Gregory Dew - A Florida Whodunit, Unsavory Characters and Seedy Endeavors
Gregory Dew spends his time fishing the Ponce Inlet waters, sipping chilly beverages with his wife, and doing his best not to run aground. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his latest novel, Portside Screw, which was the Second Place Winner in the Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards and Runner up for the Mystery Fest Key West Whodunit award.
Please give us a short introduction to what Portside Screw is about
Retired PI Jack Cubera is enjoying the chill and lazy lifestyle of a fulltime boat bum until, while out fishing the backwaters off Islamorada, he comes across his arch nemesis, Ross Biggins—a bigtime real estate developer—doing the dead-man’s float. To clear his name from the suspect list, Jack’s forced out of retirement to investigate the death and, in doing so, flushes out a host of unsavory characters up to seedy endeavors that threaten to forever change his beloved island home.
Who is Jack Cubera? What makes him so special?
Jack, through wisdom gained in age, has realized that living the good life involves eliminating all unnecessary things from your world and simple being, in a philosophical sense. I want to be Jack . . . with a slightly bigger boat.
What inspired you to write this story?
The absurdity of big development in Florida in the sense that there are no boundaries as to how one can defile our native landscape as long as there’s enough cash getting thrown around. To quote my buddy, Jim: “Everyone’s a developer in Florida until they have their piece of the pie, then suddenly they transform into conservationists.”
Your scenes are very descriptive. Readers say that they can almost smell the beer on Jack's breath. How did you pull this off?
They say it takes ten-thousand hours to become a pro at something. Let’s just say, when it comes to beer, I’ve put in the hard work.
Despite being a thriller, Portside Screw is not a very serious book and contains a lot of humor. Why did you write it this way?
The task of writing a novel about Florida that did not contain humor seemed akin to scaling the north face of Matterhorn sporting nothing but flipflops, cutoffs, and a tank top.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Traveling. And I truly believe this is a skill. I’ve done everything from living in 1984 Plymouth Voyager (maroon with wood paneling) with a buddy as we drove/worked our way around North America to flying first-class to explore Europe with my wife to hitchhiking through the Iberian Peninsula while flat broke, to sleeping in the great outdoors in National Parks, on city benches, in a green space just south of Haight-Ashbury, to boating up and down the Intracoastal and to the islands, to caravanning with a circus setting up and operating the first ever reverse bungee jump ride in existence (circa 1992). Beyond that, my greatest skill is surrounding myself with dynamic and interesting people, some of whom may or may not have been responsible for getting us pulled over by the marine patrol near St. Augustine for, as the citation stated, “Doing acrobatics on the bow” (aka headstands) of a 34’ Four Winns while running at thirty-three knots.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
With this book, as my others, I always hide a lot of Easter Eggs in the pages and hope each one that gets discovered by the reader summons a shit-eating grin.
How much of your own personality and experiences have you written into the story?
Every character and scene is somehow drawn from personal experiences and personal relationships.
*Side note: The important thing when doing this is to inform someone they’ve inspired something in one of your characters. More importantly is to never enlighten them as to what that something is.
When working on a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
A book concept usually floods into me while I’m listening to great music (Bob Dylan, Jason Isbell) or watching a great movie (Barfly, Shawshank, A Star is Born), so I hunker behind my laptop and hammer out about ten thousand words in a feverish rush over the course of a few days. Once I get that down on the page, I ask myself is this good or is this garbage? Garbage usually wins the argument, so I toss that into the waste bin and wait for the next idea to flood in.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?
When I’m working on a novel, I’m usually up early—about 6 a.m.—and writing for about three or four hours, trying to get a couple thousand words on the page. I’m most creative in the morning, usually awaking with thoughts about plot or scene or character that I have been rolling through my dreams all night. After I get that down, I usually take a long walk and think about how to progress the story forward. I come back to the computer and jot those notes down for the next day’s writing session. But I never want to write it all down. I never want to completely tap the tanks. I need to leave something off the page and in my head to help keep the creative sparks flying. And, regardless, I never take a day off until the entire draft is complete.
What are you working on right now?
Well, as they say, it’s twelve o’clock somewhere, so . . .