GUESTLIST by Jay Fingers

Despite what many may say or believe, ideas don’t just pop into a writer’s head from out of nowhere. Writers are inspired by a great number of things, big and small, and when those disparate elements align at just the right moment – BOOM! – it’s like the Big Bang of inspiration or something. The idea hits and suddenly you’re like, “Whoa!”

Whoa. Neo.

For me, the idea of writing GUESTLIST actually came together very slowly. In the mid-aughts, I was very heavy in the Miami Beach nightlife scene. By day, I worked in operations and marketing for an entertainment company that owned and operated two of South Beach’s hottest nightclubs; by night, I hosted and managed parties at other venues as a side hustle. It was an interesting position in which to find myself because I found myself on both ends of the spectrum (the corporate end and the entrepreneurial end) and I dealt with two separate crowds within the same industry: the hip-hop/urban contingent and the electronic dance music group. Or, to put it even more bluntly, the Black crowd and the white crowd. Hey, that’s what it was.

Jay in the club

I was fortunate to get into the game with the assistance of some true heavy hitters. I began working with longtime South Beach promoters Tommy Pooch and Alan Roth at their company, TAI Entertainment. Tommy and Alan showed me the ropes and introduced me to the glamorous Miami Beach jet set crowd. They held parties at then-poppin’ venues like The Delano, The Raleigh, Touch Restaurant, and Suite Lounge. Sure, I started low on the totem pole – collecting emails and passing out flyers and such. But eventually Tommy and Alan gave me real responsibilities and made me feel like a valuable member of the team. For that, I’m forever grateful.

I then moved on to the now defunct Mantra Entertainment, where I basically did everything. The wonderful thing about Mantra was that it afforded me a true behind the scenes understanding of what goes on in the nightlife business. For most, it’s all about popping bottles of champagne and partying with the beautiful people. Sure, that’s much of it, but not all of it. The nightlife industry is a billion dollar business for a reason. It’s all about entertainment and marketing. The education I got working with Mantra is probably more valuable than the one I supposedly got in college.

Jay in the club

Not only that, I made a great deal of friends while working in nightclubs. You’d think that such relationships would be superficial and fleeting given the nature of the industry. Thankfully, that has not been the case.

While working with Mantra, I was also able to connect with a few of the city’s prominent club promoters and work with them on events as well. People such as Mike Gardner of Headliner Market Group, Phil the Mayor, and Michael Madd all contributed to my knowledge and experience working the club scene. Sometimes they taught me things outright; other times, I had to study their moves and learn on my own. But the thing is, I always kept a watchful eye on my elders in the game. Hey, you never know what you’ll discover next.

Jay in the club

I know, I know, this is a lot of background info. Why else do you think I’m splitting this into two parts? Haha! The point is, I know the world I’ve written about in my novel GUESTLIST. I know the world very well. I know the people – and that includes the partygoers, the promoters, the club owners, the club staff, the celebrities, everyone – and I know their stories. And so, when the inspiration hit me to tell some of these stories, well, I felt confident that I knew what I was doing.

Alright, I’ve bored you enough with background info. Next time, I will share with you the actual inspiration for GUESTLIST, what ignited the initial spark and how that, in turn, became the raging fire that is my debut novel.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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