Illustrations by Michel Casarramona
1st edition (german language) Walde & Graf, September 2012
This is my first novel to make it's debut in translation. I am very proud to be working with Walde and Graf again, who did such a great job on the German edition of Sick City. Black Neon is the sequel to Sick City, and follows the further adventures of Randal and Jeffrey.
1st Edition (Italian language) Playground Libri, November 2013
BLACK NEON is the next project of the legendary and reclusive filmmaker Jacques Selzer. The movie will be unlike anything anyone has ever seen before - at least according to the rumors that have circulated for years in Hollywood. When he is finally coaxed out of retirement to complete it the first thing Seltzer does upon his arrival in Hollywood is hire Randal and Jeffrey - the legendary anti-heroes of SICK CITY - to help him research the world of dealers, addicts, prostitutes and seedy motels. Soon the line between life and art has been erased and everybody involved is on a trip they will never forget... if they manage to survive it.
Randal P. Earnest, thirty-eight year old black sheep of the Earnest film dynasty, six-months clean and holding onto sobriety with slipping fingers, was sitting in the doctor's office, waiting to hear the results of his test. The Doctor was an old, fat Russian called Titov. The test itself had been surprisingly quick, and so far the doctor had spent more time reading Randal's answers than Randal had spent filling out the questionnaire. Titov studied the paperwork in front of him for several minutes, his grey, bushy eyebrows furling and unfurling in concentration, before he leaned across the table and told Randal that - regretfully - the results were positive.
There was a frozen moment in the room, as the two men regarded each other. Randal's receding bleach-blonde hair had almost totally grown out to it's natural black and his pale, watery eyes hid shivering in his skull like a couple of paranoid crack heads holed up in a thirty-dollar-a-night motel room. He had once been handsome, for sure, but the steady accumulation of self-loathing and sobriety weight had made the face in the mirror almost unrecognizable to itself. Although he had been expecting a positive diagnosis from Titov, Randal still felt a palpable sense of relief. He felt the urge to reach across the desk and kiss the old fucker right on the lips. Instead he just nodded sagely, his face a mask of acceptance and regret.
"The positive result is the bad news," the Doctor said in his thick, Russian accent. "However, the good news is that there are many options open to us, and I am to suggest that we begin treatment immediately."
At this late stage in his life, Randal P Earnest had just been informed that he suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder - a cognitive defect that made concentrating on many everyday tasks incredibly difficult. For the past few months he had been working at the behest of his older brother at a new subsidiary of Dreamscape Studios, called Chainsaw Pictures. Randal thought of all of the meetings he had suffered through these past few months with Chainsaw Pictures head honcho Kenny Azura. The wunderkind at the helm of Chainsaw was an insufferable little shit-sucker with a carefully manicured goatee and the manner of an over privileged child. Azura's reputation was built upon his uncanny ability to attach himself to projects that ultimately hit big at the box office. The word was that he had nearly destroyed several of these movies in the process, throwing production into chaos with his megalomaniacal demands and his legendary mistreatment of writers. In fact among Hollywood screenwriters Kenny was particularly loathed. He had a tendency to fire anyone who disagreed with him and was even rumored to have personally re-written scripts himself, in flagrant violation of Screenwriters Guild rules. The word on the lot was that Azura often had to be worked around, and the many films he took a producers credit on had succeeded despite his involvement, not because of it. Still when the films were released, Kenny Azura was sure to be seen on the red carpet performing a victory lap, and giving interviews to all the major networks about bringing "his movie" to the big screen. At best Azura was an astute motherfucker who had an uncanny knack for predicting when a movie would be a hit. At worst - and this was certainly Randal's perception - he was nothing more than a ruthless self-promoter who'd had the outrageous good fortune to stumble upon several projects so good that not even an idiot like Kenny Azura could fuck them up. Either way he had a notable track record of success, and in the movie industry box office receipts were one thing that could not be argued with.
Randal thought of himself shifting from buttock to buttock while the stupid bastards who bankrolled the crap that Chainsaw was working on rambled endlessly about test audiences, demographics, viral campaigns and script re-writes. He'd sit there day after day, week after week, staring out of the window and wishing he was holed up win a sleazy motel with a couple of Filipino whores and an eight-ball of crystal meth. It was a comfort to have it confirmed by a medical professional that this wasn't some kind of moral defect on Randal's part, but instead a medical disorder that could easily be treated with liberal doses of Amphetamine Salts. After all, for poor, unfortunate souls like Randal P Earnest, without Amphetamines in their system it was almost impossible to concentrate on anything.