“Hallowed be thy name, oh Lord – and shotgun do your stuff…”
The legendary Joe R. Lansdale talks to Kendall Reviews.
Joe R. Lansdale is the author of forty-five novels and four hundred shorter works, including stories, essays, reviews, introductions and magazine articles. His work has been made into films, BUBBA HOTEP, COLD IN JULY, as well as the acclaimed TV show, HAP AND LEONARD. He has also had works adapted to MASTERS OF HORROR ON SHOWTIME, and wrote scripts for BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES, and SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES. He scripted a special Jonah Hex animated short, as well as the animated Batman film, SON OF BATMAN.
He has received numerous recognitions for his work. Among them THE EDGAR, for his crime novel THE BOTTOMS, THE SPUR, for his historical western PARADISE SKY, as well as ten BRAM STOKERS for his horror work, and has also received THE GRANDMASTER AWARD and the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from THE HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION. He has been recognized for his contributions to comics and is a member of THE TEXAS INSTITUTE OF LITERATURE, THE TEXAS LITERARY HALL OF FAME, and is WRITER IN RESIDENCE at STEPHEN F. AUSTIN STATE UNIVERSITY.
He is in the INTERNATIONAL MARTIAL ARTS HALL OF FAME, as well as the U.S. MARTIAL ARTS HALL OF FAME, and is the founder of the Shen Chuan martial arts system.
His books and stories appear in twenty-five languages.
Kendall Reviews: I’m thrilled to welcome Joe to Kendall Reviews
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
JOE R. LANSDALE: I was born in Gladewater, Texas in 1951, and accept for travel, have always lived in East Texas. I fell in love with comics as a child, and they led to me being interested in being a writer. At first I wanted to write comics, but that led to me reading more, and that led to me wanting to write fiction. Eventually I did both, as well as screenplays and non-fiction and essays.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
JL: I have been a martial artist for 55 years, so I still do that. I teach a private class on Wednesdays when I’m in town, and when I’m not, I have a top student who does it for me. I have a martial arts school ran by other students. I love to read and watch movies and a lot of the newer TV shows. When I get the chance I like to watch plays or musicals, especially in London. I’m interested in archaeology and history, and do a lot of reading in those areas, but I’m nothing but a layman, though I did major briefly in archaeology/anthropology in school, but never finished. I also changed my major more than once.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
JL: That’s a toughie. I liked a lot of things, but I think originally it was THE JUNGLE BOOK, and I still love it, but when I read A PRINCESS OF MARS by Burroughs, that sort of nailed me from then on. It’s still my sentimental favorite.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
JL: That’s another toughie. Probably THE WHITE ALBUM by the Beatles, WILLIE AND THE POOR BOYS by Creedence, but there are others. But those made a big impact on me growing up.
Music does give me ideas for stories, the lyrics, the tone of the music, but I don’t like to listen to music when I write. I did that with one book, CAPTURED BY THE ENGINES, a Batman novel, but I didn’t really like it and never did it again. I get too distracted. Doesn’t work for me.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
JL: I like many. I really like Don Coscarelli’s take on my story BUBBA HOTEP, and I like PHANTASM. My favorite horror film is Robert Wises’ version of THE HAUNTING. The remake was a sad mess. But the original, oh my. I always liked Romero, Carpenter, Jim Mickle does a lot of stuff, but his horror stuff is really fun. I loved his take on COLD IN JULY, but him being someone who understood horror gave it an interesting tone. But I really like directors that aren’t associated with any one genre. I love horror, but I don’t really watch a ton of it or read a lot it anymore. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a love there still, but not across the board. I’m looking for a bigger buffet of stories and films.
KR: What are you reading now?
JL: I’m reading TRASH, a collection of short stories by Dorothy Allison, who wrote a favorite novel of mine, BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA. I read a lot of things, though, and I may be reading several books a the same time. I’ve just started THE PIANO LESSON, a play by August Wilson, a terrific playwright. I finished up the night before he died the new release of BLOOD’S A ROVER that was published by Subterranean Press, written by Harlan Ellison. I knew Harlan, and I knew his time was coming, as he was elderly and had been having health problems, but I finished it in one long afternoon and part of the night, as I took breaks to do other things, and the next day he was dead. I felt it was interesting timing.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
JL: Early on, Homer, I loved the ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY, and anything to do with Greek Mythology. Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, William F. Nolan, Fred Brown, Harlan Ellison, and then it was Harper Lee, Flannery O’Conner, Carson McCullers, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James Cain, John D. McDonald, Chester Himes, Elmore Leonard, primarily the Western stuff and the early crime novels, John Sayles, and.. Well, this list could get really long.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
JL: I go where a story takes me. I don’t outline. If I’m collaborating with someone, which is rare, and I normally don’t like it, but working with my kids we usually have some kind of rough sketch of where it’s going, because when you have two people working on something you have to establish some ground rules, or you end up working against each other. But even then, I prefer it to be sketchy. Screenplays you have a different animal altogether. It’s not an animal I like as much as the others, but I do like it. Comics are a mixture. It depends if I’m adapting, or free-wheeling, like with TWO GUN MOJO, the Jonah Hex comics I did with artist Tim Truman.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
JL: I usually read things that interest me and they lead to my desire to write a certain story. I research when I have to, or to make sure I have something right, or at least I try to do that. But sometimes I’m reading something for fun, and that leads to my interest in writing something. I’m rarely aware I’m researching. There have certainly been things through where I felt I needed to delve deeper than the books I read that got me interested in the first place.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
JL: When I wake up, I get my coffee and something light to eat, and go to work. I work for about three hours, but it can be less, and now and again is more, if I decide to drop in later in the day. But three hours is usually about all I have in me everyday. I write a lot daily then I get diminishing returns. I have a plan to get three to five pages, and it is rare indeed that I don’t get that, and frequently I get more, six or seven, sometimes ten or twelve, depending. I do most of my proofing as I go, so I don’t have multiple drafts that are visible. I write the story and then do a polish, and I’m done. I’m willing to make any changes that make sense, however, and always listen to editorial suggestions, but I also feel fine ignoring them if I think I should.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
JL: Short stories are my favorite form of expression. I’m very fond of NIGHT THEY MISSED THE HORROR SHOW. I think it fills a lot of slots. It can be identified in many ways. It’s my favorite of my stories, and one of my most popular. I like a number of others, though. One titled The Stars are Falling is a favorite, but it depends on the day. I’ve written a lot of stories to choose from.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
JL: I do. I believe if you believe the good ones, you have to believe the bad ones. I use the good ones as tools for my publishers to promote the books. Good and bad reviews are both right from the standpoint of the reviewer. Unless it’s a personal attack, I’m okay with it.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
JL: Simple. Read and write and quit saying you don’t have time. It’s not how much time, it’s how frequently you do it.
KR: What scares you?
JL: Reality. Things happening to my family. Our current government damn sure gives me pause.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
JL: All of them. I prefer books I can hold, however.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
JL: JACK RABBIT SMILE, and a collection of stories I wrote with my daughter, TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
JL: Wife, son, and daughter. And if I can cheat, our Pitbull, Nicky.
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
JL: That’s tough. Probably I’d cheat and say Hap Collins and Leonard Pine
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, my favorite novel.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
No choices there. My family is enough.
KR: Thank you very much Joe.
Joe R. Lansdale
You can follow Joe on Twitter @joelansdale
To find out more about Joe please visit his official website www.joerlansdale.com
You can check out Joe’s author page here
Jack Rabbit Smile
Edgar Award-winner and fan favorite Joe R. Lansdale is back with Hap and Leonard’s latest caper: investigating the disappearance of a revivalist cult leader’s daughter.
Hap and Leonard are an unlikely pair-Hap, a self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough-as-nails black gay Vietnam vet and Republican-but they’re the closest friend either of them has in the world. Hap is celebrating his wedding to his longtime girlfriend, Brett (who is also Hap and Leonard’s boss), when their backyard barbecue is interrupted by a couple of Pentecostal white supremacists. They’re not too happy to see Leonard, and no one is happy to see them, but they have a problem and only Hap and Leonard will take the case.
Terror Is Our Business: Dana Robert’s Casebook Of Horror
Award-winning author and “Champion Mojo Storyteller” Joe R. Lansdale (Hap & Leonard, Bubba Ho Tep) and his daughter, author / country singer Kasey Lansdale, have joined forces to bring you a short story collection showcasing the new dynamic duo of supernatural sleuthing, Dana Roberts and her sidekick Jana!
Terror is Our Business gathers together all of Dana’s and Jana’s previous cases in a single volume, and features an all-new adventure, “The Case of the Ragman’s Anguish,” written exclusively for this collection.
Join Dana and Jana as they investigate—and battle—angry jinns, malevolent shadows, ancient travelers, and soul-sucking shapeshifters. With two tough, resourceful women on the case, the specters from “the other side” won’t know what hit them!
You can buy Terror Is Our Business from Amazon UK & Amazon US
Cosmic Interruptions is a collection of speculative fiction by Joe R. Lansdale. The stories here have been grouped as part of a four part set, this first volume loosely falling into the speculative fiction, science fiction, and off-beat fantasy realm. The stories range from alternate universes to dark futures to the warping of time and space, and a variety of unclassifiable items. There is action, humor, whimsy, and a large dollop of what was once called A Sense of Wonder. Future volumes will gather tales of crime and mystery fiction, horror and East Texas Gothic, and historical and western stories. This is a unique chance to gather not only Lansdale’s popular stories, but some that are lesser known and should be known more broadly.
You can buy Cosmic Interruptions from SST Publications
Signed Limited Hardcover Edition:
Limited to only 550 Signed and Hand-Numbered copies
Personally signed by Joe R. Lansdale, Vincent Chong and Nino Cammarata on a specially designed signature page
Larger 6.14” x 9.21” trim size
Printed on 90gsm acid-free paper
Bound in full-cloth with coloured head and tail bands
Hot foil stamping on the front boards and spine
Offset printed and bound with full-colour endpapers
Sewn binding for increased durability
Epic dust jacket artwork by Vincent Chong, and over TWENTY interior illustrations by Nino Cammarata
Extremely limited ONE-TIME printing of only 550 copies!
Dynamite interview with one of my favorite authors, but his favorite short story is not his best short story. I am the self-proclaimed World Champion at championing Joe’s “The Boy Who Became Invisible” as the greatest short story in American Literature. It’s usually included in Hap and Leonard (which is normally called Hap and Leonard 9.5 in the series). Read it. You’ve got to read it.
A few years ago, Joe was kind enough to steer me toward martial arts as a way of correcting some spinal trouble. Not long after that, his daughter Kasey was in Nashville performing; we caught a couple of her shows and chatted for a little while. Fantastic performer. Come to find out, Kasey recorded at the House of Cash where I used to play on demos for songwriters.
Never met Joe in person, but he’s a quality guy with a quality family. Talent always finds its way to the top.