Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Q & A with Joe Lansdale

Q: What makes Hap & Leonard different from other (unofficial) PIs?
I think their backgrounds are different. They aren't the first blue collar guys to do private eye type stuff, but they are really, really blue collar and it's my own background. Hap is a liberal, Leonard a conservative, not a right winger, but an old fashioned conservative, and in ways, Hap is an old fashioned liberal. Hap is heterosexual, Leonard is gay and proud of it and obviously masculine. Hap is introspective, Leonard not so much. I think the contrast is what makes the series work. I'm less interested in plot and more interested in those two characters. Seems to be the same for readers.

Q: How did you come up with the characters?
I based a lot of Hap on myself, and Leonard on friends of mine. It's that simple. But, of course, a lot of who they are is made up. I had a number of the jobs Hap had, and some of the other experiences. No murders and killings, but the background.

Q: What do you like writing best: horror or crime?
I like them all. I really love Westerns, and though I've written in that genre, my favorite being THE MAGIC WAGON, I want to do more, and plan on it. But, I love Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, absurdist, "literary" stories, you name it. Second to that, I enjoy screenplays and comics and essays and plays. I've even written a few poems, but I'm not a great reader of poetry, and I'm not much of a poet. I like poetic language better than I like pure poetry.

Q: What's next for you and Hap & Leonard?
I just finished a new book, DEVIL RED. A little different for the boys, more introspective and moody.

Q: How do you promote your books?
My publisher sends me on tours, and I've started using the internet more. Word of mouth is still my best way of promotion.

Q: Do you have any favourite Sons of Spade yourself?
I loved Parker's novels, even though I felt they had gotten somewhat thin and repetitious. But I read them all. I like James Lee Burke for prose. Hell, they were both good prose writers. Just different.

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, MacDonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation and in what way?
James Lee Burke, most likely. I keep hearing from writers who claim I'm a big influence, and that's nice.

Q: E. Michael Terrell came up with the following question: If your PI could choose to be a comic book superhero, which would he choose and why?
Well, my Hap and Leonard books have two heroes. Both would want to be Batman and claim the other one was Robin.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Are you having fun? That's the key for both writer and reader. I don't write for anyone but me, because I'm the only reader I know. But my guess is there are a lot of readers like me out there.

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