Off the Record 2 Now Available

Off the Record 2: At the Movies — a charity anthology packed with great short stories — is now available for e-readers! (It’s on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords.)

Sales of the collection benefit the National Literacy Trust in the U.K. and the Children’s Literacy Initiative in the U.S., and it costs just $2.99/£1.99 … so get your copy today! (A paperback version will be available soon.)

All of the stories in this anthology share their titles (but often little else) with well-known films like Unforgiven, Weekend at Bernie’s, and From Here to Eternity. I haven’t read them all yet, but I’ve read a handful and have been uniformly impressed.

Luca Veste, one of the project’s editors, contributed the heartbreaking “Goodfellas,” while “Silver Dream Racer” by co-editor Paul D. Brazill has convinced me to stay off the streets after dark. Other personal favorites among the stories I’ve read so far are A.J. Hayes’ “Dead Man” (sparse, wry and brutal) and “The Graduate” by Eric Beetner (tense, clever and brutal).

My contribution is “American Beauty” and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie. It’s about professional wrestling, which I was a big fan of back in the 1980s. The Four Horsemen, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper … all larger-than-life personalities who captured my imagination.

For “American Beauty,” I drew a little inspiration from the death of Charles Eugene Wolfe, Jr., who wrestled under the ring name Gino Hernandez. More often than not, Gino was the bad guy, the heel, but he had an abundance of ring presence and charisma. (In March 1977, when he was 19, Gino wrestled in a preliminary match at Madison Square Garden, which one publication described as “The Night a Kid Set the Garden on Fire.”)

Unfortunately, “Gorgeous Gino” also had some demons. In February 1986, at the height of his popularity, he was found dead in his home. As described at Wikipedia, “Initially, Hernandez’s death was ruled a homicide case, but following autopsy reports, his death was ruled [the] result of an overdose of cocaine. Many people believe Gino was murdered in a drug-related incident.”

Here’s a clip of Gino from early in his career. He teams with Tully Blanchard (as a duo, they held many tag team titles) to take on Scott Casey and Terry Allen (later, and better, known as Magnum T.A.):

And here’s a great clip of Gino being interviewed after a match:

On another note, one of the characters in my story is named Linwood Guns. I would have never thought of the name “Linwood” for a character if not for this tweet by Duane Swierczynski:

Which inspired me to do this research:

And:

With that, my thanks to Luca and Paul for including “American Beauty” in the anthology. It’s a real honor, and I hope Off the Record 2 raises a lot of money for two great charities!

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