Locks, Hooks & Books
Article 15 Blog Tour Interview
October 30, 2019
Who has influenced you the most to become an author?
I’ve had a lot of help along the way, but the true enabler for my…addiction, shall we say, was Robert Flanagan, a novelist (Maggot) and poet who was my professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. He agreed to take me on as a creative writing “project” for my English Major. Under his tutelage I achieved some pretty good success, winning several awards from the English Department there. And even though that recognition was for my work in verse (I was striving to become a better songwriter), when I turned to fiction after I found myself all alone out in the middle of the real world, his influence—kind of like Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”—was even greater. I get kind of shark-like at times: always swimming forward. But when I look back on it all, I realize how much I owe Mr. Flanagan a whole boatload of gratitude.
When did you decide to become an author?
William Faulkner famously said, “Don’t be ‘a writer’. Be writing.” And that’s what I do. I write. And I don’t recall a conscious decision ever to “become” a writer. When I was a kid, I was too busy being a kid to even have a notion of seeing my mug plastered on the dustjacket of a hardcover book. After all, there weren’t any Topps Author Cards for me to collect. What really happened was that words just kind of started oozing up out of me at some point, like the asphalt coming up out of the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. And it just hasn’t stopped.
What is your favorite book?
If I had to pick a single favorite, it would be Catch-22. It has been ever since I read it in high school. So much so that I almost pathologically refuse to read any other book by Joseph Heller—especially the sequel, Closing Time. I’ve found it to be a painful truism in life that trying to recreate the magic of a moment is an invitation for bitter disappointment. For me, the experience of following Yossarian’s epic descent into and escape from the inferno of the Army Air Corps’ deadly bureaucratic madness is like catching and holding and staring at lightning firing off again and again in a bottle. Fighting insanity back with your own brand of insanity seems an eminently sound policy in the face of incorrigible reality.
If Article 15 was on screen, who would you want to play the characters?
I have to admit to a certain estrangement from Hollywood to the point where many of my movie memories are beginning to fossilize. I’m just not a big comic book/graphic novel fan. And all the remakes make me feel like I’m having yesterday’s déjà vu all over again. I guess a young Lou Diamond Phillips (Standing Bear from Longmire) would make a good Griff. Helena was always inspired by Kathleen Turner in Body Heat. And I see Lance in the mold of Sam Axe aka Chuck Finley (played by Bruce Campbell) from Burn Notice. Wew. That was exhausting. I’m just glad I’m not a casting director.