First things first, it is not a Hellsinger book nor is it about Catholics. That seems to be the common thread of questions. The next Hellsinger book is “Send In The Ghosts” and will be out next year. And I’m struggling to remember if I even mention Catholicism in the book at all. Which I don’t think so but you never know.
What I do mention…or rather write about… is a little girl.
You see, Fish Stick Fridays is about a man who has lived most of his life on the wrong side of the law and now has to do right by his dead sister’s little girl. Deacon doesn’t know anything about children. He had no intention of ever having kids—practically a sure bet when you’re a gay guy—but he ended up with Zig, a little girl who spent quite a bit of time in the foster care system before Deacon was awarded custody. It was a long fight to get custody of Zig because who in their right mind would hand over a little girl to an ex-con?
I wanted to challenge myself a bit. Writing a child into a book…writing an actual child into a book… was tricky. I drew on friends’ kids for a reality check as well as the oh-so-huge family I belong to. While my immediate family is average sized by most standards, we’re practically extinct compared to the rest of the brood. I also drew on my years as a juvie counselor for a teen halfway house for inspiration. Zig needed to be a little girl but a street worn little girl. She grew up on the edge of Compton with a mother who loved her but didn’t necessarily make the best life decisions. Since that’s where Deacon came from as well, it’s something he understands and can relate to Zig’s POV.
But he also wants better for her.
Deacon was a great character to write. The balance between his bad boy instincts and doing the right thing by his niece was a fantastic thing to explore. I tried to make Zig as real of a kid as possible. She loves to read but let’s face it, she grew up in the system and it shows. Deacon isn’t a guy who is going to be able to provide her with a white picket fence lifestyle because he has no fucking idea how to do that.
Even when he falls for a guy who was born and raised behind a white picket fence.
Lang is everything Deacon is not. Moneyed, educated and a little reserved, Lang doesn’t quite know what hit him when Zig stomps into his shop. And while he certainly knows what he’d like to do with Deacon who is hot on Zig’s heels, Lang isn’t a want-take-have kind of guy.
For the most part this book is about balance… well around the murdery bits but still, balance. It’s about Deacon creating a normal life out of the nothing he was given and Lang taking a chance on a whirlwind of leather jackets, motorcycles and dimples that walked into his life.
Oh and about the title… Fish Stick Fridays is about the ONE day of the week where Zig (and Deacon) doesn’t have to eat her veggies. On Fridays, it is fish sticks and mac & cheese for dinner. A bit of comfort food in the middle of a whirlwind of life.