It will be available on Apple Books, Kindle, and all over the place any day now.
This novel has been in the works for a long, long time. I first wrote it in 1995, had a deal to publish, but it all fell apart for a lot of silly reasons. Then it was supposed to be a movie. Then a book again. So the project went into mothballs for a while. When I picked it back up in 2013, I updated the timeline to include the events of Hurricane Ike and its impact on the Gulf Coast. The result is a better story, and hopefully one you enjoyed.
The concept came to me one night while listening to one of my go-to bands, ZZ Top. The song Jesus Just Left Chicago is one of my all-time favorites. In it, Jesus just left Chicago and is on his way to New Orleans. I might have been drinking at the time, but I was listening one night and wondered where he would go in between and decided he would show up at Sam Houston Race Park and make everyone money, and suddenly the idea came together.
I had written several short stories for my Masters Thesis at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1989. When I put them together, the themes were all similar -- Houston/Galveston, characters seeking redemption, religion, music, the mafia and of course, gambling. Most of the characters in this novel were born from those stories, as well as a few others I have written over the years.
Some were published, but many I just wrote for friends while I was grinding away at an 80-hour a week job at the Houston Chronicle. Michael, for instance, was from a short story called “31,” about a hit man who heard music with each kill and associated the two. It was written on an old computer and there were a few printouts for friends, but like most of the others, it is probably lost forever.
As far as reality, all of the devastation of Crystal Beach by Hurricane Ike is real, as is Mine That Bird’s win in the Kentucky Derby.
You might have noticed the story moves fast. My writing style was born from 20 years in journalism and heavy influences from the late, incomparable Douglas Adams and Elmore Leonard as well as Michael Moorcock, Dick Francis and Stephen King. I have always tried to live by Leonard’s words: “Try to leave out the part that the readers tend to skip.” I don’t do a lot of deep descriptions, instead allowing for the reader to use imagination to fill in the blanks. The exceptions are the poker and horse racing scenes, where hopefully I was able to paint a picture for those of you who do not participate in either.
Discerning readers will notice some inconsistencies and mistakes. Those are by design, as Louis’ story was written under a haze of alcohol and weed.
There are too many people to thank, and I don’t want to turn this into an Academy Award acceptance speech, so I will do my best to keep it short.
Thanks to the following:
Cris Rodriguez, a former student of mine and a talented filmmaker whose interest in the film version forced me to finish the novel.
Scott Scully, one of my all time favorite gambling partners who will recognize a lot of the characters.
John McClain, who wrote the foreword for this. He is one of my oldest friends and helped keep me almost sane for 20 years at the Houston Chronicle.
Curt Meyer, a brilliant artist who did the cover work for Acing Racing as well as Jesus.
My father, the late Fred B. Faour, the greatest, funniest man who ever lived. An unbelievably talented journalist and an even better friend. The world is a darker place without him. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him.
Jeff Sotman, the best gambler I ever knew and a man who was as close to me as my brothers. We lost Jeff way too young. He was always there and helped me through some bleak times. I wished he had lived to see the final version of this.
David Gow, CEO of Gow Media, for being a great business partner, boss and friend who has always trusted my ideas for the company (including this) and has supported me through thick and thin.
And my family. My mom, Patricia, who could have been the one writing novels if things had gone a little differently; my grandmother, Lucille, who has kept everything I have ever written and every trophy I ever won; my brothers Patrick and John, who have always been there through every success and failure any of us had.
Of course, my son Will, who is a talented writer in his own right, and my daughter Katie, who vows to be more famous than me (she will be).
My awesome in-laws in Canada, Carl and Lois, who have become like an extra set of parents for me, and accepted me even after their daughter married an American.
And finally, most importantly, my wife Valerie, who has always pushed me, believed in me, but also chopped me down if I got too full of myself. So much of my success has been because she convinced me I could actually do it. I doubt this project would have ever happened without her.
Thanks to all of them, as well as those of you who read this book and for some reason are still reading now. I hope you enjoyed it, and hopefully this is just the beginning.