verb (used without object), bootlegged, bootlegging:
to make, transport, or sell something, especially liquor, illegally or without registration or payment of taxes.
I had the chance to pitch my story to some friends the other day. But as soon as bootlegging was mentioned, a listener said, “Oh! So NASCAR fans will love it.”
It was a depressing moment, to have my opus, exploring the impact of one’s choices and whether there is ever a good reason to break the law, reduced to souped up jalopies racing down dirt roads. To be sure, there will be a car chase or two in the novel, and even some souped up jalopies. But cars and racing are not really what the story’s about.
This got me thinking: what do people think of when they hear the term “bootlegging”? Is my friend spot on with his vision of NASCAR? Or is it Al Capone and mobsters or HBO’s Boardwalk Empire? Or maybe hillbillies and jugs of moonshine?
This is not a rhetorical question. I really need to understand what readers will expect when I answer the question “What’s your book about?” by saying, “After the stock crash of ’29, a midwestern farmer and his socialite wife find themselves in over their heads when they accept help from a local bootlegging kingpin in a last-ditch effort to save their farm.”
So, please, please, please… Comment. Answer the question. Tell me what picture comes to mind when you hear the term bootlegging.