Will Blog for Beer
by Karis Walsh
I love visiting here at Women and Words, so I jumped at the chance to blog when Jove told me there was an open slot. I immediately launched into my usual blog-writing procedure. First, I picked a theme. I chose “alcohol.” Second, I started researching…
When I came to the next morning, I took a few aspirin and ate a typical Texas hangover breakfast of chicken-fried steak. Then, after this thorough and painstaking (or maybe just painful) preparation, I sat down to write.
Lately, my life has been consumed by moving to Texas and adapting to life here. I’ve noticed many differences between this state and Washington, like the extreme weather, the huge-ass bugs, and the lack of roadside espresso stands. But a big surprise has been the relaxed approach to alcohol here, despite the fact that Texas is a blue law state. In Washington, I’d have to park my car, get out, and actually walk into a store if I wanted to buy liquor. Here? I can just drive through the local party barn, stop my car next to the taps, and have a growler filled with my beer of choice. They put a smidgen of tape around the cap and send me on my way (supposedly the tape is meant to stay on for the whole ride home, but mine has never lasted that long). What a time saver! Another difference? In Washington, the bar area of a restaurant is closed for those under twenty-one. No screaming kids allowed. No high chairs! Here in Texas, we’ve eaten in bars while babies are crying and toddlers are crawling around on the floor eating fallen French fries at the next table.I guess if I want an adults-only drinking experience I have to forego the bar and hit the drive-through. But my favorite example of the Texas attitude toward booze is the furniture store that serves free alcoholic slushies to customers. Yes, I said free and alcoholic. I spend a lot of time in that store.
When I’m creating a character, I like to know what she drinks. It’s one of those small details—like her hobbies or taste in food—that makes a character come to life in my mind. An outspoken teetotaler. A connoisseur of French burgundies. A case-a-night fan of Bud Light. These examples would lead to three very distinct women with unique stories. Drinking might not factor into the novel at all, but answering the question of favorite drink helps me flesh out a personality. In my novel Worth the Risk, Jamie’s preference is high-end single malt scotch, neat. She likes aggressive flavors and has a taste for the finer things in life. (Have I mentioned how much I looooved researching Jamie’s character?) In contrast, Kate orders Maker’s Mark Manhattans when she’s at a party. Raised to be very status conscious, she chooses the drink that makes the right statement about her social standing. The one that matches her dress and fits the occasion. But what does she drink when she’s alone? Earl Grey tea. They aren’t defined by their taste in alcohol, but the choices they make when asked what they want to drink help me and my readers understand them.People—real or fictional— are too complex to be pigeon-holed based on a single preference or taste. Depending on my mood, I’ll choose Jamie’s scotch, Kate’s tea, Brooke’s gin-and-tonic, or Andy’s local microbrew. Or maybe I’ll just take a swig out of my growler. None of these options reveals who I am as a person; however, they give glimpses into facets of my personality. I want my characters to have depth, so I need to figure out how they’d answer questions. Not just the big ones, like What do you fear? or What do you look for in a partner? but also the smaller—and often revealing—ones like What’s your favorite comfort food? or What do you want to drink?
Karis Walsh is a horseback riding instructor who lives on a small farm in the Pacific Northwest. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she enjoys spending time outside with her animals, reading, playing the viola, and riding with friends.