A bit of a departure--I want to give a shout-out to my writer buddy, Cort McMeel and his just-released novel, Short, which is climbing up the bestseller lists and deservedly so.
Cort just emailed me to tell me he'd just given me a shout-out in an interview with Jenny Shank he just did for New West and I wanted to share it with you. In it, he said in part:
An Interview with Cortright McMeel"Short" is a funny, talented debut novel by a Denver's Cortright McMeel.
By Jenny Shank, 1-03-11
|Cortright McMeel, photographed by Sam Holden.|
New West: What brought you to Denver?
Cortright McMeel: My wife has always wanted to live here near the mountains so we could ski more. I got a look at an energy trading firm out here three years ago and we took the shot. It’s been excellent, especially for the kids, and we’ve never looked back.
NW: Your first novel, Short is set mainly on the east coast—have you set anything you’ve written in Colorado?
CM: As soon as I arrived, I found out that Doc Holliday died in Glenwood Springs. I took a trip to visit his grave. Ever since I have been doing research on a novel about his final stint in Leadville. One chapter is written, and the project is one that is very personal to me and one that I am excited about.
NW: You earned an MFA at Columbia before entering the fields of advertising and then trading. Was it always your plan to study writing, and then find a job that it was easier to make a living at afterward?
CM: “Plan” is a strong word to apply to anything I do. I was going to go to the Marines but this woman I was in love with (my now wife) was going to be in New York City. I lucked out and got into Columbia. After Columbia I was too lazy to be a waiter and had too flimsy a grasp of the truth to be a journalist. Advertising was the perfect fit.
NW: Tell me about Murdaland, the crime fiction literary magazine you founded. How did that come about?
CM: Murdaland is something I’m very proud of. This is the only good idea I ever came up with while sitting at a bar. I was on a crime fiction kick, reading Jim Thompson, [Georges] Simenon, and George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and I was like, “Man, this stuff is literature!” I’d had three failed, rejected novels, and I thought “Well, if I can’t be a writer, I love literature in general, and so I’ll be a publisher.” I wasn’t rich from trading but I had a few pennies to rub together to fund a modest literary magazine. The idea I had was I wanted a dark crime magazine with literary sensibilities. I wanted Jim Thompson and David Goodis versus bestseller type stuff. Discovering American Dostoyevskys was the experiment. We were fortunate enough to get some incredible talent like Daniel Woodrell, Mary Gaitskill, Jayne Ann Phillips, Tom Franklin and Richard Bausch, as well as a David Goodis classic reprint and some amazing fresh talent, especially standouts like Les Edgerton, who is about to break big in 2011. That first issue was something special. After the second issue we shut it down but just the two issues were enough for Murdaland to garner respect, an award or two, and a small, but hardcore, following.
NW: Your author photo is great, with you staring intensely forward as you holding a copy of Fat City by Leonard Gardner and The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway– did you do that to show that those books are your influences?
CM: The photo with the books was totally a happenstance. Being a book nerd, I’m always carrying books around, more than one. I happened to have those two books on me and the photographer created that photo. I was worried it would seem pretentious or something. But it came out great. In real life I look like Shrek. (Aside: Yes, both those books are huge influences for me.)
NW: How did the idea for Short come to you? Did it start with characters or a plot idea?
CM: It came while reading Ian Flemming’s Goldfinger, a spy novel about a bad guy trying to corner another commodity market…gold. I was like…I could do this but with electricity trading.
For the rest of the (fascinating!) interview, go to: