After drinking 90 bloody marys during the 90 days of summer, Long Beach-based writer Shelley Buchanan is putting her research to work by publishing The Drunken Tomato, Southern California’s first bloody mary city guide.
"Bad bloody marys are just plain bad," Buchanan said. "I want to help people avoid the heavy, salty, paste-like messes that give bloody marys a bad name."
After reviewing bloody marys from Portland, Oregon to New York City to Geneva, Switzerland for the past two years, Buchanan has set her tomato-based cocktail sights on bars and restaurants in Southern California, ultimately creating the first comprehensive bloody mary city guidebook ever made.
To help with the publication costs, she's launched a Kickstarter campaign. If you'd like to help make this unique beverage guide you can contribute to her campaign and receive fun perks, as well. Pledge levels range from $5 to $100 and offer rewards such as print and digital editions of the book, a limited edition T-shirt, and an all-inclusive “Bloody Mary Enthusiast Package.”
The Drunken Tomato, which includes more than 90 in-depth reviews accompanied by detailed, full-color photos, takes readers on a bloody mary-filled journey through the best cocktail-slinging bars and restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Recently, Buchanan answered a few questions for this column about being a writer and being inspired by her surroundings.
Carma Spence: What types of genres do you like to write?
Shelley Buchanan: I enjoy food and travel writing mostly with a little bit of literary memoir and a whole lot of writing about bloody marys.
CS: Where do you get your ideas?
SB: I often get my best ideas when I’m around water, whether it be the shower, washing the dishes or walking on the beach. There is something about the sound that is not only soothing but also conducive to deep thought.
CS: Did you always like writing?
SB: I wouldn’t say I always liked it; I’d rather say that I felt compelled to do it. As a child, I started out just journaling. I wrote because I needed to get the words out. Now, I enjoy crafting a narrative, getting into the nitty gritty details of life experiences and sharing my story.
CS: Do you have a set schedule to do your writing?
SB: Absolutely not. I tend to write when I first wake up and right before I go to sleep at night, but I never plan it that way.
CS: How do you feel about the current state of writing? Is this a good time for writers?
SB: I think it’s a great time for writers. With the rise in blogging and self-publishing, more writers are able to get their ideas and work out to readers without having to rely on the lengthy and sometimes creatively smothering process of traditional publishing.
CS: What is the best advice you've ever received as a writer?
SB: Just get your ideas down, even the bad ones. There’s nothing worse than forgetting a great idea, and even a bad idea can inspire you to think in a different way.
CS: What is the best advice you can give as a writer?
SB: Take time between writing drafts. Even if it’s just standing up and walking around for a bit, a little distance can provide fresh eyes and a new approach.
CS: What's next for you and your writing?
SB: I am currently finishing my first book, The Drunken Tomato: A Definitive Guide to the Best Bloody Marys in Los Angeles and Orange County, and I look forward to publishing it in December of this year. I am also running a Kickstarter campaign, www.kickstarter.com/projects/575113385/the-drunken-tomato, where people can pre-order the book.
CS: Are you a Long Beach native? or a transplant?
SB: I am a recent Long Beach transplant. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, lived in New York City for six years and, after a very brief stint in Pasadena, moved to Long Beach one year ago.
CS: What do you like about being a writer in Long Beach?
SB: Long Beach is a great place to find inspiration, whether it’s relaxing on the beach, walking down 2nd Street or just socializing with the many different kinds of people that live here. Also, it’s not LA, and that’s a good thing.
To learn more about Buchanan's bloody mary fueled adventures and her upcoming publication, visit her blog at www.DrunkenTomato.com.
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