by Jason Bovberg
August 1-31, 2021 Tour
Jasmine Frank is missing.
It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.
Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.
“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a beautiful noir novel for the 21st century! It’s a wild, frantic ride through shady Southern California, a desperate drug-fueled search for a girl who only wants to escape a sordid life.”
—Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST and THAT LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE
“Loser Babyis the real deal for hardcore crime fiction fans. This one grinds with the engine over the red line all the way. Hang on tight!”
—Eric Beetner, author of ALL THE WAY DOWN
“Loser Baby is one cool book! Bovberg writes characters who get into your head and under your skin. You won’t shake this one easily: It’ll stay with you long after you read it!”
—Terrill Lee Lankford, author of SHOOTERS and ANGRY MOON
“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a high-octane thriller that moves like greased lightning! The beauty of this book is its motley collection of despicable characters whom you come to love by the end. Loser Baby is Bovberg’s greatest book and one of the best of the year.
—Gary Phillips, author of BLOOD AND ASPHALT and BIRDS OF FIRE
Read an excerpt:
Jason Bovberg is the author of the Blood trilogy—Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn—as well as The Naked Dame, a throwback pulp noir novel. His forthcoming books include Tessa Goes Down, a border noir, and A Small Poisonous Act, a suburban crime novel. He is editor/publisher of Dark Highway Press, which published the controversial, erotic fairy tale Santa Steps Out and the weird western anthology Skull Full of Spurs.
He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife Barb, his daughters Harper and Sophie, and his canines Rocky and Rango. You can find him online at www.jasonbovberg.com.
Q&A with Jason Bovberg
What was the inspiration for LOSER BABY?
I grew up in Southern California in the ’70s and ’80s, from Garden Grove to Santa Ana to Orange to Irvine, and one thing I loved about the area—even back then—was the sprawling, multicultural, car-obsessed, beach-sweat vibe of it all. Music in the air all the time, the wet heat, the swaying palms … it made for a great childhood, especially the summers, body-surfing in the morning, scarfing drive-through burgers for lunch, listening to music while wandering the wide streets. There’s always been a yummy idyllic quality to SoCal, for sure, but there’s also always been a scuzzy underbelly of crime and drugs and lower-class ennui, and that’s what I wanted to explore in LOSER BABY, that dichotomy.
I’ve also always loved vintage pulp fiction, so my primary inspiration was to combine that sense of noir with the sunniness of Orange County’s lowest-brow city, Santa Ana. In essence, contrast the dark with the light.
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
The beginning of it! I was sidelined early thanks to a bout of Hodgkin’s Disease (a type of lymphoma) when I was 19. Man, that really put a dent in my trajectory, and it took a long while to recover. It’s probably for that reason that I feel as if I only started writing seriously late in life. (In fact, a big part of my writing output in my forties was to tackle my feelings about my “cancer period” in my horror trilogy Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn, a collective study of a blood anomaly that threatens existence.)
I’ll occasionally read success stories about writers getting their big break out of college, and that just ain’t me. Maybe I never really had anything exciting to write about back then, or I didn’t know the right people, but only now—past 50—do I feel like I have some really good, fun stuff to share. Now I’m facing a new challenge: finding an audience. And in the end, that may be the biggest challenge of all.
What do you absolutely need while writing?
Music! And I don’t mean songs with lyrics. Lyrics get all jumbled up with the words flowing out of my head. What I require are instrumental pieces, and my favorites of those are soundtracks. While writing LOSER BABY, I kept going back to propulsive film scores like Ennio Morricone’s The Untouchables and John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark. I also love putting on some instrumental jazz, my favorites being by people like Sidney Bechet.
Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?
When I have a book in progress, I stick to a routine of a thousand words per day. Sometimes those thousand words pour out in a couple hours, and sometimes I have to exhaustively yank them out one lousy letter at a time, and it takes all day. But I don’t give myself a break if it’s tough. Gotta get those words out! By doing that, I train the mind to get the work done, and over time it has become easier.
I think regular word flow is important, however a writer can manage it. If you have an irregular pace, and you’re taking long breaks between sessions, that’s going to inevitably affect the flow of the narrative, the characterizations, the structure …. You lose momentum. You forget stuff! I wrote LOSER BABY relentlessly, nearly a hundred thousand words, written in a hundred days, and I think that shows in the finished product.
Who is your favorite character from LOSER BABY and why?
I gotta say, the character that has stuck with me the most is a little girl named Sarah, who gets one chapter from her perspective in the middle of the book, and it may be the book’s strongest emotional punch. She’s really the book’s only true innocent, and I admit to getting a little choked up writing about her problems in the midst of everything else that went down.
Tell us why we should read LOSER BABY.
LOSER BABY is a timely look at the upcoming generation as much as it calls back to the pulpy traditions of dime-store paperbacks. You might say this is the book I came up with after my daughters went through high school. I got a close look at what these kids are like, mostly the friends they hung out with, and although I saw a lot of flippant, foul-mouthed, social-media influenced narcissism and entitlement—which you’ll see in LOSER BABY—I also saw a lot of opinionated smarts, and powerful interest in justice, and hope for the future. (I wanted my book to touch on those notes, too.) So think of LOSER BABY as both a crime-fiction thrill ride AND a gut-punch of a timely social commentary!
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about LOSER BABY.
One of the more interesting aspects of LOSER BABY for me is the use of multiple, perhaps unreliable narrators. I wanted to explore a single event—over the course of a single day—from the points of view of many characters. Call it Rashomon meets Jim Thompson! As I drove a pounding, straight-ahead narrative, I also wanted to give all those characters back stories, to flesh them out, and to show how their idiosyncratic histories have affected key plot events from moment to moment, and how they have ultimately impacted the resolution of the story. I know some readers (including my wife!) don’t really like multiple narrators, but I feel strongly that when it’s done RIGHT, a novel told from multiple perspectives can be the very opposite of disorienting. Perspective switching can be strategic, seamless, and even thrilling in and of itself. I think LOSER BABY achieves that.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
There’s recently been a nostalgic renaissance of pulp fiction. I’m talking about those classic, vintage crime paperbacks with the lurid covers. Those books are FANTASTIC (I have a prized collection of them), but what I’m trying to do is use those books as inspiration for a new, more relevant kind of pulp fiction. With LOSER BABY and another book I have in the pipeline, I’m trying to write pulpy page-turners that are pertinent to the day. I want to tackle today’s world but use a retro style.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m originally from southern California, where LOSER BABY takes place, but I moved to northern Colorado in the early ’90s because I’m more of a mountain person than a beach person. I also prefer the pace of Colorado.
I fell in love with Fort Collins way back then, everything about it this groovy college town. The place is so idyllic that I wrote a trilogy of apocalyptic horror novels, the BLOOD trilogy, in which I laid waste to it. Around the turn of the millennium, I found work as a writer/editor for a tech publication, where I tinkered with language for fifteen years. When print magazines died, I went freelance for several tech companies, and that’s what I’m still doing. I’ve raised two daughters who are about to enter the world as adults, and I just celebrated twenty-five years married to an awesome lady. Life is good.
What’s next that we can look forward to?
I have two more crime novels on the horizon, actually. The first is TESSA GOES DOWN, what you might call a “border noir” crossed with a “Midnight Run” chase narrative crossed with a race-tinged “One False Move” showdown thriller. For this book, I’ve combined that noir style with the atmosphere of politicized rage and hate out there today. It deals with post-pandemic attitudes, and the bewildering rise of bad guys over the past five years, and how optimism can die if you don’t nurture it on a big scale.
The other book is called A SMALL POISONOUS ACT, and this is my epic suburban crime story. Like LOSER BABY, it plays with multiple points of view, looking at a neighborhood from disparate perspectives. A little girl, an old man, a cheerleader type, a corrupt local businessman. And what happens when a small crime on a tiny suburban cul-de-sac can escalate into something deadly.
Catch Up With Our Author:
Instagram – @jasonbovbergauthor
Twitter – @JasonBovberg
Facebook – @CriminalVintage
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jason Bovberg. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs August 1st through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.