It’s no secret that books and booze go together (Here’s looking at you, just about every famous and not-so-famous writer ever). It’s also no secret that in the past decade or so the “craft” movement has come in waves and brought beer, spirits, cocktails, and about nineteen other types of products to the forefront of our culture. My own research and work has brought me to much the same place.
In college, I started home brewing beer in a plastic container in the closet of my apartment. From there, I got an “internship” (read: I worked and got paid in wine, not money) at a winery in Montana. That job was followed up with stints volunteering at other breweries, learning more about beer and other drinks, working as a bartender and eventually helping start a craft brewery. At the same time, I got my MA-English and read and wrote about booze in books and books and booze and a number of other connections between the two. Suffice it to say, I’ve spent a lot of time around booze and books. The two are intimately tied in my own head, as they are in many others. Hence, this new series.
I set out to accomplish a couple of things with Getting Lit. First, I wanted to talk to writers about their own work. After that, I wanted to make a direct connection with a type of alcohol (or other drink in the case of those that don’t drink) and then use that chosen drink to create a custom cocktail for that particular work/author.
This will get better as it goes along, obviously (well, hopefully), but those are my goals at the outset. Talk about books. Talk about booze. Connect the two. Shake and enjoy. I’m open to all feedback on the drinks and if you are a writer interested in participating in this series, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Round 1 with Steph Post
Sam: Can you tell me a little bit about the genesis of your debut novel, A Tree Born Crooked (Pandamoon, 2014)?
Steph Post: The characters came first (they always do). I knew I wanted to write about people who had to scrap their way through life, trying to make it in a place that had given up on them. Once I had the title—which came before any actual writing—I started to see what was taking shape: a story about folks struggling to find their meaning, even if the world thinks they have none.
S: How’d the title come about?
SP: The title comes from a line in the Tom Waits’ song “How’s It Gonna End.” When the novel was still being formed in my head, my husband emphatically told me that it was the title. I had no idea what being a tree born crooked meant, so I had to work it out as I wrote. It’s a strange instance of a title influencing a story, but it worked out.
S: Can you give me five words you think best describe Tree as a whole?
SP: Honest, lyrical, gritty, atmospheric, badass. I have no idea why, but that was a really hard question!
S: Follow-up to that: if you could choose one spirit/type of beer/wine to epitomize the novel, what would it be? It doesn’t have to be a specific brand.
SP: Bourbon for sure. (Wild Turkey, if you wanted a specific brand.)
S: A woman after my own heart. Last question: what are you working on next?
SP: I’m currently working on my 3rd novel (there’s another, after Tree, that I’m still shopping around). This new one is straight up Southern Gothic and it’s really testing me right now. Think tricksters, voodoo, carnivals, Appalachia, modernism, nihilism, Snow White and the most badass female character I’ve ever written. And that’s just for starters.
The Crooked Tree
[Note: I wanted the drink to reflect the darkness of the novel while also embodying its Southern roots, in particular those of the Florida locale. The woodiness of the root beer liqueur blends with that of the bourbon and the cinnamon stick to give you an earthy cocktail that has just enough sweetness from the orange juice. The bourbon is still the overwhelming flavor and it is intended to kick you a bit, just like the novel.]
- 2oz bourbon
- 1oz orange juice
- .5oz root beer liqueur (such as Art in the Age Root)
- Cinnamon stick for garnish
Mix ingredients in shaker with ice. Strain and serve in a rocks glass with a cinnamon stick garnish.
About Steph Post:
“Steph Post is a tried and true Florida native. Not palm-tree-laden-fruity-drink-tropical-shirt-and-sandals South Florida, but backwoods-on-a-creek-deer-flies-and-alligator-ridden North Florida. Her adventurous childhood growing up in just such a precarious landscape has led to a lifetime of dauntless creativity and the Scrappy mentality that she can achieve just about anything if she sets her mind to it.
This somewhat reckless outlook has led to a Bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College, numerous waitressing and bartending gigs, a penchant for writing long academic papers on punk rock and Alice in Wonderland, a Master’s degree in Graduate Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the acquisition of six slightly deranged mutts and an extremely tolerant husband, two novels, a house in St. Petersburg, Florida and a fulfilling job as a high school teacher at a performing arts school in Tampa.
Spice up this timeline with the knowledge that she has also been a recipient of the Patricia Cornwell creative writing scholarship, winner of the Vereen Bell award for short fiction, semi-finalist for the Big Moose prize for fiction, loves coffee, is obsessed with the television show Justified and enjoys reading classic literature when she’s not too busy being a badass, and you should have a pretty good picture of who you’re dealing with here. Like the characters she writes about, Steph Post is vulnerable and volatile, fearless and fierce. She hopes you enjoy her work.”