You know you’re in for the literary equivalent of a ghost pepper when a human sex slave auction is the jumping off point in the book you’re reading. In the case of A.S. Coomer’s latest novel, The Fetishists, the happenings only get darker and nastier the further you read and you’ll inevitably find yourself consuming this macabre tale just to find out where things can possibly go next. The story of a well-to-do gent with a taste for horseplay and slaves who makes a bad deal at a fly-by-night auction house, The Fetishists pulls out all the plugs. Yup.
A novelist and musician who frequently performs around Toledo, Coomer, a transplant from the horse lands of Kentucky, is living in the Glass City while his wife works through a medical school residency. So for the next year-and-a-half, we’ve got access to his brain and talent before his wife completes her training and, likely, he moves away. Hopefully, we make the most of it.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve always been a writer. When I was little, I thought I was going to write and draw for Batman. But then you get a little bit older and realize you can’t draw as well as you thought you could. But I could still write. Maybe one day, I’ll have a Batman novel? It’s the dorkiest goal for any writer ever, but one day…
How did the idea for The Fetishists come about?
I had laser eye surgery and I was at home, recovering. And it was the first time I could get out and I went for a walk in the woods, and I had this weird image of this really overprivileged, young, arrogant guy going to a party where you could buy sex slaves for the evening. And then flipping his life in the worst possible way I could possibly imagine. That was the premise. Originally, I was going to make it a sweet short story, but then it ended up a novella. And I thought, “Nobody buys novellas, so I’ve got to make it longer.”
What are you doing musically?
I play guitar and banjo and write songs. I’m a singer-songwriter, mostly folk and story songs, narratives. Toledo’s a weird town when it comes to music though. There are music venues, but it seems like most of the paying gigs around town that are steady, are like restaurant gigs. And I’m not trying to play for four hours. I don’t play covers, I just play the songs I write. That makes getting gigs in Toledo sometimes difficult.
Where’s your go-to place in Toledo?
If I’m just going to hang out? I go to The Attic. It’s a comfortable bar. That’s where I had the The Fetishists release party. Music, I’m usually playing at the OT (Ottawa Tavern). I’ve played Fleetwood’s a couple times. Expensive and nice. It’s a different crowd.
What do you think about Toledo? Cool burg or does it lack?
The first year I lived here, I hated this place. I thought ‘It’s a crass, unwelcoming city, nothing is happening.’ The more I’ve lived here though, the more I’ve gotten out of my shell and met people. There’s so much cool stuff happening. There are writers and musicians who are doing really cool stuff. The art scene is crazy— I’ve met some really good painters. I really like Toledo now, I’m going to be sad to leave it.
Buy The Fetishists from Amazon\any digital format platforms. Coomer will be playing a show at Music Go Round (4119 Talmadge Rd.) on Wednesday, August 2 at 7pm.