Haven't had much time to tend to the ol' blog and I'm getting ready to head out to Texas to participate in a workshop and a retreat in Dallas and on a dude ranch near San Antonio, so I thought I'd repost an interview I participated in with British bestselling author Tony Black. It's raw and nothing is held back in this one, so... beware...
Let's start at the start, then. You've said 'dysfunctional families germinate writers' - discuss . . .
A lot of writers also talk about the influence of a big reader in their family - I believe your grandmother was the big reader.
And your mother force-fed you the bible three or four times a year, didn't she?
Did anything particularly stay with you from those Bible readings in childhood into your adult life?
I'm almost itching to ask you about the later stuff but the early experiences seem important to you - you moved about a lot when you were young, didn't you?
Do you think you were you sub-consciously gathering material for your writing when you were on the road?
I name checked the Kerouac novel there to be a smart-arse - you do believe writing should be experiential, don't you?
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' . . .
You're very frank about your past, how do you view your time as a drug dealer and as a burglar now? You served time for housebreaking, I believe.
The low point came when you found yourself homeless, eating out of a dumpster . . .
Despite reaching your nadir, over and over, the thing that strikes me about you is your lack of bitterness or anger. You do have the Hemingway bullshit detector installed though, don't you?
Yeah, kinda. I actually sold insurance at one time. And, was good at it. In fact, a guy told me awhile back that they still use a video for training that they had me make when I was a salesman and that was 30-40 years ago. There’s a thing they want you to do and that’s to gather as many referrals as you can with each policy sale. I was the king of referrals. They wanted you to try to get at least one for each sale and if you could get three that was super. I averaged seven, so they asked me to do a video showing my technique.
Publishing is a business you've spoken of in the past, you see through the smoke and mirrors don't you?
How do you feel the current business model is holding up?
Is the future digital?
Is it harder now to make a living as a writer, or easier?
I believe you were about to give up on your ambition to get into print when it happened . . . the advice that changed gears for you was to write every day.
What other lessons did you learn about being a writer from the process of writing?
You've written two books on how to write and coached several writers - can writing be taught?
Have you ever had to advise a student to give up?
Do you work to an outline when you write or are you a seat of the pants author?
What about the actual process of compiling a word count - do the words come easy?
I mentioned the typical novel there but after having just read your latest - The Rapist - I wonder if there is such a thing as a typical Les Edgerton work. The Rapist is a quite exceptional novel.
Where did the idea for The Rapist come from?
Even talking about the book now I have a slight uneasiness about the title and it's not a pretty subject - I'm presuming it was a hard sell . . .
You handle the story with a kind of matter-of-factness that's unavoidable - were you consciously employing this as a shock tactic?
The prose in The Rapist is beautiful - it really set me in mind of Nabokov - rhythms in your prose are obviously important, how hard do you work at those?
The Rapist's protagonist is something of a Humbert Humbert from Nabokov's Lolita; you've claimed the literary novel is dead but this is an unashamed literary novel, is it not?
I’m glad you used Nabokov for your example, Tony, as I subscribe to his view on literature wholeheartedly. He said he didn’t believe in any genre other than “good writing” and “bad writing.” I feel precisely the same.