Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Joe Schwartz ~ an interview and his novel ~ Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers - A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll

Joe Schwartz

BIO – Joe Schwartz self-published his first book, Joe’s Black T-Shirt: Short Stories About St. Louis, in August of 2009. He has continued to write dark stories using the Gateway City as an inspiration for his tales of self-destruction and violence. His current novel, Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll, was published by Ravenswood publishing of North Carolina and it is his second published novel.

Joe’s style is generally described as transgressive as his characters use illegal or illicit means to resolve their problems. His work is most often compared with Charles Bukowski and Raymond Carver. “The day I read Dopefiend by Donald Goines was like a revelation to me as a writer,” says Joe. “Donald showed everybody that dark side he personally knew and pulled no punches. That is when I knew how I would write.”

Q: Did you like school when you were a child?
A: I did not like school basically from Kindergarten to High School. For me it was a prison, a place to go that was a mild reprieve from home but at least there was food to eat which was a hell of a lot better than wherever we were currently living owing two-months back rent. I have eaten enough white bread sandwiches with nothing but ketchup, or mustard, or occasionally, some steak sauce to last me a lifetime.

Q: Dine in or dine out?
A: I’ve never been a fan of eating out. It’s expensive, wasteful really, and an extravagance for me. That said, I’d eat out every damn day if I could truly afford it.

Q: Coffee or Tea?
A: Coffee is something I drink every day. I’m drinking a cup of crappy work coffee right now. Tea, however, for me is special. It’s for peace and quiet, looking off in the distance and remembering not to take this crap so seriously, for remembering the good times. Besides, I’m rather fond of coffee and something to smoke.

Q: Texting, love it or hate it?
A: I like texting. Of course, the people you would really prefer to gab with never call and those you wish would leave you the hell alone text, email, call, and come over when you’re getting ready for bed. I kind of miss the days before Caller ID. Then again, I was a big fan of making prank calls.


Q: When did you start writing and why?
A: When I was about eight, I started writing basically as a way to try and impress friends. Over the years, throughout school and work, I found myself always able to stand-out by doing it. My presumption was that if you could speak English, you should be able to write it. Turns out, many cannot, but I’ve always been a reader and that continual exposure to words has been the great constant in my life.

Q: How did you come to write your genera of choice?
A: I’ve read many books. A few made indelible marks upon me and my disposition. It was wonderful to know I wasn’t alone, that some guy who didn’t know a damn thing about my life could relate to the hell I was going through. I decided that I would not play it safe, that I would write like I talk, that my stories would be as natural and stringent as the people I’ve found interesting all my life. The bikers, the whores, the losers, the drug dealers, musicians, and drop-outs, the outsiders I call family.

Q: Would you ever consider a joint project?
A: I have and recently did just that. I’m included in an anthology called ‘I Can Taste The Blood’ with fellow awesome dudes John F.D. Taff, Josh Malerman, J Daniel Stone, and Erik Johnson. Five stories all with the same title but completely different stories. I’m the only non-horror author included and consider that alone high praise. It will likely come out in late summer. I think the title says it all, but still, visit for all the details.

Q: What geographical locations are your favorite and why?
A: I’m a big fan of using St. Louis and the surrounding counties as my backdrop to stories. It’s where I grew up mostly, a place I alternately love and hate. An angry place full of pissed off, disgruntled people who, despite wealth or poverty, simply seem to hate this life. It’s not like anywhere I have ever lived or visited and there is nowhere else I could ever imagine like it.

Q: How long does it take you to create a novel?
A: I’d say about a year but sometimes longer. My last one took over two. There were times I had to leave alone and think about what I was doing as a writer and artist. I hear about these juggernauts that can poop out 3-4k words an hour. Whenever I hear that I wonder, how many are worth keeping. Some days I write a sentence and it takes every bit of mental fortitude I’ve got. Others, I’ll max out around 1500. The thing is, when I’m done, I need to have accomplished two things: 1. I’ve entertained the hell out of myself. 2. I know what I’ve written is the very best I could have possibly done.


Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A: I’m easy to find. Follow me on Twitter @Joesblacktshirt or at Author Joe Schwartz on Facebook. I have a website, too, and a few videos up on YouTube at And don’t forget to visit the magnificent Ravenswood Publishing where you can find a library’s worth of great writing. 
Ladies and Gentleman: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll is your personal invitation to tune in, turn on, and drop out as you ride the tour bus through the night and into the next town with Paul, Ronnie, Adam and Mark.

Paul is old school rock ‘n’ roll but he knows a hit song when he hears one. When he gets a demo from a St. Louis metal band, he is not impressed until he hears a track unlike all the others. He may have to make a deal with the devil to find the kid for his last chance ticket to rock glory.
SYNOPSIS: Ever dreamed of joining a rock band, getting rich, getting famous, and seeing the world through a private jet plane’s window?

Ronnie is a brutal, delusional alcoholic and prescription fiend. In spite of his amazing technical guitar style, he has no talent. He can never be an original like Adam. For vengeance, Ronnie will follow a dark path of violence and destruction to the bitter end.

Adam is a musical prodigy. He simply hears music in his mind while the notes naturally come through his guitar. Young and utterly na├»ve, music will change his life but his regret is a wound that will never heal. Mark couldn’t play a piano if it had only one key, but he doesn’t need to. Unlike Ronnie and Adam, Mark is hoping he can find the balance between his brothers though a musical bridge connecting them all forever. Paul, Ronnie, Adam, and Mark all have one thing in common – they would rather die than give up on their rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Walking down this wicked, twisted road each man will realize one important thing – this music can save them all.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock&Roll will leave your ears ringing long after you’ve read it for the first time!

I rode shotgun in Mark’s manual Volkswagen bug. The floor boards were rusted through in spots. I could see the street pass under the car as he shifted gears. The car was over thirty years old but drove like brand new. That didn’t surprise me despite the rust, the cracked windshield, or the missing dash. Sound geeks like Mark were naturally handy, constantly fixing cars, or TVs, or stereos. His kind was as likely to install cable or drive trucks for day jobs while hanging with the bands at night.

“How old is Adam, anyway?” I asked.

“Seventeen. I’m five years younger than Ronnie and Adam is two years younger than me,” Mark said.

Jesus, so young, I thought. All of them were still just dumb kids who didn’t have a clue how terrible life truly was. Not yet, anyway.

We pulled behind the house where the cab had dumped me out earlier. This time, though, I followed Mark, leaving my suitcase in his car. I already felt a hundred pounds lighter. We came into his mom’s house the way we had left grandma’s house, through the back door. Her kitchen smelled like cooked meat and cigarettes. The sink was filled with dirty dishes and the table was littered with filled ashtrays. On the back porch, there were trashcans filled with nothing but beer bottles.

Mom was sitting in the front room. The nineteen-inch color TV looked distorted through the hanging cloud of blue smoke. She called over her shoulder, never taking her eyes off the screen.

“Is that you, Ronnie?” she called.

“No, Ma. It’s me, Mark,” he said.

“If you see Ronnie, tell him there was some asshole here earlier looking for him.”

“Okay,” he said.

We were both trying not to laugh.

“I’ll do that.”

I followed him upstairs. The wood risers creaked under our feet, screaming with old age. I held onto the loose banister for balance.

A stained glass window caught the light, coloring the landing in a bold rainbow of primary colors. The glass was hand laid, each hand-cut pane sealed in lead, a beautiful harlequin diamond with a white lily in the center.

There was music playing down the hall, a gentle fog of blues that tickled my ears. Mark led the way but he didn’t have to. I would’ve followed those simple chords blindly off a cliff. A weird thing happened to me the closer we got to the music, a weird thing happened to me. Little bumps of gooseflesh broke over my arms. The hair on my neck rose, standing at attention as if I was in the middle of a lightning storm. I recognized the song, every single note and key signature change. I’d bought the record the day it was released. It was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s In The Beginning. The song was Shake for Me, the classic Howlin’ Wolf number that tore my fucking head off when I heard it for the first time. SRV’s reinterpretation of the blues was not something I took lightly. He was one of the few guitar players Jim had admired. He had told me anybody who could play like that was not human. This coming from a guy who could cover Hendrix like he was in a trance and channeling his dead soul.

Mark carefully opened the door without knocking. The kid sat on a low stool with an acoustic guitar across his lap. I could’ve shit when I saw he was actually playing along, never missing a note or a change. His eyes were closed. The music came to him and through him as naturally as if he were a radio tuning in a signal from outer space. Dumbfounded, I sat down on the unmade twin bed next to Mark, too stunned to speak.

I had found him.

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Funny/Stupid and Interesting Tabs.

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