Vince Ditrich said he’s met thousands of musicians over the years, and while some of them were world-class entertainers, 10 times as many were untalented dreamers waiting for their big break.
“They have always had a band in high school and always held onto the dream and held onto it and held onto it into their 30s and 40s and they can’t let it go,” said Ditrich, former drummer for B.C. rock group Spirit of the West. “It’s like a tattoo. It just won’t go away, even after you stop liking it.”
Ditrich tells the story of one such dreamer in his debut novel, The Liquor Vicar, out Aug. 17. The book follows Tony Vicar, a failed Vancouver Island musician who performs half-hearted Elvis impersonations at weddings. Vicar’s life turns around after he seemingly performs a miracle, but his celebrity attracts the wrong kind of attention and soon he and his oddball friends are faced with a crisis.
While this is Ditrich’s first book, he said he’s been writing his whole life, including the biographies and liner notes for Spirit of the West. Ditrich said he’s wanted to write a book since he was a child, and after his band retired in 2016, and following a health scare, he decided it was finally time to fulfill that dream.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I have to move along here. Turn the page and start a new chapter in my life,’ pardon the the pun,” he said.
One day he sat down and started typing and eventually he produced The Liquor Vicar, the first book in a trilogy. Ditrich said he had the idea for the story percolating in his mind for a long time and he also incorporated some ideas he got while coming up with “absolutely ridiculous scenarios” with his family one night.
“Everyone was falling over laughing and just having fun with it and I thought. ‘You know, some of these things that we’re just riffing here, they really could work if contextualized properly and said in the correct tone,’” Ditrich said. “And so I just gathered up all my mental notes and started including that kind of attitude in the writing.”
The Liquor Vicar is also a tale of redemption, as Tony Vicar finds a way out of his self-constructed rut and discovers a new direction in life. It’s a story that may offer hope to others hopelessly “seduced by the rock ‘n’ roll dream.”
“They end up doing silly things with their lives because they always want to leave themselves open for the great possibility of becoming a superstar with their guitar, whereas in fact they may have tremendous capabilities in some completely unrelated or seemingly unrelated field,” Ditrich said. “And I think a lot of people are really talented but they chase the wrong dream.”
The Liquor Vicar is available Aug. 17.