“There are three things I learned that summer that I’m absolutely sure of. . .
First, skinny waists and drug habits will almost certainly lead to bad decisions.
Second, groupthink is toxic. Never trust your livelihood on the shoulders of others.
Last, don’t get hung up on two girls in the middle of a drug war.
That’s exactly where we found ourselves in the summer of 1992. After our unlikely cast of expatriates grew attached to one another, it was only a matter of time before reality got up from under us.”
Get in the Mood
While writing the novel, I grabbed inspiration for the lifestyle I was trying to convey through Pinterest boards like this one.
I’ve curated a Spotify playlist that I thought best communicates the attitudes and lifestyles of the characters from Summer of ’92. In addition, check out my biggest source of inspiration during a month disconnected from the world on Lake Michigan which is where I wrote most of the novel.
You can also take a look at some of my photography during the period of my life which I was writing. I took a strong interest in street photography and even more heavily focused on an alternative perspective.
Hopefully, each of these helps you in forming a relationship with the characters from the novel.
I thought about the positive and negative aspects of a lot of places and where to set the story. Originally, I wrote the manuscript set in Malta; a place I’d lived over two years.
While writing, though, I realized I was including too many personal details in the story. Summer of ’92 is not based on events from my life. I’ve included some personal stories but have twisted them so far that I cannot consider them my own. I am not ‘Jack’ and I didn’t want readers to get that confused.
Madrid became the obvious city for the first half of the novel. I knew it had to be somewhere in Europe and there are few cities that scream European culture more-so than Madrid.
“I never dreamed of living in a city so ancient as Madrid of ‘92. Mailmen walked their routes and mules still ran the trash collection simply because roads were too narrow. Neighborhood markets were too uniquely hidden to shop elsewhere. It felt like you were a part of a secret society once you finally found them; most just large enough for one or two customers at a time and three was always a crowd. Shop owners could run an errand and leave their shop open without worrying about being robbed. Here, small businesses sat solemnly underneath century-old flats – these that comprised our neighborhood.
In Spain, each morning saw the same routine. Adolescents stumbled home from parties at dawn followed by the elderly up early for sunrise strolls. Then, came the café owners slowly opening shop, unstacking café chairs to the sound of clattering dishes echoing through the alley. Finally, noisy tourists livened the streets starting the day around ten o’clock. It happened every morning and every bit of the routine was calming and beautiful.
I’d sit days in tiny Spanish cafés. Spanish radio stations played music in a dialect that may as well have been Russian or another language I hadn’t spent four years learning in high school. I’d pass time watching Spanish couples eat slowly, falling deeply in love with each other as if they had nothing else to do. They held hands and looked at each other and gave soft kisses better than anybody else in the world. Europe isn’t known as the Old World for nothing – it’s timeworn for the better.
The look of admiration Spaniards had for each other was something I was able to appreciate from café tables around the city. Why is Paris the capital of romance when a city can be so beautiful as Madrid in the summertime? The people are just a delight, an absolute delight. I love Spaniards – every last one of them.”
Colombian Drug Conflict (Novel Research)
The Cartel de Barranquilla was the cocaine gang of the north coast of Colombia and other Caribbean countries. It operated out of Barranquilla and had spread to Cartagena by the middle Eighties. However, Cartagena’s population still more than doubled in size during the years of 1976-93 largely due to Colombians fleeing to Cartagena for safety from more dangerous cities.
The leader of this cartel was Alberto Orlandez Gamboa a.k.a. El Caracol (The Snail) who was considered as ruthless as Pablo Escobar. The organization transshipped significant amounts of cocaine to the United States and Europe via the smuggling routes it controlled from Colombia’s North Coast through the Caribbean. As head of the organization, Gamboa depended on his close associates to conduct the organization’s operations and to insulate himself.
As is typical with many Colombia-based organizations, Gamboa compartmentalized his business dealings. In addition, the success of Caracol’s Barranquilla-based drug trafficking organization was attributed, in part, to the respect the drug organization received from other traffickers operating on Colombia’s North Coast. DEA Intelligence indicated that traffickers paid taxes to Gamboa’s organization in order to be allowed to ship drugs out of the North Coast. His influence in this region was so strong that traffickers even asked him for permission before conducting assassinations.
The northern cartel’s members were Jose Reinaldo Fiallo Jacome a.k.a. El Nano, Jairo Duran Fernandez a.k.a. El Mico Duran (The Monkey), the congressman for the department of Magdalena Alex Duran Fernandez, brother of El Mico Duran, Cruz Antonio Gonzalez Peña a.k.a. Crucito Gonzalez, Gustavo Salazar Bernal, Alexander Enrique Batalla a.k.a. El Alto (The High), and last but not least, the Nasser Arana family. This family was led by Julio Cesar Nasser David a.k.a. El Turco (The Turkish) and his ex-wife Sheila Arana W.
The cartel originally imported most coca from Bolivia and Peru, processing it into cocaine inside Colombia and then distributing it through most of the trafficking routes and distribution points in the United States, including Florida, California and New York.
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