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Anthony Neil Smith



Thursday, May, 18, 2006

Participants

doc_a_n_smith
: Anthony Neil Smith
dpwhite237: Dave White
g_so: Gerald So
harryhunsicker: Harry Hunsicker
macavityabc: Bill Crider
maclean7777777: Mike MacLean

g_so: Welcome, Neil.

doc_a_n_smith: 'sup, g?

dpwhite237: there he is.

macavityabc: Hey, Neil.

dpwhite237: how's it going Neil?

doc_a_n_smith: things are good. you guys?

g_so: doing fine.

macavityabc: Good in the writing sense, or in the taco sense? Or both?

dpwhite237: good... I was just whining about revision

doc_a_n_smith: Tacos. Writing sucks. Revision sucks. I love it.

macavityabc: Revision goes better with tacos, however.

g_so: I heard you were coming to NY, Neil, but the Galapagos is a trek from where I am.

g_so: Yes, indeed.

dpwhite237: You're in the Galapagos?

doc_a_n_smith: I'll be there June 2. Sorry it's a trek, but all treks are worth taking.

dpwhite237: cool.

g_so: the Galapagos art space in Brooklyn.

doc_a_n_smith: A cool warehouse/bar

dpwhite237: oh nice. where in Brooklyn?

doc_a_n_smith: Um......the Brooklyn part? I gave no idea.

dpwhite237: nevermind then.

doc_a_n_smith: Check out the site: galapagosartspace.com

dpwhite237: okay cool.

doc_a_n_smith: it's all NYC to me. I'm a country boy

g_so: check neil's virtual dive bar.

doc_a_n_smith: That place smells. What a dive.

dpwhite237: so what's new and exciting Neil? I don't think we've talked since B'con.

g_so: ok, if you have a question for Neil, type ? and enter, and I'll add you to the queue.

doc_a_n_smith: Trying to sell a new novel, plus get DRUMMER mucho attention. Big summer tour planned.

dpwhite237: cool. what's the new novel called?

doc_a_n_smith: Most days, I just watch judge judy, though.

dpwhite237: Ah to be you.

doc_a_n_smith: The new novel is called GIRL MISSING, and it's out in the hands of editors.

macavityabc: I checked the Galapagos website. The place isn't far from Bedford Avenue, and there's a subway stop nearby.

dpwhite237: cool.

macavityabc: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: How did you get hooked up with the $2 Radio people, Neil?

doc_a_n_smith: I heard about them in an article written by Johnny Temple (of Akashic), went to their site...Then sent some sample chaps and a letter...They asked for the 'script a week later.

g_so: neat.

macavityabc: As you know, I liked the book.

doc_a_n_smith: After that, they called and made an offer. Very new, but i risked it because Eric (the publisher), *got* it.

doc_a_n_smith: Thanks much. I appreciate that.

dpwhite237: ?

g_so: Go, Dave.

dpwhite237: So, what's DRUMMER about?

doc_a_n_smith: It's about a guy who hands out with musicians...

doc_a_n_smith: No no. Sorry...

g_so: hmm

doc_a_n_smith: Take an 80's metal band, and have them fall apart at the end of the era...

dpwhite237: ok

doc_a_n_smith: But instead of going bankrupt, selling out, the drummer fakes his death and starts a new anonymous life.

doc_a_n_smith: 15 years later, the singer catches up with him in New Orleans.

doc_a_n_smith: Shit goes nuts.

g_so: :)

dpwhite237: cool

macavityabc: It's about the past catching up with vengeance, about how far a guy might to to keep things the way they are. And of course about shit going nuts.

doc_a_n_smith: Lots of 80s nostalgia.

dpwhite237: shit going nuts is good stuff.

macavityabc: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: So is GIRL MISSING a different kind of thing? Or does shit go nuts?

doc_a_n_smith: Well...GIRL MISSING is disgusting.

macavityabc: But in a good way?

doc_a_n_smith: Imagine Mike Hammer actually fucking every woman who threw themselves at him.

dpwhite237: oh no

macavityabc: Okay, I know I'm getting that one.

g_so: with STDs in play?

doc_a_n_smith: It's about our oversexed culture, sortof. A fantasy world, but STDs show up, yeah.

doc_a_n_smith: Instead of it being his fantasy, he gets really tired...

doc_a_n_smith: Plus, he's having an awful affari with his dominant older sister

macavityabc: Lots of STD stuff in the Bruen/Starr epic, BUST.

doc_a_n_smith: Too much STD stuff spolis the fun. Goodamn it!

doc_a_n_smith: I'm drinking. Typos.

g_so: :)

macavityabc: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: Do you have an agent for GIRL MISSING, or is this a do-it-yourself deal?

doc_a_n_smith: Yep. I have an agent. Um....let's just say he ain't American.

macavityabc: Oh, that guy.

dpwhite237: that guy ROCKS

g_so: Did that guy write KISS HER GOODBYE?

doc_a_n_smith: I was talking about Fyodor Trotsky, famous Russian agent. Yeah, he rocks!

macavityabc: ?

doc_a_n_smith: (don't believe a word I say...)

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: When did you develop the fascination with tacos? I mean aren't you from gumbo country?

doc_a_n_smith: I love cajun food, but Mexican food is a close second...

dpwhite237: ?

doc_a_n_smith: And when you lose Taco Bell as an option, it's like heroin withdrawal.

g_so: Go, Dave.

dpwhite237: Kind of a usual type question, but who do you consider to be your influences?

doc_a_n_smith: Well, the Hardy Boys started it all. But it took Ellroy, Crumley, and Thompson to show me it could be better than the typical shit...

doc_a_n_smith: ...plus lit folks like my teacher, Frederick Barthelme, Thom Jones, McCarthy.

macavityabc: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: Speaking of teachers, how do you manage the teaching/writing careers?

doc_a_n_smith: Lots of profs who write ask me, and my question to them is, Why *can't* you? ...

g_so: Excellent.

doc_a_n_smith: I don't know. I just...DO it. I write in the mornings on offdays, and on weekends.

doc_a_n_smith: I write all summer

doc_a_n_smith: And class stuff, I love doing it, so it gets done.

macavityabc: Offdays? You get offdays? I never got offdays.

doc_a_n_smith: By the seats of my pants, but it gets done!

g_so: ?

doc_a_n_smith: I get a couple.

g_so: What courses do you teach, Neil?

doc_a_n_smith: Creative Writing, from freshmen to seniors. All sorts of Lit (did Lit & Film last semester). Composition.

g_so: ah, composition.

doc_a_n_smith: I learned to like it at my last job. I do it in a way that keeps me interested.

macavityabc: ?

dpwhite237: what school Neil, if you don't mind answering

doc_a_n_smith: Southwest Minnsota State University, in Marshall. Near Sioux Falls.

dpwhite237: cool.

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: I've been checking out your short stories on various sites that you mention. Not crime related, necessarily. Do you do a lot of that sort of thing?

doc_a_n_smith: I do mostly literary short stories (or pulp/lit crossbreeds) and the novels are all crossbreeds so far, but I'd like to do lots of different stuff eventually.

dpwhite237: ?

g_so: great versatility, Neil.

dpwhite237: great vocabulary, Gerald

g_so: Go ahead, Dave.

dpwhite237: Can you talk about your writing process, just a bit? outline, seat of your pants...that sort of thing?

doc_a_n_smith: SEAT OF MY PANTS! No outlines. Lots of glimpses in my head, "what ifs" I store up over time. I just start and go.

g_so: wow.

doc_a_n_smith: Combine different ideas over time until it's ready to hit the page.

macavityabc: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: So what if you wanted to sell by partial and the publisher wanted an outline?

doc_a_n_smith: I'd give em something, but probably tell them I don't like that sort of stuff. I'd make it very minimal...as I've seen the process vicariously thorugh a friend. Ugh. Like he says, "I write books, not synopses."

g_so: This is for anyone who's had to outline a book. How detailed have you had to get?

doc_a_n_smith: My agent doesn't want to look at half-written stuff anyway, so we're good.

doc_a_n_smith: Detailed? Meaning?

macavityabc: Oddly enough, the most detailed outlines I've had to do were for contract work, where I got a flat fee and didn't have my name on the book. 30 pages or so. I don't outline my own books.

g_so: Meaning how intricate an outline have you been asked to do.

dpwhite237: my students had to do a vaguely detailed outline for their research papers this week.

g_so: I ask because I don't outline much, either.

macavityabc: I usually manage to burn two or three pages with a "cast of characters." I don't know if anybody else does that.

doc_a_n_smith: Never been asked. Sorry. BUT, I tell my fiction students 2 cardinal rules: 1) Be interesting. 2) Surprise yourself. If the writer isn't surprised, odds are the audience won't be so much either. It won't feel fresh.

dpwhite237: Didn't Hemingway say that?

doc_a_n_smith: Try to see it as you write as if for the first time.

doc_a_n_smith: He said lots of things. (I don't know).

dpwhite237: "If I know the ending ahead of time, so will my readers."

doc_a_n_smith: Ah. Well, then he forsaw his own suicide...

g_so: that sort of kills his macho for me.

g_so: Hemingway buff, Dave?

dpwhite237: I don't know about a buff, but I do like Hemingway and know some of his random quotes.

macavityabc: But then Spillane always wrote the last chapter first. And Poe always wrote the ending first, too.

doc_a_n_smith: I don't want to know the end until I get to the middle.

macavityabc: The middle is where I usually discover the ending. If I don't find it by then, I get a little nervous.

doc_a_n_smith: Yep. Always the middle.

doc_a_n_smith: Happened in the DRUMMER and GIRL MISSING. Always the middle.

macavityabc: Glad I'm not alone.

g_so: Dave, do you know the ending of your book at this point?

dpwhite237: Assuming it stays the same as it is now, yeah. I didn't figure out the ending of the first draft until 2/3s of the way through though.

macavityabc: ?

doc_a_n_smith: I'm working on one, and I'm past the middle, but I have a glimpse of the ending, but it gets clearer as I go. Still cloudy, but definitely there.

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: Another process question. Do you write a certain number of hours a day, pages a day, or any kind of schedule at all?

dpwhite237: I don't know about anyone else, but I seriously love process questions.

macavityabc: Me, too.

doc_a_n_smith: I try to get 4 a day, and that's usually between about 9 AM and 1PM (sometimes shorter). I can't work at night at all. If I haven't started by 10 or 11, I won't get anything done all day.

g_so: I'm not a night person, either.

dpwhite237: I used to work better at night, actually... when I didnt have to get up the next morning.

macavityabc: When I was teaching, I had only the evenings to write. Now I still write then since I'm used to it.

doc_a_n_smith: The current book has reached a point where I'm crawling. A page or two a day at best. Need to get over the hump. But you always do...eventually.

macavityabc: Do you ever have the fear that someday you might not?

doc_a_n_smith: Nope. I just always find something that interests me. Someone told me "interest is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more interested you'll be in more things." So I believe that. Always got a "what if" in my head.

dpwhite237: what if Dave White had more interesting questions to ask.

dpwhite237: ?

doc_a_n_smith: We'd be floored?

g_so: Go, Dave. Make it interesting.

dpwhite237: Now I know this is that whole "how can you pick your favorite child" question, but do you have a favorite piece of you own work? Be it a novel, story, chapter...?

doc_a_n_smith: My fave novle is GIRL MISSING. Because as I wrote it, I thought, "This is unpublishable." So I wrote it for sheer love of this awful, nasty story that somehow is still touching. Fave short story is one I'm shopping called..."PSYCHO REDNECK PICK-UP TRUCK KILLING SPREE".

dpwhite237: GREATEST TITLE EVER

doc_a_n_smith: thx. the story kicks so much ass that pussy editors don't know what to do with it. it makes them cry.

harryhunsicker entered the room.

dpwhite237: HA, I love it... (what about sending it to Bryon?)

harryhunsicker: Hi, all.

dpwhite237: (you're probably looking for payment)

doc_a_n_smith: He'd cry.

dpwhite237: making Bryon cry would be the highlight of my day, not yours?

doc_a_n_smith: Too easy

doc_a_n_smith: Yo, Sicker, 'sup?

dpwhite237: what's up Harry

macavityabc: Hi, Harry.

g_so: Hi, Harry.

harryhunsicker: Another day. Another . . . something.

doc_a_n_smith: Want a beer?

dpwhite237: you have beer?

doc_a_n_smith: Had some...

macavityabc: ?

g_so: If you have a question for Neil, type ? as usual and I'll add you to the queue.

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: Back to Fred Barthleme. There were two or three of those brothers, and they all wrote. Did he do the book about his gambling addiction, or was that another one?

doc_a_n_smith: That was him and his younger brother, Steve, who was also my teacher.

doc_a_n_smith: A *great* book, too.

macavityabc: Cool, both of them. Great book, indeed. Either Steve or Fred wrote novels, too.

doc_a_n_smith: Don was the famous one. Fred writes novels. Steve does mostly short stories and essays.

macavityabc: I went to grad school with Don's ex. She wasn't a fan.

doc_a_n_smith: Really? Ha, that's funny. Don is tough on some readers.

doc_a_n_smith: What a freak.

doc_a_n_smith: Ask me shit! now! (shakes fist)

doc_a_n_smith: Make Harry talk. He can't be too cool for the room.

macavityabc: I'll ask one. So do your colleagues read your novels? How about your students?

dpwhite237: What is your all time favorite novel? Damn. Too slow.

doc_a_n_smith: My students figure it out. I don't tell them about all my stuff. Let em find it. They did come to a reading last semester.

doc_a_n_smith: Colleagues? A couple. I don't know what they think.

dpwhite237: cool.

harryhunsicker: ?

g_so: go ahead, Harry, after Dave's fave novel question.

doc_a_n_smith: All time fave novel? Hard question. I have asoft spot for WHITE JAZZ because it showed me what crime fiction could really do if you pushed it. But I don't have an immediate answer in my head. Read too much, I guess.

g_so: go ahead, Harry.

harryhunsicker: Tell us about the foriegn rights sale for PSYCHSOMATIC? How did that come about?

doc_a_n_smith: I think PointBlank jumped the gun, sending out a rights package to some places. Sweden wanted it. But I had kept the foriegn rights, so I asked if they'd tell me who wanted it. They did. The agent stepped in, took over, and it was pretty fast.

doc_a_n_smith: The Swedes love me.

macavityabc: ?

doc_a_n_smith: Wish the Italians and Japs would too...

g_so: Go ahead, Bill.

macavityabc: Speaking of PointBlank, do you know what's up with those guys?

doc_a_n_smith: Nope. Except that they're doing a BEST NEW NOIR antho in Sept. and rereleasing some of the original titles in a new offset edition...

dpwhite237: ooh, I'm in that.

doc_a_n_smith: Including PSY, Guthrie's TWO WAY SPLIT, and Duane S$%#$@@^@i's SECRET DEAD FOLKS.

macavityabc: That's good news.

doc_a_n_smith: (i know I got it wrong. on purpose)

doc_a_n_smith: I'm in the Best New Noir, too. edited by Guthrie.

g_so: gender-neutral language?

doc_a_n_smith: What? No. Just to mess it up. Messing up stuff is fun.

g_so: very jazz-like.

dpwhite237: it sounds like it's going to be a fun book.

macavityabc: Who else is in?

dpwhite237: I believe there are a few others we know, but I don't know whom...

doc_a_n_smith: I hope so. No idea who else except Reed Coleman, Gary Phillips, Dave, and....McGruff?

dpwhite237: Duane, Sarah?

g_so: McGruff?

doc_a_n_smith: The Crime Dog. Does tv ads? Take a bite out of crime?

g_so: ah.

doc_a_n_smith: He's really a pulp writer with TB. And rabies.

dpwhite237: I heard Spillane had rabies.

g_so: I thought maybe it was one of the PointBlank nicknames.

doc_a_n_smith: No. I fogot all those anyway...

g_so: ?

g_so: You've done some collaborations, with Gischler for example, what's that process like for you?

doc_a_n_smith: Drunken.

g_so: :)

doc_a_n_smith: We wrote a script on Monday nights drinking cheap beer and potato chips. Then, when done, went to the bar for free chili dogs and more beer.

doc_a_n_smith: We did Z.Z. DelPresto stuff through email. That was fun.

doc_a_n_smith: We wrote alternate chapters and tried to "trap" each other a tthe end of each.

g_so: I almost bought that from Coffee Cup. To the Devil, My Regards.

doc_a_n_smith: Should've. I would've got 4 cents royalty...

harryhunsicker: Alternate chapters sounds like a blast.

macavityabc: That's the way Murphy and Sapir wrote The Destroyer novels.

doc_a_n_smith: The first time, it was. The second, we got tired. But we did a short called "Bourbon Street Spank" for Handheld Crime that we thought was uber-cool.

g_so: I think that's what Bruen and Starr did for Bust.

doc_a_n_smith: Ripped us off, the bastards.

harryhunsicker: ?

macavityabc: The early Destroyer novels, except for the first one, are great, by the way.

g_so: Go ahead, Harry.

harryhunsicker: You're still going to Austin for ConMisterio?

doc_a_n_smith: Yep, signed up and ready to go. Looking forward to it. Then signing in Houston the Monday after.

harryhunsicker: Got bail money line up, right?

macavityabc: I'll be there, too.

harryhunsicker: Murder by the Book will do you right.

macavityabc: But I'm not going anybody's bail.

doc_a_n_smith: Bail money? I've got a fake badge. Gets me out of tight spots (or into, if you know what i mean...)

harryhunsicker: They're good peeps.

macavityabc: Gotta go, guys. Dinner is served at Rancho Crider.

doc_a_n_smith: Go. Eat. Live.

harryhunsicker: Bye, Bill. Scott Mongomery from The Mystery Bookstore in LA will be there too.

g_so: Thanks for coming, Bill.

macavityabc: Enjoyed it. Signing off.

macavityabc left the room.

g_so: Do you feel that your academic background has helped your writing career?

doc_a_n_smith: I think so. It shows that there are other audiences, other approaches. It opens up your world beyond the "small pond" of crime fiction...like, writing stories for lit mags that can cross genres. In crime, there aren't that many.

maclean7777777 entered the room.

maclean7777777: hey guys

g_so: Hi, Mike.

dpwhite237: whoa, I answer the phone and conversation goes frmo Wesson Oil to acadamia.

harryhunsicker: Hey, Mike

doc_a_n_smith: MacLean in da HOUSE.

g_so: If you have a question for Neil, type ? as usual.

doc_a_n_smith: That's a lot of goddamned 7s.

harryhunsicker: ?

maclean7777777: seven of them--easy for a dunce like me to remember

g_so: Go ahead, Harry.

doc_a_n_smith: How about just typing "49"?

g_so: :)

maclean7777777: damn it!

harryhunsicker: N, has your family on the coast recovered from Katrina, more or less?

doc_a_n_smith: More or less. Still some things that need fixing, but they've gotten back on their feet. Sister and her husband still at mom's house. Other sister staying with grandma. But the houses are back in good shape. Took 4 or 5 months to repair, get new stuff. I'll be there for most of the summer.

g_so: Glad to hear that.

doc_a_n_smith: thx.

dpwhite237: Man, I remember you worryin about that all B'Con... felt bad for ya man.

g_so: Mike, question for Neil?

maclean7777777: I'm trying not to come up with something someone else might've asked

g_so: Just ask, I'll let you know.

doc_a_n_smith: I appreciate it. At Bcon, I hadn't been able to talk to my grandmother in five days. Finally did. Couldn't get through to the folks for a couple of days.

maclean7777777: ?

harryhunsicker: Gotta go. Dinner time here too.

g_so: Go ahead, Mike.

g_so: Bye, Harry. Thanks.

doc_a_n_smith: Later, Harry

harryhunsicker: Bye, all.

harryhunsicker left the room.

g_so: We'll wrap up in a minute or two.

maclean7777777: I thought Psycosomatic was pretty gutsy. did you every try to talk yourself out of it.

doc_a_n_smith: You go to hell!

doc_a_n_smith: no no...

dpwhite237: Mike wins best question of the night.

doc_a_n_smith: I actually try to push things...if I get uncomfortable but it feels right, then I'm onto something, so I keep at it.

doc_a_n_smith: And compared to GIRL MISSING, PSY is *taaaaame*

dpwhite237: all right gents... have a great night... I'm outta here.

maclean7777777: see ya dave

g_so: Bye, Dave.

doc_a_n_smith: Thanks for hanging out, coolio.

dpwhite237: anytime pal.

dpwhite237 left the room.

g_so: ?

doc_a_n_smith: !

g_so: Last question, I promise.

maclean7777777: well?

g_so: How do you motivate yourself to write past the uncomfort? I would think it would be tough.

maclean7777777: Yeah, sometimes I think of my mother and say to myself--I can't have a naked lesbian chainsaw fight.

doc_a_n_smith: Well, I just want to feel something. And I want to be shocked, but not just on the surface. I want the shock to have real feeling and character behind it. I want to care about these people going through these awful things. Makes it hurt more. Makes good art.

maclean7777777: I liked that about Psyco--you felt something for most of the characters and at the same time were repulsed by them

doc_a_n_smith: Even hatred of a character is a feeling...I want people to either despise the book or love it. Nothing in between.

g_so: Hmm. Thanks for a great chat, Neil.

doc_a_n_smith: Thanks for this. Good stuff. I enjoyed it greatly. Thanks for paying attention to me. My ego is now HUGE.

maclean7777777: yeah, glad I could sneak in

g_so: good turnout indeed.

Comments

Sean Chercover said…
I've been a DT lurker for a while now, and I've really enjoyed the e-mails and chat sessions. One of these days, I'll drop the shyness and join the fray.

In the meantime, I just wanted to say "Great Chat!!" Thanks.

-Sean
Gerald So said…
Glad you enjoyed it, Sean. Would be great to hear from you onlist.

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