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.
But my wife was right that Jack couldn't spend half the book at meetings so I left in only the ones where he picks up crucial clues that pull him closer to the killer.
Why I am so crazy about meetings? Because they saved my goddamned life. When I got out of rehab, I went to five meetings a week. Sitting in a dark room surrounded by other addicts, I could spill my guts and talk about the craziest shit I'd ever done and no one blinked an eye.
And someone always had a crazier story. If I talked about stealing my father-in-law's pain meds, the next guy would talk about smuggling heroin in a loaded syringe between his butt cheeks when he checked into the hospital for surgery.
Meetings are a place to go to feel accepted and normal for an hour. Everyone knows what I've been through even if they didn't know me personally. In the rooms, I find an unconditional acceptance that few people outside the program are willing to offer an addict.
Meetings are also where I meet up with my sponsor, a guy who's been clean decades longer than I have and who always has my back no matter how badly I fuck up.
And that's why, no matter how cynical Jack feels about them, he hasn't missed a meeting since another vampire saved him on a beach after he fled Los Angeles. It's at his first meeting that night that he learns what he really is and that he will be able to survive this and turn his life around. He finds out that A.A. is a cover for vampires and that "Bill W.", the founder of A.A. himself was a vampire.
This mission of trying to turn your life around and contribute something positive to the world after so many years of greedy taking is something I saw firsthand in the meetings. Jack is trying to find a new way of life to make up for his first one.
Jack goes to meetings to pull himself up when the darkness are around him threatens to take him under. It's where he gets reminded that he's not alone, he's not a lost and damned soul.
There's magic in the meetings.
And who knows, maybe reading about Jack in a meeting will help some struggling addict out there make that decision to get clean and sober. Or not.
In any event, goddammit, this series is thirteen books long. And yes, there will be meetings in every one of them.