“California will break you if you don’t watch out,” the old homeless man told me, “One slip and you’ll fall right through the cracks, just like I did.”

There is such a thing as a healthy fear of certain consequences. What this guy told me that day, in that alley, in the small cavity that I’d found where I could smoke my pot outside the bracing wind and where he’d made his bed, was never far from front of mind.

excerpted from my forthcoming novel, BANG