"My Shit's Fucked Up"

Late in 2019, Art Taylor invited me to contribute a story to an anthology titled Lawyers, Guns and Money: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Warren Zevon, which he was co-editing with Libby Cudmore.

Although I've always loved Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Linda Ronstadt's covers of his "Hasten Down the Wind" and "Mohammed's Radio" and "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," I am otherwise not particularly familiar with or a fan of his work. But invitations to contribute to other editors' anthologies don't come my way often, so I called up a list of Zevon titles on my computer to see if anything caught my eye.

Something did: a song called "My Shit's Fucked Up." I wrote to Art and said that, if he was willing to include a story with that title in his book and if the song hadn't already been snatched up by someone else, I was in.

As I've said in various other places, I often slip Easter eggs -- in jokes that most readers will miss but that will please any eagle-eyed folks who do spot them -- into my stories, and I packed references to seventeen other Zevon songs into the story I wrote for Art and Libby ... plus several references to O. Henry's classic "The Cop and the Anthem," since my story's plot line was inspired as much by O. Henry's story as by W. Zevon's lyrics.

I submitted "My Shit's Fucked Up" to Art on January 1, 2020, and he and Libby liked it but asked me to make the ending not quite as pessimistic as I had it. I argued that Warren Zevon's songs in general are -- and this one in particular is -- totally pessimistic, but they weren't convinced, and I wound up adding just a glimmer of hope to the final paragraph, which Art and Libby agreed was good enough for them.

There were apparently some never-specified complications with the anthology's editorial process, and decisions and publication wound up being long delayed. I finally received a contract in February of 2021, and the book was published in June of 2022.

You can order the paperback and Kindle edition of Lawyers, Guns and Money here, or if you'd rather see more of your money go to the editors and contributors and less to Jeff Bezos, you can get the print book or an assortment of e-book formats directly from publisher Down and Out Books here.

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