Short, Sharp Interview: Nik Korpon

PDB : Can you pitch BAR SCARS in 25 words or less?

Bar Scars is about everyday people in Baltimore who are way more fucked up than you ever wanted to know. Watch your pockets and kidneys.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I’m really digging Wyatt by Garry Disher at the moment, and loved Quintessence of Dust (Craig Wallwork), Herniated Roots (Richard Thomas) and a few from Megan Abbott. I’ve got some new Chris Holm, Sam Hawken and Nigel Bird queued up after I finish grading papers.

TV-wise, I just pounded Terriers on rec from Spinetingler Magazine and watched the first season of Boardwalk Empire. Breaking Bad and Mad Men, of course, for very different reasons, though this split-season crap is wicked lame.

Films? Honestly I haven’t watched many films recently. TV has been so good in the last eight years and I’m trying to catch up on stuff I’ve missed (I haven’t had cable in fifteen years.) I also have two jobs and a kid, so it’s rare I have two uninterrupted hours to watch a movie. My wife and I did love The Artist, though, and finally watched Cars. We usually watch Planet Earth or Spaced in lieu of films.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

If the book is good enough, then yes they can, on the first read. Pike made me forget I was reading and totally killed me. That sounds odd, but I think you know what I mean. Afterwards, I went back and analyzed it for the writing, but that first read just pulled me along whether I wanted to go or not.

I think it might be harder for writers to get into books initially because they naturally read critically. I can see the mechanisms in the story if they’re not hidden well enough and it can pull me out of the experience. It also makes me appreciate good books that much more.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

You got something for me?

I’d love to write for TV. I’ve actually been casually investigating it recently. Neil Smith said something about TV shows being novels and films being short stories, which I think it totally accurate. I think the recent elevation of TV writing, coupled with the film industry being inundated with ‘sure-hit’ remakes and other tripe, has opened a lot of writers’ eyes to what can happen on TV. That’d be a dream to do it if I could.

I used to be really into screenwriting but drifted into novels because I have no patience to wait for other people to get their shit together and make the film. Not that novel production is expedient, but at least I’m only responsible for myself. I’ve done a couple short films and they were fun. I wouldn’t mind doing more.

Theatre would be interesting to stretch my legs. I’ve written one one-act play about two incompetent bank robbers for a producer (is that what they’re called?) friend, but she just laughed and patted me on the shoulder.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

Enough so that what my characters say is true. Mostly it’s Google Maps street view or looking at what kind of gun would fit into a pocket, maybe what year a certain Orioles player was hitting well so I have a chronological anchor point. My Google history has probably landed me on two dozen watch lists, trying to find what heroin smells like when it’s cooking or what you need to make meth in your dorm room. If I start researching, I tend to fall into the rabbit hole, so I try to keep it as common-sense as possible.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

It’d probably be more useful if I used it more effectively. I’m terrible at self-promotion, so I tend to talk about other writers’ work and hope karma works. It’s an odd thing, too, because I understand that a writer’s platform is really important these days, but at the same time, if you’re a writer, aren’t you supposed to be writing? I’ve gotten better at FaceSpace and Twitter, but I don’t have a lot of free time, so I tend to just write the best fiction I can and hope people find it.

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012/13?

I’ll have articles at Elizabeth White’s review site and Andrew Nette’s Pulp Curry in the coming weeks. I just got a note this morning from the Head Hooligan at ThugLit, Todd Robinson, that I’ll have a story in the new issue, which is one of the places I’ve wanted to be since I started writing crime. I’ll be trying to remember to talk about my recent collection Bar Scars but probably lapsing into Back to the Future banter. I have a novel coming out on Perfect Edge Press, but that might not be until 2013. This winter, I’ll also be teaching a class called ‘N is for Noir Fiction’ at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, for any locals.

I have some pokers in some big fires at the moment, but nothing definite. I’m hoping they turn into something good instead of leaving me with blistered hands. If they do pan out, I’m sure people will know because I won’t shut up about them.