How to Be a Movie Star: The Return of Gustavo Tiberius

I have made no secret of my love for Gustavo Tiberius. He is, in my opinion, one of the best characters I’ve ever written.

It was such a joy to be able to write about him again, and to see the friendship Josy thrusts upon him, much to his chagrin.

And so here, for my last blog post before the release of How to Be a Movie Star, a little excerpt where Gus is…well.


For those worried about spoilers, fear not: this doesn’t give the plot of the book away.

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Gustavo scowled. “It had actually better be life and death. If it’s not, I will have my revenge.”

“It is,” Josy moaned, flopping down on the counter, laying his head on his arms.

“Is something wrong with the movie?”

“No. Worse.”

“Is someone sick?”

“My allergies gave me trouble yesterday, but I took a Zyrtec. But that’s not it. It’s worse.”

“Did someone die?”

“They might as well have! You’re getting warmer!”

“Is someone about to die?”

“Yes!” Josy cried, lifting his head. “And it’s me!”

Gustavo stared at him before nodding slowly. He leaned to the left, looking over Josy’s shoulder toward the front of the video emporium. Josy followed his gaze. The sidewalk was empty.

“I always knew this would happen,” Gustavo said. “I’m glad you’ve come to me.”

“You knew?” Josy asked. “Goddammit. Did everyone know?”

“I don’t know about anyone else. But I figured it out right away. I mean, it makes sense, if you really think about it.”

Josy frowned. “It does?”

Gustavo nodded. “I mean, it was bound to happen sooner or later. You’re in too deep.”

“How do you know that?” Josy demanded. “I didn’t even figure it out before today!”

“Because I know many things,” Gustavo said. “It’s what happens when you read encyclopedias.”

“Whoa,” Josy breathed. “I didn’t know that. Encyclopedias sound amazing. I’ve never used one before because I live in the twenty-first century, but still.”

Gustavo leaned forward on the counter. Josy felt better already. “First thing you need to do is to make sure you’re not being followed.”

This was good advice. “I wasn’t. No one even stopped me for a picture, which was really disappointing. I think I let those two girls who wanted my autograph go to my head. I’m a fame whore now.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. But it doesn’t matter. The second thing you need to do is destroy all your credit cards. They can trace you that way.”

Josy’s eyes widened. “They can?”

“Yes. Everything is traceable. Which brings me to the big one. You’re going to have to ditch the phone. That means no more social media.”

Josy gasped. “I can’t do that. What happens if someone posts a picture of their colorful sushi and I don’t see it?”

“It’s a price you’ll have to pay,” Gustavo said gravely. “If you’re going to go off the grid, you need to cut all ties with who you used to be.”

“Gustavo, no.”

“Josy, yes. They will find you unless you do exactly what I say.”

Josy was getting paranoid. “But—but what if I only looked at Instagram, like, three times a day?” He shook his head. “No, that’s crazy. Maybe twelve times a day.”

Gustavo scoffed. “You obviously don’t care if you die, then.”

“I do! I do care if I die!”

Gustavo slammed his hands down on the counter. “Then you need to start acting like it! Maybe a few years down the road when you’ve established a new life under a different name, you can think about making a new account, but only if you remember one thing, and one thing only. Are you ready to remember that one thing?”

Josy nodded furiously. “So ready.”

Gustavo leaned forward. “Here it is: selfies will get you killed.”

Josy took a step back. “No. That’s not… that can’t be true.”

“It is. If you’re going to go into hiding, then you need to remember that Josiah Erickson is dead. Whatever new name you pick for yourself, that is who you’re supposed to be. You’ll need to shave off your beard—”

“Anything but that! Why are you doing this? Why are you tearing me apart?”

“I’m trying to save your life!” Gustavo shouted. “The Hollywood Mafia is after you, and now that you’ve finally come to me to get free, I am doing everything I can. But you’re not listening.”

“I am listening! I swear. But you’re—wait. What.”

Gustavo squinted at him. “What what?”

“Who is after me?”

“The Hollywood Mafia.”

“They are? Why?”

Gustavo threw up his hands. “I don’t know! Probably because you’re in too deep! You’ve sold your soul for fame and money, and now you’re about to pay the price!”

Josy didn’t know he’d done any of that. It was a good thing he’d come here. “But… it’s just a movie!”

“That’s how it starts. First it’s a commercial. Then it’s a part in a TV show where you play a corpse.”

“Oh no,” Josy whispered. “I did those things.”

“And then you get the starring role in a movie about having sexual relations with animals—”

“Hold up. Time out. That’s not what the movie is about.”

“You made out with a man dressed like a lion.”

“Yeah, but it’s whimsical. Grady is an imaginary friend that became real who reminds my character of his one true love. It’s kind of like Calvin and Hobbes.”

Gustavo snorted. “Calvin never wanted to fuck the tiger.”

Josy gaped at him. “That’s—I don’t know that I’ve ever heard you say fuck before, man. It’s tripping me out. Also, that sentence really messed with my childhood memories.”

“And now you’re coming to me for help because you know the Hollywood Mafia is after you because you’ve stumbled upon their terrible secrets.”

Josy blinked. “That’s not why I’m here.”