to be violent criminals. Frawley runs motorcyclists off the road for fun and enjoyment (the biker dies). What a lovely and upbeat backdrop for a novel. And yet despite this, Denny still wants to be governor, and must keep everything under wraps until he wins the election.

                Dutton has written a dreary but compelling southern tale about greed and corruption. His language is tough and authentic, and what I like about this novel is that he doesn’t shy away from using politically incorrect dialogue. The n-word is frequently used. Overt racism seems the norm in this part of South Carolina. It feels vaguely outdated, from a bygone era when civil rights ceased to exist. There’s sex and gay sex, some of it violent. Someone, presumably someone from Thuglife, is saying bad things about Frawley over the Internet. The plot of this novel is much tighter than Crazy, and Dutton forges ahead with this tragedy until its sad and surprising denouement.

                Be forewarned: this is hard-hitting, dark and often depressing. But that’s the quality I like most about it, and a quality that the author was trying to achieve. Dutton never checks his PC meter at the door. He grips it and rips it in a careless but controlled manner, allowing his maniacal characters to act out their most violent fantasies in the most roguish manner. Even the good guys are messed-up and damaged by the end of this perilous ride. No, they’re messed up before it, as well.

                If you like your crime novels gritty, depressing, drugged-out and with a good dose of sodomy and violence, you’ll surely enjoy Forgive Us Our Trespasses. But to be sure, I don’t think even God could see it to forgive these lowlife bastards. Highly recommended!

 

I love this review. An author, or at least this one, drifts away from his work while it’s being edited, designed, produced, and promoted. He moves on to other projects. I’ve got two brand-new books on the market at the same time. My collection of short stories, Longer Songs, has been out, at this writing, for all of two days. I know for a fact it has earned upwards of $4.81 in royalties (yes, it’s early).

When I read a review like Mr. Souza’s, my first reaction is that this guy knows more about my novel than I do. I find myself saying “oh, yeah” several times.

(Graphic by Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic by Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

This morning I’ve been working on preparing Crazy of Natural Causes for a print version. I hope all issues are now resolved. That way I can get back to what will be my fifth novel, a modern western titled Cowboys Come Home. The home is Texas, and they’ve come home from World War II, only to find trouble again. The first draft is hanging out there, two chapters from completion, waiting for me to return. I’m going to Texas soon. I’m liable to find something out there that will help, even seventy years later.

When The Intangibles was released, a man approached me uptown and said he’d read it. He wasn’t smiling.

“With the education you got, you don’t have to write stuff like that,” he said.

He was an elderly man. I told him I respected his view, but that, when I created characters, they didn’t ring true in my mind unless they talked and acted the way the way I imagined. They come unglued if I can’t get inside their minds and report what I find there. He said he wished folks didn’t carry on that way nowadays, and he specifically mentioned kids wearing their “dungarees” tightened up around the middle of their asses. (Yes, he used the word “ass,” and I dutifully cringed.)

I didn’t apologize. He read the novel of his own free will. I guess he was shocked that a nice fellow such as I could write about people he found vulgar and without grace. I told him I respected his view and was sorry he didn’t enjoy my work. We’re still friendly acquaintances, so I guess it satisfied him even though he didn’t approve.

It’s hard to judge whether civilization is rising or falling. I thought about it driving home.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

On the one hand, people didn’t carry on like that in the old days. On the other hand, if an African American had worn his dungarees in such a manner in the old days, he might have been lynched and hung. I don’t see much difference between the rotgut moonshine the man recalls with good humor now and the weed characters in my novel smoke, and, all in all, I don’t see much moral superiority in the bygone days. Mine aren’t as bygone as that gentleman’s, but I saw some frightening events in my youth. Some of them influenced The Intangibles.

If I’m going to run my engine wide open writing, I can’t afford to slap rev limiters on it. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m just saying it can’t be done by me.

I reckon I’m as set in my ways as that fellow uptown.

 

By the way, give Joseph Souza’s new novel a look-see: http://www.amazon.com/Need-Find-You-Joseph-Souza-ebook/dp/B01BFZJV6M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460045400&sr=1-1&keywords=Need+to+find+you

My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is available now: http://www.amazon.com/Forgive-Our-Trespasses-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B0192I3Q1K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458228862&sr=1-1&keywords=Monte+Dutton+Forgive+Us+Our+Trespasses

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

So is my collection of short stories, Longer Songs: http://www.amazon.com/Longer-Songs-Collection-Short-Stories/dp/1530857627/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460045659&sr=1-1&keywords=Longer+Songs+Monte+Dutton

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a crime novel about corruption and patronage in a small town. The tale unfolds across two generations at the same time.

 As you may have noticed, I use these blogs as a promotional tool for my novels. One, Crazy of Natural Causes, has been out since late July of 2015. If you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate you considering it. It’s a freewheeling fable on the absurdity of life.

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. The Audacity of Dope, which is about a pot-smoking folksinger who becomes a national hero, was published in 2011. The Intangibles, published in 2013, is an historical novel about desegregation in the South, circa 1968. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1

My nonfiction, much of which involves sports, is on display here: http://montedutton.com/

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50. Look for me by name at Google+.

 

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