Novelist S.G. Browne, who loves books he can get lost in, believes readers of all stripes will relate to superstitious practices, even if they know better.
Perhaps you've never heard of "luck poaching," the concept behind S.G. Browne's latest novel, "Lucky Bastard." That's probably because luck poaching is largely Browne's creation.
It "was inspired by a film I saw in 2002, a Spanish film called 'Intacto,' " he recalls. "It dealt with the idea of luck as a commodity, and the transference of luck from those who have the least amount to those who have the most."
Browne concocted his own mythology, and invented so-called luck poachers. His novel "Lucky Bastard" is a neo-noir set in San Francisco that combines classic noir elements with the paranormal, a blend that Browne utilized in past novels "Breathers" and "Fated."
Some have dubbed the genre "urban fantasy," but Browne is reluctant to apply that label to his work. He says his books have more in common with the tradition of magical realism, in which fantastical events simply happen.
"I have that supernatural background, and I like sticking with something supernatural and fantastic," Browne explains. "There are things going on in our world that we might not understand, and maybe there's not a reason for it."
Browne's interest in the supernatural ties in to his love of Stephen King. He identifies "The Talisman" - co-written by King and Peter Straub - as one of the books that taught him the joy of reading.
"It was the first time I'd ever read a book that I got so wrapped up in the story unfolding in the pages that the world around me ceased to exist," Browne reflects. "So I think that's always at the back of my head, writing a book that I can get lost in and that hopefully someone else can."
Fans of Browne's "Breathers," a tongue-in-cheek love story about two zombies coping with life after death, will be pleased to note that "Lucky Bastard" retains the same sense of humor. And rest assured, Browne isn't necessarily done with zombies, noting that he's been toying around with a sequel to "Breathers."
"I have to make sure that it's something new and fresh for me," he says. "Relying on old material is not anything I want to do."
But "Lucky Bastard" may prove more relatable than "Breathers": Browne's readers probably have their own beliefs about good luck and bad juju.
"I've always had a little superstition here and there," Browne confides. "You have no control, but you think, 'Oh, maybe if I do this.' It's things that don't make any sense, but you do them anyway."
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This article appeared on page G - 17 of the San*Francisco*Chronicle