The opening chapter of Rohypnol has the characters waiting outside Aleesa’s house, where they confront her and tell her to be quiet, then, when she won’t comply, they kidnap her. In the finale of this scene, when the narrator’s staring down Aleesa in the rear-view mirror, he tells her: ‘You’re going to regret that.’ This was influenced by the story ‘Two Men’ from Denis Johnson’s book ‘Jesus’ Son’.
Mush of the writing style of Rohypnol was influenced by Nick McDonnell’s ‘Twelve’. I’d often read sections of ‘Twelve’ before editing and re-writing, just to get a word flow in my head, a feel for the pace of that novel’s style. I do this pretty regularly, read something of a similar flow or style to which I’m aspiring before I re-write – I like to do the initial writing completely blank, so the style is completely my own, then refine and focus more by getting similar word rhythms.
Another book that had a large influence on the pace and style was Fight Club – this is most evident in the ‘New Punk’ scenes.
The chapter in Adelaide, when they’re driving out of town, being chased by men in another car, this was partly based on a real story a plumber once told me when he was at my parents’ house, fixing something. He told me how they were being chased and they turned their lights off so the car behind couldn’t see them.
Some of the ‘rules’ the gang follow were influenced by the rules of pick-up artists in Neil Strauss’ ‘The Game’.
The scene where Troy hits a taxi driver in the head is based on a real story someone once told me – in the real story, the guy belted the cabbie unconscious with a golf club.
The scene where Uncle and the narrator beat up a group of guys up on a train was based on a real story too – in the real story the guy picked up his girlfriend from the station and she told him about how some guy on the train was saying dodgy stuff, so they drove to the next station and her boyfriend got onto the train and beat the dude with a Club Lock.
My girlfriend, now wife, used to work at the Casino and the story of Thorley and the narrator going to the Casino when a man had cut his artery by punching out a window is true – I was there picking her up after work and there were ambulances and police and a small crowd gathered round and a trail blood down the steps. Apparently the guy had come out of the casino, punched through a plate glass window, shredding his artery as he did so, then died before he even made it back in. I felt very fragile after seeing this.
The story of Thorley and narrator getting a truck and driving up the freeway was inspired by the story ‘Car Crash While Hitch-hiking’ from Denis’ Johnson’s ‘Jesus’ Son’.
The story of a guy who hung himself off a bridge in the city – My Dad used to be an ambulance officer and he’s told me some stories about the goings on and things they have to deal with. Hangings like this happen more often than you’d think.
Not really an influence, but a note – the names of the letter writers in the chapter where the narrator is talking about what happened after they were arrested, several of the names are references to friends of mine. ‘J Locke, Essendon’ was a nerdy reference to the TV show ‘Lost’.
When his Dad says to him ‘You’ve broken my heart’ – a former girlfriend once said this to me. It hurt so bad.
When the narrator says ‘And I hope you fucking choke’ in the final New Punk section, this was a reference to the song ‘Exit Music’ by Radiohead.