Friday, November 12, 2010

LOT LIZARDS: The Story Behind the Book

After Live Girls was released, a lot of readers urged me to write a sequel. Back then, I vowed I would never write sequels. I have since learned never to say never. Nearly 20 years after Live Girls, I wrote a sequel called Night Life. I’ve written other sequels as well (Bestial, the sequel to Ravenous, and The Folks 2). But that’s a topic for another blog. Rather than write a direct sequel to Live Girls, I ended up writing a kind of vampire follow-up.

I spent a lot of time writing at the coffee counter of the restaurant at the 76 Truck Stop in Redding, California, back in the 1980s. That's where I met my wife, in fact. She was the night manager of the gift shop, and once I discovered her, I found myself spending a lot of time in that coffee shop trying to come up with reasons to talk to her. When I wasn't there, though, I was seated at the counter in the coffee shop. I sat there during the wee hours writing in my notebook, drinking coffee, eavesdropping on conversations. I listened as waitresses complained to each other about their husbands and boyfriends (some had both); as locals complained about how the liberals and Mexicans and homos were destroying the country; as cops flirted with and shamelessly groped waitresses (membership has its privileges); and as truckers chatted with each other about anything and everything under the sun.

Truckers talked about where they were headed, where they’d been, politics, music, women and the romance audiobooks they’d read — they were all addicted to romance audiobooks, with Nora Roberts being the most popular author among them. One night, I overheard two truckers talking and I perked up when I heard the phrase “lot lizard.” What on earth could a lot lizard be?

“Uglier’n a jar a warts,” one trucker said to the other. “And she was wasted. Just lookin’ for money to buy more drugs, like most of ‘em.”

As I listened closely to their conversation, I began to figure out that a lot lizard was a prostitute who worked the parking lot at truck stops, offering sexual favors to lonely truckers tired after a long stretch on the road listening to Nora Roberts novels. The definition of a lot lizard is a lot more mundane than the name itself. Those two words seized my imagination and sent it spinning. Whatever it was I’d been working on that night was forgotten.

I used the Redding 76 Truck Stop as my location in the novel, but I moved it farther north into the mountains where it was likely to be socked in by snow now and then during the winter months. I don’t outline. It just doesn’t work for me. I might make a few notes, some brief character sketches, but nothing too organized. I prefer to discover a story while I’m writing it. As I had done with Live Girls, I started writing as soon as the idea hit me. Actually, it wasn’t so much an idea as the ingredients for an idea. I had a snowed-in truck stop with truckers, truck stop waitresses and other employees ... and traveling truck stop vampire hookers. Add sex, violence and stir well.

Lot Lizards was published by Mark V. Ziesing in 1991. It was a beautiful hardcover edition, but although it was well received, it had a limited print run and its steep cover price only got steeper as the years passed and it became more collectible. For a long time, the novel was only available in that edition, so its readership has been limited.

Now Lot Lizards is finally available in an affordable mass market edition. It's available for Kindle from Amazon and for Nook from Barnes and Noble. It's also available as an audiobook, read by Ray Sizemore — which makes a perfect gift for any truckers you might know!
If you enjoyed Live Girls but haven’t read Lot Lizards, now is your chance to give the book a read. If you enjoy novels about vampires who are bloodthirsty and predatory — as opposed to sensitive and angst-ridden and prone to sparkling in the sunlight — you might enjoy this book. If you do, I hope you'll write a review on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble website or on your blog or website. To keep up on news and new releases, visit my website, RayGartonOnline.