Smoking With Bill Cook

Read the Story March 29, 2015

Very cool story. Tell us a little about writing this piece.
It was fairly easy. One afternoon, I was down at my sister’s visiting, and her stepson, Ryan started telling me about this “old dude” who drank energy drinks, and bingo the light flashed on, and I said to myself, “Hey this is real cool stuff” and a story was born. I loved my nephew’s excitement and the way he got a big kick out of such an eccentric old dude. It gave me hope that maybe one day I’d be that old guy.

Like most of my favorite pieces, I did little editing to Star Man.

There are pop culture references in this flash—Big Gulp, Monster drinks, Guitar Hero. What made you decide to use specific references?
All three felt right when they popped into my head. For me, the idea of a drink called Monster conveyed perfectly the spirit and unbridled exuberance of youth. I mean Red Bull…what’s that mean to a kid? A crazed bull ready to charge? Then came Guitar Hero, which I instantly fell in love with. I mean, the mere image of an eighty-two year-old man playing a toy guitar is totally askew, slanted just the way I like it. Here’s this old dude who refuses to grow up. Or is stuck or whatever. I totally relate at some level which may be embarrassing but it’s true. Who doesn’t want to retain some element of surprise, of awe, of “wow, let’s check that out”?

Your own Big Gulp drink of choice?
Currently it’s GBG or Giannini Bar & Grill Ale. A local beer served on tap at a small café no more than eight houses down the street from us, kitty-corner to the local Little League baseball diamond. I can’t wait until winter ends and I can start taking Cujo—my sons beautiful and tragically sweet dog—and order a couple of ales and enjoy a good book.

You mention the game Guitar Hero III. Who is one of your guitar heroes?
This is a hard one. The spectrum is way too wide for me to choose only one. I love melodic guitar to raw raunchy guitar. Some rocking, jazz fusion things like Scott Henderson and Tribal Tech to someone totally different, like Ani Difranco, who’s an amazing musician. And then there’s Neil Young who’s way too powerful and cool, and Steve Morse, who’s currently with Deep Purple. I know I went way beyond my limit…but I just couldn’t help myself.

What are you working on now in your writing life?
Last year it was micros to short-shorts, but lately I’ve been more titillated by longer pieces around three thousand words and up.

About the Author:

Bill Cook lives in a semi-rural area in Southern Californias High Desert, and has stories published in Juked, elimae, Thieves Jargon, VerbSap, Tin Postcard Review, Right Hand Pointing and The Summerset Review.