Friday, March 22, 2019

Unrepentant Screwdrivers

E. A. Aymar joins us for Drinks with Reads this week with a screwdriver and his new book, The Unrepentant. I was at the Amazon book store in Columbus Circle over the weekend and they had the book featured because it was a fast reader favorite. The Unrepentant, was published this month by Down and Out Books. His other thrillers include the novel-in-stories The Night of the Flood (in which he served as co-editor and contributor), as well as I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and You’re As Good As Dead

Aymar’s column, “Decisions and Revisions,” appears monthly in the Washington Independent Review of Books, and he is also the Managing Editor of The Thrill Begins, ITW’s online resource for aspiring and debut thriller writers. In addition to ITW, he is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and SinC.
Aymar also runs the Noir at the Bar series for Washington, D.C., and has hosted and spoken at a variety of crime fiction, writing, and publishing events nationwide. He was born in Panama and now lives and writes in the D.C./MD/VA triangle.
Now let's hear from E.A.

The first alcoholic drink I ever drank, and the first to get me stumblingly, world-spinningly drunk, was not grain alcohol or moonshine or some sort of gruff beer, but instead a simple screwdriver, an unimaginative mixture of orange juice and vodka, topped with a maraschino cherry.
This was my freshmen year in college, and of course it was at a fraternity party, that shaky environment of equal parts friendship and danger. I’d never so much as tasted alcohol before but, for me, college was a loosening of the rigid morals and fear that had guided me through childhood. I can remember walking back to my dorm, clutching a maraschino cherry in my hand (I’m not sure why), and collapsing on my narrow bed. I made certain to sleep on my stomach, since my roommate warned me that if I slept on my back and threw up, there was near-certainty I would choke on my vomit and die.
“And, dude…you don’t want to die because of a couple of screwdrivers. Honestly.”
He went back to the party. Weeping from guilt, I called my father and confessed my intoxication to him (he was fine with it, and a bit surprised at my remorse). And then I took my roommate’s advice and carefully passed out on my stomach, which was one of the better choices I made that night, and also for much of my freshman year.
“Life is all about decisions,” the excellent reviewer Kate Malmon, of Crimespree Magazine, wrote in her review of my new thriller, The Unrepentant. “Some decisions you get to make, others are made for you.” Her review – weighing the decisions that the characters made, and how those decisions affect them throughout the book – has given me the chance to see my own work in a new light. The novel is the story of revenge. A young woman named Charlotte Reyes is kidnapped by criminals, escapes with the help of a reluctant, retired soldier and realizes that, to fully free herself, she needs to exact revenge. Charlotte takes control of her fate, and her decision-making, while not uncomplicated, is firm. Of less resolve is the retired soldier, Mace Peterson, a man whose pained past has led him to shaky ground. A man in the midst of questioning what it is to be a man, and if all necessary decisions are morally correct.
All of my characters have something of me within them, of course, but Mace is the one I identify with the most. Mace is the one who, when writing, caused me to reflect on my past and present, on the boy I was, and the decisions I made. And the decisions I make now, as a husband, a father, a writer. The Unrepentant is a book about bad people who do bad things, and about good people who do bad things, and about moments of hope, but it is very much, as Kate Malmon wrote, a book about decisions. And, for me, that first confused foray into alcohol, into the uncertainties of adulthood, makes a screwdriver the perfect pairing.

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