Saturday, June 1, 2013

HARD TRUTHS: Interviews of crime writers by Tony Black

Hi folks,

 Disclaimer: Please be advised there is some strong language and adult situations in the material below.

One of the top crime writers in the world, Tony Black, has just published a book of interviews, HARD TRUTHS, with other crime/noir writers... and I'm in it! It's a very humbling honor to be included with the august list of writers Tony has assembled here. This ranks as one of the two best interview experiences I've ever had, along with the one Richard Godwin did for his "Chin Wags at the Slaughterhouse" which is due to appear in the next print version of Grift Magazine.

U.S. readers just click on the cover to go to the Amazon site. UK and European readers can go HERE.

From the promo copy:

Hard Truths is an 85,000-word collection of interviews with the crime genre's most accomplished writers.

As both an award-winning journalist and one of the most acclaimed crime writers of recent times Tony Black is uniquely placed to cross-examine crime fiction's bestselling authors. Names like Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh, Andrew Vachss, Les Edgerton and William McIlvanney reveal the secrets of their craft in a series of interviews conducted over the last five years.

Black takes an often no-holds-barred approach and pushes friendships to the limit as he teases out the truth on subjects as diverse as politics, the writing life, popular culture and personal histories. Always entertaining and often heartfelt these exchanges offer an entertaining, humorous and eclectic look at some of the genre's leading lights.

"For anyone at all interested in crime writers and crime writing - hell, for anyone even vaguely interested in writing and stories - this is an indispensable collection, full of insight and revelation."

- from the foreword by Doug Johnstone, author of Gone Again
The Interviewees:

Ian Rankin
Stuart MacBride
Ken Bruen
Irvine Welsh
Caro Ramsay
Andrew Vachss
Stephen Leather
Cathi Unsworth
R.J. Ellory
Simon Kernick
William McIlvanney
Allan Guthrie
Les Edgerton
Paul Sayer
Martyn Waites
Howard Linskey
Shona MacLean
Nick Stone
Ian Hamilton
Bob Mayer
Declan Burke
Ray Banks
Russel McLean
Barry Graham
Craig McDonald
Nick Barlay
Charles Ardai

Excerpt from our interview:

LES EDGERTON has done a lot of living. If there's a book in most people, there's a library in Les.
In his time — Les is now 70 — he seems to have done it all. By it all I mean he's travelled the gamut from east to west, north to south, lost to found . . .

You can count the bends in the road. A string of wives. Drug dealing. Life on the street. A burglary rap. The inevitable time inside.

As he recounts the trials and tribulations of a life that might make Neal Cassady's head spin it's as if it all happened to one of his characters. Les remains resolutely Les throughout: an erudite, witty, well-read road warrior with an eye for the absurdities of life.

Whilst other writers might rage against the publishing machine, he's wise enough to see the ignoble hands on the levers. He's had his successes — he is undoubtedly a quite outstandingly talented writer and perhaps deserving of more plaudits — but he gives the impression that just having a hand in the publishing game is worthy of mocking derision.

Les is all about the writing, the integrity . . . and that's a commodity worth bottling in these days of near drought.

Tony Black: I've done quite a few of these interviews now, Les, and I have to say this is the first where I don't know where to start to say you've led a colourful life is a bit of an understatement . . . Let's start at the start, then. You've said 'dysfunctional families germinate writers' discuss . . .

Les Edgerton: I think if you talk to just about any writer worthy of the name, you'll find they came from a dysfunctional family. It's a background that just germinates writers. Think about it — if you grew up in a happy family, you wouldn't have anything to write about and you'd probably end up selling insurance. Fiction is about one thing only — trouble and if you've never had much trouble in your life, you won't have anything to write about or probably even understand what trouble is.
I was at a writer's thing one time where Mary Karr (The Liar's Club) was appearing and she made the statement that all writers come from a dysfunctional background. All of us writer-types standing around nodded sagely at this precept and then someone asked if she could define a dysfunctional family. Karr laughed and said, 'That's easy. A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one member.'

Tolstoy said it the best in Anna Karenina with the line: 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.'

My own family was fucked up in just about every way they could have been. My mother was a religious fanatic — 'fanatic' isn't a strong enough word for what she was and is — and my father was basically a brute who abused me in just about every way you can imagine. My father didn't spank me. He whipped me with various objects, including a live kingsnake, and usually would taunt me to fist fight him and when I got bigger would do the same saying that if I ever whipped him, he'd just go get a two-by-four and take care of me like that. Nice guy . . . My mother did her part in the abuse department, mostly emotionally and mentally.

Two years ago, at the age of sixty-eight, I discovered the man I had been told was my father all my life wasn't. To compound the injury, my mother named me after him — I'm a frickin' junior! — and to this day won't tell me who my real father is. However, she claims God has forgiven her. I guess lying to your son for all of his life doesn't require forgiveness in her mind . . .

There's plenty of material in Les Edgerton's experience; can we take a few highlights or lowlights and talk about them? Let's start with your time working as a gigolo 'servicing older women' . . .

I don't know if I'd term it as being a 'gigolo'. Well, maybe it was. What happened was one of those strokes of luck. I had one of my girlfriends, Cat, stab another girlfriend, Rachele, and almost kill her and try to nail me as well. I got the knife away from her and took Rachele to the emergency room. When I was waiting there, Rachele's mom showed up with this guy and told me that if Rachele died, I would too and the guy with her would be the one to render me room temperature. Turns out, she was connected and that's exactly what this guy would have done. Well, it's what he would have tried to do — I wasn't exactly helpless. Anyway, Rachele pulled through and we began to date heavier, which was tricky as she couldn't move much or she'd pull her stitches out. Anyway, she and her mother both worked for a guy who was kind of a criminal kingpin. He had a cottage industry where he hired older women like Rachele's mom to make these fishing lures in their home a la piece work, and to grease the deals with the national buyers of stores like K-Mart, he gave the buyers lots of coke and weed. He also had a regular drug business and used people like Rachele when they were under the age of 18 to transport his drugs from Houston to New Orleans. If they got busted, since they were underage they'd just get probation and he'd never use them again. Rachele was over 18 but had never been caught, so she was still working for him.

Well, after she got out of the hospital, I started going with her to Houston and that was an experience. We'd go to this Quonset hut warehouse with tons and tons of weed piled high and all of these illegal aliens moving pallets of weed around with forklifts. Quite a sight. Anyway, the guy who Rachele and her mother worked for and me got to be friends and he had another sideline business — an escort service where young studly dudes like myself went out with older, wealthy women. I'd made several stag movies years ago when I was 18 and living in Bermuda and he found out about that and asked me to work for the escort business.

It forces you to learn to be creative in the sack . . . My favourite client was the heir to the famous Pontchartrain Hotel — she was in her eighties and actually still fairly good-looking. She took me to Puerta Vallarta with her and her girlfriend. She rented the villa that used to belong to Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and it was a really fun week!

That's a book right there, Les . . .

I think you're right. And, I have one . . .

We talked a bit about my newest book, THE RAPIST, and how I came to write it.


For the entire interview and lots of other interviews by writers better known than me, glom onto a copy!

Blue skies,

P.S. A bit of news. My agent was recently successful in getting back the rights to my novel, THE BITCH, and it's currently on the desk of a publisher I hope chooses to publish it. I won't go into the reasons we pulled it from the original publisher--not important--but will just say I'm delighted to be able to go forward with a new press. If and when we place it and it becomes available again, I'll announce it here and by yelling out of my window. What's sad, though, is that I had a bunch of really cool reviews posted on it on Amazon and those are gone! When it comes out again, if anyone reading this had posted a review and still has it, I'd really appreciate it if you'd repost it. Thanks!

No comments: