Know a Nominee, Part 13: Joe R. Lansdale
Welcome back to “Know a Nominee,” the interview series that puts you squarely between the ears of this year’s Bram Stoker Award nominees. Today’s first update features Joe R. Lansdale, nominated in the categories of Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel for I TELL YOU IT’S LOVE and Superior Achievement in Long Fiction for FISHING FOR DINOSAURS.
DM: Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project? If nominated in multiple categories, please touch briefly on each.
JRL: FISHING FOR DINOSAURS was inspired by the old adventure stories, H. Rider Haggard, Jack London, reprints I read from the pulps, writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs. Later the influence was Keith Laumer, Philip Jose Farmer(especially Phil Farmer), and a few others. But I wanted to write a story like that, giving it a slight modern touch, but keeping it a mix of all those writers and my own approach. The second nomination is part of an art book for which my story supplies the catalyst. A story/poem entitled I TELL YOU IT’S LOVE. It was an old prose poem/horror/crime piece I wrote in the 80s for Lewis Shiner’s one shot magazine, MODERN STORIES. It was perfect for the fine art book it became.
DM: What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept(s) to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?
JRL: Neither were challenging in a big way. I TELL YOU IT’S LOVE was a look into a dark place, based on articles and books I read about extreme sexual behavior. FISHING FOR DINOSAURS was fun from start to finish.
DM: What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated work fits into (or help give shape to) that ideal?
JRL: It should entertain and it can do more than that. It should excite and inspire, and frequently inform. Maybe not all at one time, but any number of those or any one of those. Mostly, anything that holds your interest can be entertaining, be it pulp to Kafka. I find all of that entertaining. It depends on the writer.
DM: I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?
JRL: I show up just about everyday. That’s my secret. I don’t try and write all day, just three to five pages a day, and if more come, great. I polish as I go, so that when I finish I need a polish, not multiple drafts. I like what I do and I read a lot. End of secret.
DM: As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?
JRL: See Number 4.
DM: If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?
JRL: I will be on a film set then it seems, but if I get lose and make it, I’d just like to see and visit with friends.
DM: What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to?
JRL: I can have fun with a lot of things, but what really scares me is reality, other people who don’t have your good will in their hearts.
DM: What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about?
JRL: Lately I’ve been reading RUNNING WITH THE BULLS by Valerie Hemingway, which is about her time with the Hemingways, and later marrying his son, Gregory. Very good. I’ve also been rereading a lot of pulp stories by a lot of pulp authors, which has been a mixed, but still interesting bag. Been reading along with it Ed Hoch’s Ben Snow stories. He’s an Old West gunfighter who solves impossible crimes. They are fun, solid-enough written, and a nice break. My next read is Ira Levin’s SON OF ROSEMARY, which is a sequel to ROSEMARY’S BABY. I have read all of his other work, including plays, and approach this with a bit of trepidation, but his writing style is always a joy. I’m also rereading a lot of Ernest Hemingway short stories and Raymond Chandler’s novels for the umpteenth time. Check out Trent Zelazny for one.
About Joe R. Lansdale
Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in more than two dozen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. His novella Bubba Ho-Tep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” was adapted to film for Showtime’s “Masters of Horror,” and he adapted his short story “Christmas with the Dead” to film hisownself. The film adaptation of his novel Cold in July was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.