Local Author Pens Political Satire, Thinks Best Candidate Should Be a Beagle

Author Lou Aguilar stands in front of his bookshelf.
Author Lou Aguilar stands in front of his bookshelf.
Courtesy of Lou Aguilar

The advice we get when we are particularly disgusted by a politician is to hold our nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. But wouldn't it be nice if instead of having to choose between a billionaire narcissist and a two-faced phony, there could be a candidate who was lovable and loyal? Like a dog? That's the starting point for local writer Lou Aguilar's debut novel, Jake for Mayor. In it, a homeless beagle is put on the ballot to be mayor of a Colorado town.

New Times caught up with the Key Biscayne resident about his inspiration for the book, South Florida's impact on his writing, and how he thinks a dog would do in a presidential race against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. 

New Times: What gave you the idea for Jake for Mayor?
Lou Aguilar: Twenty years ago, I was a struggling screenwriter in Venice Beach. It was just my luck that the most stunning showbiz aspirant I met was another writer, Tammy Norton, from Erie, Colorado. She told me her hometown had just had a dog run for mayor and could this be a story that, say, Disney might do? My screenplay from our story got optioned several times but always hit some weird Hollywood snag. So a year ago, I chose to make it my first novel.

Were there any books or movies that you used as touchstones for the novel?
The Music Man. I couldn’t make a dog-for-mayor yarn work unless an adult protagonist learns a life lesson from it. A fast-talking shyster trying to con small-town "rubes" for his own profit before finding religion seemed the perfect fictional take on a true story. And the gold standard for this is the classic film of Meredith Wilson’s play. The runnerup inspiration was the brilliant rom-com Teacher’s Pet, with slick newspaperman Clark Gable falling for idealistic journalism teacher Doris Day.

Has living in Miami influenced you as a writer?
I’m Cuban, so Miami’s fast-paced, rhythmic, ethnic beat is a daily spur to productivity. Starting the day with a strong coffee really brings out the Hemingway in me — even if I fall short on the page. It helps to be the son of a beloved essayist, Luis Aguilar Leon, who touched Latinos across the whole class spectrum. Jake for Mayor isn’t it, but I plan to write my own Miami novel one day that will tell the unique generational story of people from a fallen country trying to keep their new homeland from making similar mistakes.

What can we expect at your author event at the Key Biscayne Community Center?
Lunch With an Author will be the official launch of my novel and my first public event for it. I’m rather nervous and unsure of what to expect. Early indications are that it will be a large, enthusiastic crowd ready to be entertained by a witty raconteur, but they’ll have to settle for me. Seriously, it should be great fun, and the book will make up for all my public speaking deficiencies. Attendees should be people of all ages since the book has cross-age appeal. Youngsters will enjoy hero dog Jake's antics, and adults the political humor and romance — and Jake's antics.

What else are you working on now?
I’m back in the Hollywood maze with a military thriller project, Task Force Black, about a combined U.S./UK Special Forces unit that gets betrayed on a secret mission. It’s the opposite of book writing in that you get a hundred director or producer notes at every phase, and you have to comply with them or the process halts. One note said I can’t use Iran as the antagonistic state because it would undermine Obama’s Nuclear Deal, which was my original intent. So I have to fabricate a country, like Beran. For my sanity, I'll be sticking to novels soon.

How do you think Jake would do if he ran for president against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?
Funny you should ask. My book was scheduled to come out in September but was rushed up to early June to take full advantage of an election year that seems to be a satire. A recent lede in a political story said it all for me: “What’s the difference between your widely despised candidate and ours? About three points.” Jake might not be able to beat Trump or Hillary in a race for the White House, but he’d crush them both on likability.

Lunch With an Author: Lou Aguilar
Noon Thursday, June 16, at the Key Biscayne Community Center. Visit keybiscayne.fl.gov. To purchase Jake for Mayor, visit Aguilar's listing on Amazon.com

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