Lunch With the Do Nothings at the Tammy Dinette
by Killian B. Brewer
Cover Design by C.B. Messer
Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is very lucky to be interviewing Killian Brewer author of Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette.
Hi Killian, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hey, y’all! I’m Killian Brewer, though most people just call me Brew. I’m a Southern boy, raised in the land of peaches and peanuts. I grew up in a tiny little town in a house where we would entertain each other by telling stories. My father can spin a yarn with the best of them and taught me early to enjoy the fellowship of storytelling. I went to college and earned my degree in English Literature, mostly because of my love of a good story. Of course, like most English majors, I don’t use that degree at all in my day job, but it does come in handy for my writing.
My current novel, Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette, was inspired by the people I grew up around in South Georgia. I wanted to explore what life could be like for a young gay man who is suddenly transplanted in a small town with little understanding of the way of life there. In particular, I wanted to follow his search for love and a sense of family in a world where he feels like a fish out of water. I also wanted to write about older southern women, because I think they are awesome.
- What is the biggest thing people think they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
I think a lot of people assume that most people in the South are conservative, close-minded and bigoted. While it is true that we have more than our fair share of people like that, I discover that the older I get the more people I meet who are not that way. One big area where this has changed is acceptance of LGBTQ people and issues. As a teenager, I never could have imagined living as an openly gay person in Georgia. But now I do just that. My very religious and conservative family and friends have come a long way and are now very open and accepting of me and my partner. I think the biggest reason for this change is that with more people being out of the closet, Southerners are discovering they already know and love someone who is gay. Once you realize you care for one gay person, it is easier to be accepting of all gay people.
- What are some references you used while writing this book?
I really didn’t have to use too many references while writing this book since so much of it is based on my own life experience. The ways of small-town life are very familiar to me and these women in this book are all amalgamations of various women I grew up around. However, I did find myself on the web checking on diner slang. I knew a few phrases from many a late night cup of joe at the local diner, but I needed more to flesh out the story. I found a few websites that listed diner slang, and found myself laughing out loud at some of the funnier phrases. I also had to check the web a few times to make sure that references I made to some classic country singers were accurate.
- Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My family is a group of storytellers. Whenever we are together, eventually the conversation rolls around to everyone telling their favorite stories from our past and amusing anecdotes about people we all know. Humor is always an important part of these stories. We also love wordplay, puns and music. In college, I decided to take some writing classes and discovered that the storytelling I grew up learning from my family translated well into writing. I was always a voracious reader as well, but would sometimes find myself wishing a story had gone a different direction. From this I began to think of my own stories that I would like to tell.
- What do your plans for future projects include?
I currently have several projects in the very early stages. Most of them are just ideas for characters and situations that I need to see what they can develop into. One is a much darker and less humorous story than I normally write. Another involves a paranormal element, which will be a departure for me in style as well. But mainly, I am working on a possible sequel to Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette that will focus more on the lives of the waitresses who work in the diner and one of the supporting characters, Skeet Warner.
- Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Mainly that I hope they will enjoy spending time in the little town that I have created. I love my home state of Georgia and it pleases me to be sharing a(albeit fictionalized) piece of it with the world. I also encourage my readers to create their own Do-Nothing club. Find a group of people you really enjoy being around and set aside a little time each week or month to get together and do absolutely nothing. I think the enjoyment and fellowship it brings will be infinitely rewarding.
When Marcus Sumter, a short order cook with dreams of being a chef, inherits a house in small town Marathon, Georgia, he leaves his big city life behind. Marcus intends to sell the house to finance his dreams, but a group of lovable busybodies called the Do Nothings, a new job at the local diner, the Tammy Dinette, and a handsome mechanic named Hank cause Marcus to rethink his plans. Will he return to the life he knew, or will he finally put down roots?
The diner took up a quarter of the city block; its silvery siding glimmered in the morning sun. A metal bracket jutted over the diner door and held a bright neon sign that flashed The Tammy Dinette: Stand By your Ham and Eggs. Below the sign, two tall and wide single-paned windows showed the bustle of the crowd inside. Marcus could see that most of the booths along the windows were occupied, and a tall redheaded waitress stood next to one of the booths furiously scribbling on a pad and nodding her head.
“Let’s go,” Skeet said as he hopped to the door and yanked it open. He swept his arm across his body and said in a terrible British accent, “After you, my good sir.”
Marcus grinned at the boy and stepped into the diner. The sudden rush of country music mixed with the murmur of the restaurant crowd, the smell of greasy food and coffee, and the glare of fluorescent lights from the Formica tables and counter tops flooded Marcus with a sense of relief and comfort. The last bits of tension slipped from his shoulders as he watched the two waitresses in pink uniform tops and skirts scurry from table to table as different patrons raised their hands to get each woman’s attention.
“Now sign here.” Raff pointed out a line at the bottom of a paper. “Then initial here.”
Marcus scribbled his name where instructed, then set the pen gently on the table. He read the final paragraph of the will to himself one more time. To my grandson Marcus, I leave all my other worldly possessions, my assets and most importantly, my house, so that maybe, just once in his life, that poor boy can have a real home.
“So, it’s all mine?”
“Well, it has to go through probate and such, but yes. Basically, it’s all yours.”
“And I have to live in the house? I mean, she says she wants it to be my home.”
“Oh, good lord, boy,” Helen said and laughed. “Your grandmother was a former mayor’s wife, not the queen of England. It’s a will, not a proclamation.”
“My mother is correct. You can do with the assets as you see fit, once her few debts are paid off.”
“So I could sell it?”
“If that’s what you desire. As a matter of fact, my wife, Katie Nell, is one of the most successful realtors in Marathon. I’m sure she could sell it for you in a heartbeat if you want.”
“Raff, you quit trying to drum up business for that nitwit wife of yours.” Helen picked up the pen from the table and inspected it before opening her purse and dropping it in. “Marcus, you don’t have to decide anything right now. Why don’t you spend a little time here and see what you want to do with it? How soon do you have to be back where you came from? Back in…?”
“Um, Atlanta.” Marcus let his eyes wander off from Helen to the photographs on the wall behind her. “No rush. Nothing important waiting on me there.”
“Then it’s settled. You stay here for a few weeks at least and see what you want to do. The other Do Nothings and I have already gone through your grandmother’s house and got it nice and clean for you. Of course, there’s no real food in there, but we’ll get you settled, and I’ll bring over something for you to eat tonight. Tomorrow, we will run you up to the Piggly Wiggly and stock you up.”
“Well, I guess I can stay until the house sells at least.” Marcus looked at the table as Raff slid a manila envelope across the table to him.
“Here are your copies of all the paperwork. There are a bunch of things in there. Here are the keys to the house.” Raff pushed a key ring across the table. “And I wrote Katie Nell’s number on the front of the envelope so when you get ready to sell—”
“If you sell it,” Helen interrupted her son. “You never know, little man, we might just charm you into staying.”
Over the course of the next month, Marcus fell easily into the rhythm of his new life in the diner. The black ring around his eye faded, and thoughts of Robert and his mangled car began to fade as well. Francine and he perfected their frenzied dance around each other behind the grill when the diner was filled to capacity. As he worked, the familiar tools of spatula, whisk, and knife once again became extensions of his hand, and the smells of bacon frying and eggs cooking made his appetite for food and life return. The silly names the sisters invented for customers made Marcus belly laugh, the sensation of it bubbling up in his chest an almost-forgotten pleasure. With each passing day, it grew easier to rise early in the morning and catch a ride to the diner with Francine or one of the girls.
The only part of the day he dreaded was life outside the diner and returning to a too-quiet house filled with photographs of people who shared his face and name, but who were complete strangers. The house was in theory his home, but it still seemed as if he was intruding on someone else’s space. He hadn’t bothered to unpack the few clothes left in his duffel bag or put away the clean clothes from the laundry basket on the bedroom floor. In the silence of his grandmother’s house, he would hear the ringing of Robert’s plaintive texts, the nagging thoughts about what to do with his wrecked car, and the haunting words of his mother, “Baby, it’s time to move on.”
More and more, he lingered well past the end of his shift at the diner to avoid going to the house. Usually he would end his day by wandering over to the Do Nothing’s corner booth to check on the latest town gossip or to see how preparations for the hoedown were going. Marcus would shuffle his way into the booth and tuck himself between Helen and Inez so that the women could explain to him who each person they gossiped about was. Most of the names meant nothing to him until he began to connect them with their usual orders, just as he had at the Waffle Barn. The more stories the Do Nothings told about the customers who hurried in and out of the diner daily, the more the citizens of Marathon seemed like friends. He would sit happily silent and let the women’s laughter and rapid-fire words sooth his work-weary muscles as he sank into the padding of the booth.
But not today.
He had finished cleaning the cooking area, flung his apron onto its hook, and headed into the dining room. He’d been tired but, for the first time since Robert had pressured him to quit working at the Waffle Barn in Atlanta, he’d felt useful again. As he’d reached the kitchen door, he’d caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Despite the hard work and grueling heat of the kitchen, he’d seen that he wore a pleased smile, a smile he wasn’t sure he had worn since the days after his mother and before Robert. He’d straightened his back and nodded at himself in the mirror. Hello, stranger. Where’ve you been? With the smile lingering on his lips, he had glanced through the porthole window in the swinging door and seen Hank Hudson standing at the counter.
About the Author
Killian B. Brewer grew up in a family where the best way to be heard was to tell a good story, therefore he developed an early love of storytelling, puns and wordplay. He began writing poetry and short fiction at 15 and continued in college where he earned a BA in English. He does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He currently lives in Georgia with his partner and their dog. Growing up in the South gave him a funny accent and a love of grits. The Rules of Ever After is his first novel.
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