Blog relay: Talking Jerry Darn for “About a Character”
by John Counts
This is part of a blog relay to which the Great Lakes Review editor Rob Jackson invited me to participate in. Rob was invited by Don DeGrazia, author of “American Skin” and my thesis advisor when I earned an MFA at Columbia College Chicago. Basically, it’s a chain of writers all answering the same questions about a character. Read Don’s responses here. Read Rob’s responses here.
What is the name of your fictional (or historical) character? Where is the book set?
Jerry Darn is drunkenly marauding around Chicago in February of 2007.
What should we know about him?
Jerry was the frontman for the band, Strange Days, and quit right before they were about to make it big in the 1990s because of authenticity issues. He is bearded, has a giant gut and drinks recklessly. He also has a huge appetite for sex and opinions. He basically tries to live like a rock star but doesn’t have any of the money or fame. He’s about to turn 30 but has only left Chicago city limits once.
What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
His boyhood friend, Joe, is killed serving in Iraq. Jerry has to get their buddy, Mick, to the funeral. Mick was the second guitarist in Strange Days and went on to worldwide rock and roll success with his band The Cutlery, which he formed after Jerry flaked out and quit music. He now calls himself Mick Dagger.
What is the personal goal of the character?
Jerry wants to be true in life, art and love. More tangibly, he wants to make sure rock star Mick isn’t too cool to show up to the funeral. On the day-to-day, though, Jerry is happy with mugs of Old Style and trying to makeout with girls at his hangout bar, the Mutiny.
What is the title of this book, and can we read more about it?
Jerry Darn Nation. A short story of the same name was published in the Pure Fiction edition of the Chicago Reader in 2010. I’m wrapping up a draft of the novel now. Read the story here.