PDB: Could you tell us a little about your new book, The Rapist?
Well, I wrote it 26 years ago and only last year decided to try to get it published. I wrote it at the time because I’d just read Charles Bukowski’s short story, “The Fiend” and I thought then (and still do) it was the bravest piece of literature I’d ever experienced. I wanted to see if I could write as courageously as he had. “The Fiend” accomplishes what the best of literature should—it reveals the darkest recesses of the human soul and shows that no matter how evil a person might be—or at least how evil his or her acts might be—inside, there still resides a human being. It takes real guts for a writer to go there and I wanted to do what Bukowski had done. It was also anti-establishment and that alone made it a worthwhile goal in my mind. I didn’t intend it to be like anything else out there and I knew that might hurt its chances, but I wrote it totally for me first and then anyone else who had a curious mind. To be honest, I anticipated a European audience rather than a U.S. one.
PDB: The title alone will put off many readers. Were you tempted to give it a more ‘marketing friendly’ title?
Nope. The reasons are, first, it accurately describes the book, and secondly, I expect the title will be offputting to those among us who subscribe to that idiotic and moronic notion of being “politically correct.” I abhore the entire concept of PCism as it’s the single biggest threat to freedom of speech yet created and I really don’t want the people who believe in PCism to be mucking around in the pages of my work. I felt the people who would be drawn to it would be the kind of people I respect—freethinkers. So far, that’s been the case. I wanted to write a book that would be uncomfortable for the reader—not because of its savagery or some kind of cheap physical shock value—but because of the ideas it expressed and hopefully the way it would force the reader to examine his own ideas and beliefs about crime and God and humanity.
PDB: How difficult was it getting a publisher for such a near to the knuckle book?
Surprisingly (at least to me!), not difficult at all. I had my choice of several publishers I think are putting out some of the best literature in the world. The hard thing was picking the right one. I know I did with Jon Bassoff of New Pulp Press. To my mind, Jon is the new John Martin. New Pulp Press is the new Black Sparrow Books.
PDB. We’re seeing more and more novellas/ short novels being published. Is this a good thing?
That’s a wonderful thing and in my mind, the single biggest positive that the ebook revolution has produced. Novellas had fallen out of favor among print publishers simply because of the prohibitive costs of books that length—nothing else. Some of the best stories ever written were written in the novella form and until ebook publishing became viable, were pretty much restricted to a handful of writers such as Jim Harrison and a few others. With ebooks which don’t have the same cost restraints as print, the dam has burst and once again a brilliant, almost perfect art form is being released into the world. Ebooks have also revitalized the short story market and that’s equally wonderful.
First, to wake up tomorrow morning… After that, it’s all a bonus. I’m doing a bit of a rewrite on my memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE and hoping to find a home for it, and the same with a black comedy crime novel which is my own personal favorite, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING. Much of this novel has already been published as various short stories. I’m writing a new writer’s craft book, titled A FICTION WRITER’S WORKSHOP AT THE BIJOU where I use film to inform fiction writing. I’m also writing a new novel, working title, THE FIXER, which is about a hitman… okay, I heard that groan… another hitman novel?!—but I think this one is a bit different. It’s about a guy who makes his wet work look like accidents when he starts out—for instance, one of the people he takes out, he gives rabies to when the target is sleeping and then just sits back to wait awhile. The thing about rabies is that when you find out you’ve got it… it’s too late. Not much time for anything at that point but write a will and avoid water and try to bite everyone around you… But then, he has an epiphany and changes his entire modus operandi. He keeps seeing these TV programs where the killer gets off or draws a light sentence for some evil deed and he keeps seeing the surviving family members doomed to a lifetime of grief and frustration at the “justice” system. So, he decides to use his talents to help them out, by kidnapping the perpetrator and torturing him in various clever and imaginative ways and videotaping it and sending the tape to those family members for their enjoyment. He’s the best kind of vigilante—the kind who applies justice. And, here’s a reveal—I’m never going to have him get caught. At least permanently.