Guest post by Barbara Shoup

The best thing about writing a road trip novel is taking the road trip yourself, letting the landscape and people you see and the experiences you have along the way trigger insights about your characters and shape their story. In the case of my new book, Looking for Jack Kerouac, the road trip delivered me for a night in Nashville.

Set in 1964, the book is about a broken-hearted kid who takes off for Florida to find the author of On the Road. He meets salesmen, truckers, bigots, soldiers, good Samaritans and mermaids (yes, mermaids!) along the way. He falls in love with the ocean, makes new friends and, ultimately, tracks down Jack Kerouac, who’s nothing like he imagined, but who eases his heartache and sets him on the path to the next phase in his life.

How excellent that the book required research on Music Row, where I wandered up and down the street for hours, jotting details along the way—eventually ending up at Tootsies with the professional responsibility of staying up as long as I could. “Paul dances with the first girl he’s danced with since Kathy became his girlfriend in the eighth grade” my notes say. “Gets blasted, ends up sitting on the curb, reality crashing in on him.”

“Honey, you are knee-walkin’ drunk,” said a voice in my head.

Now I’m hitting the road again, this time to celebrate the publication of Looking for Jack Kerouac. On Monday, September 8, East Side Books will sponsor an event hosted by the Post Coffee Shop with Nicole Branigan, Jamie Zoe Givens, Chance Chambers and me in the spirit of Kerouac’s Beat Generation.

Be there or be square.

The Post Coffee Shop
6-8 PM
1701 Fatherland Street Ste A
Nashville, TN 37206

About Barbara Shoup
Barbara Shoup is the author of “Looking for Jack Kerouac” in addition to seven other books. Executive director of the Indiana Writers Center, her short fiction, poetry, interviews and essays have appeared in multiple small magazines, as well as The Writer and the New York Times travel section. Barbara has lived in Indiana all her life.

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