There are three questions I usually get asked in interviews that I particularly like and wanted to answer here in case readers don’t see the other interviews. These are the three most fundamental questions that can be asked about Defiled and provide readers with interesting (I hope) insight into the writing of the novel.
- Why did you write Defiled? Like all fiction writers, I hope readers are entertained by my work, that the investment of their time in reading my words pays them a dividend. But, I also hope to make a point by telling my stories. In Defiled the point was that our 240 year-old justice system no longer works in every specific case and that it is up to the human faces of the system-judges, lawyers, mediators and cops-to adjust the law to deliver personalized fairness and not merely impersonal justice. When they fail to do that, the law and the people caught up in the meat grinder of the system, are defiled. The second point is that the civil court system only works when all parties cooperate. In Defiled, Randle Marks and his wife, Carrie, stop cooperating and the result is uncontrollable chaos. Then the cops get involved and the results become unpredictable.
- Why did you write in the first person? I wanted Randle’s struggle to be shared intimately with the reader. I wanted him to tell his own story, through his dialog and actions. That saved readers the drudgery of a writer’s narrative, a style no longer appealing to 21st Century readers.
- Your style has been described as more like a screenplay than a traditional novel. Did you write with a movie in mind, or was there another reason for the unique style? Oh, a movie. I’d like that! No, I think writers have to be conscious of changing reader tastes and our changing culture and have to match their writing to the times in which they write. If writers today are imitating Faulkner and Styron or Thomas Wolfe, I think they’re doing their readers a disservice. Decades ago novels were our windows to the world. Through them we learned how Paris looked, how flight felt, how war smelled. Today, because of the Internet, cable TV, and 24-hour news, everyone grows up knowing those things. So, all the atmospherics you find in classical novels are now a waste of a reader’s time. I provide as few clues as possible about places and characters’ physical attributes and let readers use their own imaginations to fill in the blanks. Readers also have shorter attention spans today and more options to fill their time. Readers aren’t sitting around the fireplace with nothing better to do than read paragraph after paragraph of complex, compound sentences and flowery descriptions of the sunlight coming through a window. As a result, although Defiled is a fairly big book-346 pages-it is an easy, fast read because it consists of 80% dialog (quick to read) or action scenes (exciting to read). The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard or read is Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. His tenth rule is: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Thanks for listening. Speak to you again soon.