Accomplishment: Author of over thirty novels, scripts and numerous short stories, Joe Lansdale has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, and more, much more.
My eyes closed to a cold, whispering dark, and one particular whisper slug-like and cold: Shen Chuan. I felt its slimy body coil round mine, its eyeless head pressing closer, ever closer to my ear. Shen Chuan. The office shimmered, the floor trembled, and the desk calendar was doing crazy things. My lips peeled in a snarl as the room slowly dissolved in a swirling red mist. Shen Chuan. Sheri had brought me a commie, or worse, a wannabe Fu Manchu.
"Those ropes greased?" I said.
She nodded, gave Joe a look.
I was ready, the answers had to be good.
Does bestseller mean good writer?
Not at all. It doesn’t mean bad writer either. It depends from book to book. But certain stories or writers can catch a wave, and sometimes a publisher can decide to give them that wave, really decide this is it, this is our bestseller, and they push it. A lot of bestsellers seem like the same book to me, or at least the writer who makes it there then seems to write the same book over and over, providing a kind of literary pair of comfortable house shoes for the reader. But again, there are some very fine bestsellers out there, and fine writers who produce them. Every writer would love to hit that list. It spreads your readership, and your pocket book.
Would you see it as an exciting or a retrograde step if digitisation encouraged writers to choose sound and pictures to augment their words?
It might be interesting, and I’ve considered it as an interesting idea for a long time, but I’d hate to see that replace the written word. There’s a magic in developing an imagination. Younger people have higher IQ’s now, but seems to me they develop their imaginations less and less, it’s almost like it’s painful to them to slow down a little and let the mind create. There’s just so much going on all the time, they don’t know how to do that. That’s the thing I miss the most about the old days. I think the idea that the old days as we sometimes call them being better isn’t necessarily true, but sometimes we lose a little, even when we gain in other ways. Every generation generally thinks the old days were better, because they were younger and had less responsibilities, and most of us have good health in our youth. But if we’ve lost one thing important, it’s imagination.
Which four books do you wish you had written?
Oh, that’s easy. TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, LONESOME DOVE, TRUE GRIT.
Are you ever afraid that one day you will stop enjoying writing?
I love it so much, that is a fear. So far, though, I don’t see that happening.
Every writer has a weakness, what is yours?
I have many, I’m sure. But the one I’m aware of is Scope. I don’t think I have a lot of that.
Do you think writers have sell by dates and would you know yours?
I don’t think we know our own shelf life, and some have a shorter one than others. And when you get there, if you can still create, you might not know if you’re creating well or not, because it’s so much a part of what we do. Time eventually wears all things down, however, it’s just that some have longer times than others
Elmore Leonard listed ten rules, one of which is: 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel.' What rule or piece of advice would you add to the list, and if you know his ten rules, which one would you break?
I like Leonard’s list. But the main rule of writer is put your ass in a chair and write, and I would say if you do 'weather' well, write it. It’s one of my favorite things to read when it’s done well and somehow builds tension or sets mood in a story. I also like to write about weather, which is so much a part of living in East Texas, and I like to believe I do it reasonably well. One final rule. Let no rule rule you.
Wise words for a commie, I thought, but Sheri was whispering. "You've got it wrong, Clay. Shen Chuan is not what you think. Like he said - guy's a Texan. It's all here." She waved a small pocket book "He writes for real people. You'd like him, Clay. You've got to let him go - and buy his books," she hissed: 'All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky' At least give H.P Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror a try. It has pictures."
I threw him a smile, an apologetic one tight on the teeth. Sheri Lamour had been playing with us, with Joe as the fall guy.
"You want a whisky, Mr Lansdale?"