“Vampires. Kinky sex. I should have had vampires and kinky sex.”

That was the thought that stumbled into my head around 3:30 this morning as I tossed and turned with the half-conscious gauziness that covers one’s brain in the middle of the night. My mind was working in the off-hours, trying to figure out what would further propel my Kickstarter book funding campaign to greater success.

For those who haven’t seen my updates on Twitter or Facebook, I’ve spent the last four weeks focused on funding my memoir/travelogue, “Distilling Rob: Manly Lies and Whisky Truths” via the Kickstarter crowdsource funding platform. The true story tells of my brief time working at the Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay. The story uses the whisky maturation process as an analogy for how boys mature into men, and we all try to mature into adults. The present-day time at the distillery is balanced with flashbacks of my own journey through life as a medium to vessel that analogy.

Funds raised through the Kickstarter campaign will be used to finance the final edit, design and publishing of the book. I decided to go the independent publishing route after several near-connections with literary agents and publishing companies fell through over the course of the past 18 months. There is a huge movement in the independent publishing world that is very similar to the movement happening in the craft distillery universe. People with passion, and more often than not the skill to match, are taking their creative endeavors into their own hands. Rather than waiting for the world to discover their efforts, they are bringing their efforts to the world.

Which brings me to vampires. And kinky sex.

Independent publishing, like launching a new whiskey distillery, is often a losing game. Many people who venture down either of those roads don’t have the personal infrastructure, the experience, the capital, or the marketing vision to succeed. Plenty of passion and talent, but that only gets you so far. In the world of self-publishing it seems many writers try to make up for those shortcomings by writing about vampires. Or kinky sex. Ideally, both. And, that does get them to a certain point, as both are such “literary” hot topics.

I guess in the middle of the night, my thought of adding a tryst among the grist (whisky joke) with a sensitive, yet sexy, undead being whose complexion is fifty shades of grey, seemed like a sure winner to boost my book sales. But, that idea disintegrated in the morning light. And, considering “Distilling Rob” is a true-life story, I’d be hard-pressed to add either of those things to my experiences on Islay or in my life. Though, the anecdote of my blind date with an L.A. Goth girl who wanted to nail my hands to her wooden floor “like Jesus” so she could have her way with me comes close (as you’ll find out in Chapter 23).

Vampires and such are devices for fiction writers whose goal is to distract readers from their lives – and we all have needs for distractions. “Distilling Rob” on the other hand, delves into the raw, dark, unrehearsed, triumphant and hilarious parts of my life as the story rides the theme of maturity and adulthood. My personal recollections serve as a conduit into each reader’s life, allowing them to examine their own choices and experiences to see how they ended up where they are. Mine is a story of introspection rather than a story of distraction.

I never intended to write my “life story.” Far from it. My original goal was to explore the theme of whisky/human maturation by interviewing people who worked at distilleries to learn how the job made them the adults they are today. Bruichladdich’s Jim McEwan radically shifted that vision when he offered me the opportunity to discover whisky making from behind the scenes. Suddenly, I was part of the story I wanted to examine. The book took shape from there, much to my reluctance (trust me; I’ve little desire to “Distill Rob” before the world, but my book had other ideas).

The “Manly Lies” in the title refers to the misinformation about adulthood that is given to children by mass media; the way adults shift their own life perspective to better fit into the mold society expects; and, ultimately, the lies we live within our hearts when we deviate from our path of passion and fail to follow our bliss.

“Whisky Truths,” in an ideal world, is a reflection of the simplicity of whisky-making – water, grain, yeast, and casks – which results in a product with unique, individual characteristics. Those of us in the whisky world are fully aware of the “non-truths” in whisky: caramel coloring to make whiskies “look” better; “Reserve” editions that are oftentimes ways to dump mediocre whiskies onto the market at a premium price; and fancy bottles and packaging to drive up prices of “rare” whiskies that, while good, don’t necessarily match their alleged value.

But, for the sake of this story, I focused on the life truths one finds in whisky-making – or rather, the truths one seeks in whisky-making. What I find is revealed along the way.

This story and campaign has resonated with people. Within 24-hours of launching, I’d topped my initial funding goal. Within a week, I reached my second goal. Now, I am less than $500 away from my next goal, and the project has more than 100 backers. The campaign was featured on independent writer advocate Molly Greene’s influential blog. I was also interviewed about the book for a newspaper article. All in all, not bad for such a short campaign.

In two days, the campaign will end. Within three to four months, the book will be released. Like a whisky once it is bottled, when the book is packaged, all my thoughts and words will be immutable. No more life going into them, no new life coming from them. Hmmm… kind of like a vampire. Guess I pulled that off after all.

My next blog will dig deeper into the commonalities shared by independent whisky and writing, as I focus on efforts by Molly Greene, Allison Regnault Patel, Johanne McInnis and others.

Leave a Reply