Soda Can


The Title

Syrup spent most of its life called mktg, which is, of course, an abbreviation of marketing. I was never very thrilled with it, so when I was almost finished, I thought up 54 new names, one of which was Syrup. I think the worst of the lot was “6 Pack.”

The very first name of the book, which thankfully didn’t last very long, was “Marketing Bullshit.”


Almost all of Syrup was written in my lunch breaks at Hewlett-Packard, where I was working as a sales rep. I borrowed a laptop computer and worked in the passenger seat of my 1978 Toyota Corolla (which I later sold for $250).

The novel took about two years to write and edit. (I don’t know why everyone wants to know that, but they do. So there you go.)

6’s Hair

6’s hair used to be like chocolate springs: dark brown and very curly. It was warm, friendly (but controlled) hair, which I liked because it fit with how 6 maintains an attractive-but-unattainable exterior. Carolyn (my editor) and Todd (my agent) both found the curls incongruous: they argued it made it harder to visualize 6. I wasn’t completely sure about this one, but when these guys agree, I usually know better than to disagree with them. I changed 6’s hair to black and dead straight.

Of course, two years later the US trade paperback was issued with a curly-haired (or maybe that’s wavy-haired) 6 on the cover.

Sneaky Pete

I really did intend for Sneaky Pete to be Scat’s friend. The plan was that he, Scat, and 6 would be this dynamic team. When Sneaky Pete turned out to be, well, sneaky, I thought I’d have to change his name, because it seemed to give him away from the start. But then I decided it doesn’t. It’s too obvious.

The Summer Coke Campaign

The idea for the advertisement involving a fallen Coke machine was inspired by my friend Wil Anderson, an Australian comedian. He told me about how people were killed in this way, and I found the idea of all those people trapped under fallen Coke machines had a way of gripping the imagination. Scat and 6’s first film, Diet Life, is also named after Wil’s first stand-up show, which he was writing at the same time I was working on Syrup.


The character @ was almost called S&y (Sandy), because it reads a little like “sexy.“ Also, in an early draft Scat returned @’s kiss for a few moments at the end of Chapter 13 before breaking away. When my wife (Jen) read this she was outraged at his quasi-infidelity. She watched me change it. I’m glad I did.

The Beanmaster 2000

This is one of my favorite lines:

There’s a tiny coffee room at the back of the hangar, and it takes us ten minutes to coax a respectable cup of coffee from the ancient Beanmaster 2000.

I think “Beanmaster 2000” is hilarious. No-one else does.