News from Twelve Stakes

The Secret to Desert Alchemy

"It all looked like a sleepy high-desert farm where nothing more sinister happened than the yearly harvest and the occasional trespassing coyote.  That was exactly what it was supposed to look like.  Devin strolled through the lengthening evening shadows of the orchard and smoked his cigarette, wondering if anyone was even bothering to spy on the place.  Humans didn’t know his kind existed, much less pixie dust.  But as Niall always said, there were probably more meth cookers than farmers in the area so it paid to keep a low profile.  There was only so much trouble Fae money and influence could smooth over. "  - Darkness of the Spirit (Twelve Stakes Book 2)

Ghosts, Bootleggers and Communicating with the Dead

My sister-in-law is always looking for new ways to open up her world.

Most recently she's discovered a program called Access.  I'm not going into the nuts and bolts of it right now is but suffice it to say it blows your mind.  Literally.  Access allows you to expand your awareness exponentially and do some pretty amazing things.

Do you remember how at the end of Sixth Sense, you find out that the Bruce Willis character who counsels the boy throughout the whole movie turns out to be a ghost?  And it's totally spooky, sad and terrifying at the same time?

Well Access says, "Yup, we see dead people.  All the time.  They're called entities. The question is, are you going to let them scare the crap out of you or are you going to put them to work?"

Still with me?

Where Truth Is Always Stranger Than Fiction

My first book, One Death at a Time, opens with Jack Strayhorn, Vampire Detective extraordinaire, standing over two dead bodies “like an angel of death.”

One is a woman and the other is a man.  The man is dressed like Jack Kennedy -- reddish brown wig and a vintage suit from the sixties.  The woman is dressed like Marilyn Monroe with a blond wig and the iconic white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch.  They’ve both been shot through the head.

Heroes and Addicts

Drug addiction is part of my stories, but it’s also part of my story, my life story.  I started drinking and using at 17 and didn’t stop until I was 30 when I woke up at home with no memory of driving there after an all-day drinking binge with my family.

I wish I could say that was the last time I had a drink.  But I continued on for another six years.  I didn't get clean until I was 36 and found myself spending two weeks in a looney bin at Del Amo (yes, that's what happens when you end up on the beach with an X-Acto knife - more on that in another post). 

After I successfully passed the hearing at the end of my mandated 5250 hold, I went to Dr. Drew's rehab, Pasadena Recovery Center and spent 30 days getting my head screwed back on (thank you, Butch, wherever you are).

Midnight Meetings with Mickey Cohen


If you want a good glimpse of the secret history of Los Angeles – the hidden corruption, money and back room deals that built this city – a good place to start is a small restaurant on the edge of downtown called the Pacific Dining Car. 

Just follow Wilshire Blvd east towards the river.  A few blocks before you hit the Harbor Freeway, you’ll see a statue of a black cow overlooking a yellow train car.  It’ll look like a harmless, novelty tourist spot, which it is.  But rule number one in L.A. is don’t be fooled by outer appearances.  Around since 1921, this iconic steakhouse has been the meeting ground for almost a century’s worth of politicians, reporters, cops, gamblers, and all matter of crooks and crime bosses.

The Birth of Twelve Stakes

When I was in the looney bin at Del Amo, I had a fellow patient who was a former Army Ranger.  One day, his Ranger friends came to visit him and had to check their weapons at the front desk.  When they got back into the patient dayroom, one of them said, "Damn, Jesse, I can't believe you made me visit you in the looney bin without my guns."  It was so good to hear someone crack a joke and talk about what was going on directly. 

I also had a visit from a friend like that.  His name is Khanh Ho, currently the writer behind Los Angeles Mystery and the social critic well known for his essays at The Huffington Post.  While the rest of my family and friends were wringing their hands and doing everything they could to avoid mentioning the words "crazy" or "hospital," Khanh showed up with a double double burger from In-N-Out and made a joke about my lace-free shoes.  He also said, "You're so lucky.  I hope you're taking notes."

Too Much Program

In my first draft of Book One, "One Death at a Time," I sent Jack to a meeting every other chapter.

My wife who is an excellent reader and editor and who loves to slash and burn everything I write said, "Too much Program."

To those of you who know what "Program" means you understand as I do that you can never go to too many meetings. 

Writing Jack Strayhorn and Old Los Angeles

In the first book of my Twelve Stakes series, "One Death at a Time," my main character Jack Stayhorn is a vampire who was turned in 1948 while hunting the Black Dahlia Killer with the LAPD.  In the wake of the bloody mess and chaos that is a turning, Jack is branded a cop-killer and flees town a step ahead of massive manhunt.  It's been seventy years when Jack returns.