books

Eye of the Diamond-T Print

Congrats to the Winner, and Another Chance to Win!

The winner of the March Goodreads giveaway has been selected!

Eye of the Diamond-T Print

Jamie Lamb of Anchorage: enjoy your signed softcover copy of Eye of the Diamond-T, headed your way soon! Thanks for playing.

For the rest of you out there, you have a shot this month at another copy. Enter by clicking below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eye of the Diamond-T by Bill LaBrie

Eye of the Diamond-T

by Bill LaBrie

Giveaway ends April 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Meet the Author on Saturday, and Get Free Stuff (Maybe)!

I’ll be joining Isa Jones, my favorite British/Mexican book publicist LIVE tomorrow at 1:30PM EST for a celebration of her blog‘s one year anniversary!

isaheader

Click this image to join the Facebook event Saturday 3/28

Join the Facebook online extravaganza featuring a lot of authors with a lot of books featuring heaving bosoms and defined, sweating pecs.

Then, there’s me!

I’ll be posing questions, answering questions, sharing intimate details, and stirring up trouble. I’ll also be giving stuff away. Join the event and watch the posts roll by. Jump in when you like!

Also, speaking of “giving stuff away,” you still have a few days to enter my book giveaway on Goodreads. Enter to win a free, signed copy of Diamond-T delivered to anywhere in any of these 50 United States. Enter the contest below.

And no matter what you do this weekend, please try to remember to have a great one!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eye of the Diamond-T by Bill LaBrie

Eye of the Diamond-T

by Bill LaBrie

Giveaway ends March 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I Want my Kid to Catch on Fire

Looking back on it, I owe a lot to the February, 1981 issue of Motor Trend.

Motor_Trend_Magazine-1981-February
I
 had just turned twelve. As a homeschooled sixth-grader I had perfected the art of doing as little as possible while still more-or-less keeping up with assignments. Literature and social sciences did nothing for me. Math? Let’s not get started on math.

I was wallowing.

Scratch that: I was sinking.

Then, I found that my mom had subscribed me (probably through Publisher’s Clearing House) to Motor Trend. One day the mail brought the issue in the picture above.

And my life would never be the same.

I read every article, every ad, and every letter to the editor. I memorized every specification of every car reviewed. I jotted down notes. I made a trip the the local library to dig into past issues. I started reading other car rags, giving them the same studious attention.

I was on fire.

Suddenly, it all made sense–all of the scholarly subjects. My vocabulary started growing because I wanted to understand the shadings of grown-up words. Articles on the United Auto Workers made me curious about unions and why they mattered. I wanted to know what a government-backed bailout was. Math suddenly seemed valuable. If I wanted to figure what gear ratio would be necessary to make a ’68 Camaro with a blown 427 top 200 MPH, I needed to know math. That. . . that. . . was what math was for!

But my inquiry didn’t stay isolated the world of cars. No! Soon, I started reading everything I could. Everything related back to the automotive world in some way.  Dante’s rings of hell obviously had inspired the design of the engine mounts on a Euro-market 1983 Ford Sierra. What other remote associations could I find? I needed to know more. I could sense my mind engaging like a set of straight-cut gears in a NASCAR Monte Carlo. It was all go go GO!

And in the background: Always the voice telling me that I really wanted a car so I could get away from my parents and never, ever look back.

But see, these were all good things. After years of blaise noodling over one topic or another, I had finally found something that lit me up like firecracker. It happened to come in the form of a magazine dedicated to reviews of the exciting new Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I’ve learned not to judge, and neither should you. The point is that it happened. Here we are. Motor Trend got me through high school and at least into college. I can’t fathom what a diagram showing the associations made from that one magazine might look like.

So now I have a kid who’s eight. He’s a lot like I was at his age: curious but unfocused; clever but not determined.

And I keep waiting for something to catch him on fire.

* * * * *

I suppose some could have foreseen that a 12-year-old gearhead would end up writing a book with a truck in the title. Pick up my debut novel Eye of the Diamond-T  HERE. It’s about a lot more than trucks, obviously.

The 1950s: America on the Brink of Change

Diamond-T is about a lot of things.

diamondt-teaser-shelby1

One of those things is how the status quo of the time couldn’t remain standing. 1957 was a great year in a great decade for Americans. Many Americans,  but not all.

Already, cracks in the facade were beginning to show. And in the decade that followed, they’d explode full-force.

Kinda like a truck going off a bridge and crashing into a train — if you know what I mean.

Anyway, of the many challenges my protagonist Nick Pente faces, one of the most remarkable is racism. Not against him, really. Although he’s ethnically Greek, it never stopped him from getting a table in a restaurant. No — the challenge to Nick shows through in what he allows himself to dream about. He knows deep-down that the idyllic life in suburban Chicago he desires just isn’t going to work with him married to a Hopi maiden.

And then there’s the case of Shelby Howell. He inspires Nick to consider what might be in the trailer he’s been towing up and down Route 66. He’d never paused to think about the load he was carrying: His baggage.

Throughout the story there are hints of things that were taken for granted in a time when race and ethnicity were very real things. For many people alive at the time, it was all they needed to form a judgment. Readers from younger generations might be shocked. But then, maybe not.

Anyway, pick up your copy of Eye of the Diamond-T today and see what I mean. There’s a lot of meaning folded into Nick’s last journey down Route 66.

Inspiration: Paul Fussell on War

One major inspiration for Diamond-T came from the works of Paul Fussell. Among other things, my book was to be — at least in spots — a war novel.

Fussell

But not an ordinary war novel:

 I’ve been an enemy for years of the concept of the “Good War” and of all the sentimentalizing that’s done by people who didn’t fight it or who profited from it in one way or another. We all profited, but at what a cost.

I’ve been a fan of the writings of Paul Fussell since reading The Great War and Modern Memory in college. It laid out for me — for the first time — the origins of what I had come to know as the “modern world.” At some point in the past a cynical edge had come over society. The stark futility of World War One had set the course for the Europe’s descent into skepticism and irony, though that particular wave didn’t hit America until Vietnam.

“Chickenshit refers to behavior that makes military life worse than it need be: petty harassment of the weak by the strong; open scrimmage for power and authority and prestige; sadism thinly disguised as necessary discipline; a constant ‘paying off of old scores’; and insistence on the letter rather than the spirit of ordinances.”

The hero of my story is in a rush to join up with the infantry in 1944, feeling that it held the ability to wash him of his shame and personal doubts from his horrible childhood. It ends up only intensifying both. Fussell’s view of war inspired Nick Pente’s experience, but it was his attribution of the great social changes brought by mechanized large-scale combat that really formed my vision of what the book was to be about. Nick is both a hero and a victim. The way he’s seen most depends on the cultural attitudes of the reader.

“I would read accounts of so-called battles I had been in, and they had no relation whatever to what had happened. So I began to perceive that anything written was fiction to various degrees. The whole subject– the difference between actuality and representation–was an interesting one. And that’s what brought me to literature in the first place.”

Paul Fussell died in 2012 after a long and prolific career as an English professor and an infantry lieutenant. His contributions to our understandings of war and civilization live on.

Mid-Century Modernism and Diamond-T

In 1957, they didn’t call it “Mid-Century Modernism.” It definitely was “modern,” however.

mid-century-modern
The architecture of that age partially inspired Diamond-T. The confidence and sheer audacity is undeniable. One of Nick Pente’s first stops on what would be his final trip happens at a place I called the “Jet Travel Plaza.” It’s a fictional truckstop-of-the-future somewhere along Route 66 near Amarillo. It embodies a lot of what was then current in commercial architecture.

The tall, automatic sliding doors opened onto a palace of glass, stainless steel and burnished aluminum. The floor glowed with the aura of neon and recessed lighting. The lights over the kitchen-order window looked like the exhaust ports on F-105s, glowing orange on takeoff. The stools at the counter resembled metal-and-vinyl thrones that would have been at home on the bridge of an intergalactic cruiser.
Busboys and waitresses moved about about in linens white as pure bolts of lightning. The waitresses wore orange aprons and little pillbox hats. The workers seemed slow at this early hour, but still carried themselves with a cheerful efficiency. The floor was polished like a gem. It seemed to have diamonds in it. Music filled the air, faintly echoing off of every hard surface. Each booth and most of the spaces at the counter had their own chrome mini-jukeboxes, where for a nickel, one could hear the latest from Ferlin Husky or Jimmy Rodgers or Roger Williams. Where it sat, the Jet seemed like an outpost of an advanced civilization from another planet. — from Eye of the Diamond-T Ch. 3

Spacey!

There was something magical about that time that still captivates us. Thus, the continued popularity of the architecture, furniture, and art of the time.

Flavorwire has put together a nice little slideshow of images from that fanciful time when whatever didn’t look like a spaceship needed to look like a Tiki lodge of some description. You can see more HERE.

And don’t forget to get your copy of Eye of the Diamond-T HERE.