Sunday 29 August 2010

Dancing With Myself: KEITH RAWSON interviews KEITH RAWSON



Apologies if you've been over to read this having seen that Keith was a worthy number 4 in the Sea Minor Hit Parades.

Due to some kind of technical hitch/blogger incompetence everything went pear shaped (almost literaly if you saw it).

Thankfully, I still have a copy of the original, so here it is.

It's a timely one given that Crime Factory has just put up Issue 6 and it looks bigger and badder than ever.  200 pages for buttons is what it is.  Go buy.

I'd also like to thank Kate Horsley for putting up an interview between Dave White and myself at Crimeculture where we talk about Dirty Old Town and More Sinned Against and a bunch of other stuff.

So here is, still wearing that tiara, the lovely KEITH RAWSON.

Your looks have often been compared to an obese, drug ravaged Brad Pitt or a ragged schizophrenic freight train ridding hobo. Tell me, what do you consider your best feature?
Oh, without question my belly button is my best feature. I’m meticulous when it comes to its cleaning and care. When it comes right down to it I think I spend close to two hours a day waxing and shinning it. I make sure to wear t-shirts 3 sizes too small in order to emphasize it. I’m also particularly fond of decorating it with wash off Pokémon tattoos.
There isn’t much known about your personal life, what exactly do you do to make money?

Well, I don’t talk about what I do for a living largely because the cartel’s which employee my services would most likely kidnap me and sell me into a white slavery ring, but I guess for the purpose of this interview I might as well fess up. You know those guys on the side of the road who flip signs around trying to draw your attention to a sandwich shop or new housing complex? Well, I’m proud to say that I’ve been doing this for our local Cash-for-Gold outlet for the past six years. It’s been stressful at times and there have been a lot of road blocks thrown in my way along the road to corporate success. But I’ve persevered and now I’m in charge of four other sign flippers and when my Crimefactory partner, Cameron Ashley, comes to the states this October, I’m going to try convince him to join the team!
What was the one novel that convinced you try your hand at writing crime fiction?

It’s tough to narrow it down to just one book, but I remember sitting on a city bus on the way to work back from a class I was taking at the local community college and I was reading L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy. I’d been reading Ellroy for awhile (By the way, when I first started reading the Demon Dawg I was so blown away by what he was writing and how it was so radically different from anything else I’d been reading that his novels creatively locked me up and actually caused me to stop writing. I know I’m a fucking weird-o) and purposely avoided reading L.A. Confidential. But for some reason or other I picked it up and stuck it my bag as I headed out the door that morning. Anyway, I cracked open after class and I think I read 150 pages by the time I reached work and continued reading through out my shift. By the time the wife came to pick me up at 10 pm, I’d finished reading the entire book and start dabbling at writing crime fiction.

There’s obviously something mentally wrong with you. What was your childhood like?

Well, I started off life as a young, adventurous 20-year-old Serbian boy. I was young, dark, handsome, and the bitches at the local discothèque loved my dance moves and worshipped my every move and built shrines to my break dancing skills. These shrines angered God (or maybe he was pissed at my mad skills, who knows?) and he transformed me into a chubby Irish American suburbanite. I miss those days….

Do you believe you’ll ever make a living as a writer?

Oh, without a doubt. I’m sure at any moment a traveling literary agent/publisher will stop by my local Starbucks (where I spend 8-to-10 hours a day stroking my facial hair reflectively) and they’ll see me typing and offer me a 12 book, multi-billion dollar deal and I’ll spend my days being rubbed down by blonde virginal Sciencetologist girls and swimming around in my mountains of cash and gold like Scrooge McDuck….but I’m keeping my options open. My alpaca slaughter house should be up and running any day now. The next big trend in meat and meat products is alpaca, ya know?

Who’s the one current novelist you admire the most? Who do you most try to emulate?
I admire a lot of writers for different reasons, but if I had to narrow it down to one writer and one writer only, I’d have to say Al Guthrie. Recently I’ve been re-reading most of Guthrie’s novels and stories and I’ve been struck by the subtle power of Guthrie’s sentences. Plus, Al’s worn so many different hats in publishing but has yet to be pigeon holed by an industry that seems to love to label people (but isn’t that every industry?)

Print or electronic? Which is better?

You know, I’ve been thinking about going completely retro lately switching over my storytelling to smoke signals and cave paints….seriously, though, if I have one more person ask me that question I’m going to go all monkey and start flinging my poop at them. (and, yes, I’m now covered in my own feces because I asked myself the question.) Reading is reading and how we read has always changed and always will.

What short story writer has impressed you the most recently and why?

Jedidiah Ayres.

Over the last year I think I've read and re-read more of Jed's stories than any other short story writer and the reason I think I keep going back to them is two things:

A) Ayres gets noir right.

In a recent essay for the Huffington Post, well known anthologist and book curmudgeon, Otto Pelzner, defined noir as:

"Noir isn't about private detectives, it's about losers."

And that's exactly who Ayres writes about, losers. They're not exactly bad guys (okay, most of them are pretty fucked up, especially Herbert Wainscott from Ayres novella "the Whole Buffalo" from the debut of issue of Needle Magazine.) they're just not the type of guys you'd want to invite into your house for Sunday dinner out of fear they'd rob you blind or sneak upstairs with your teenage daughter while you had your back turned or both (most likely both)

B) Voice

Isn't this the most important thing in any writer? The problem with crime fiction, though, is as writers we tend to limit ourselves on the content of our stories and novels. The major issue with this is that so many stories start to read the same after awhile and blend into one big blood streaked mess of guns, thieves, hitmen, and scumbags. With Ayres, he utilizes these devices but doesn’t spread a layer of gloss over them to make them seem more romantic, they’re men and women who live in trailer parks, work at strip clubs and are absolutely marginal just as most criminal are in real life.

Chris F. Holm and Jimmy Callaway rank a close second and third for me, too. Great writers.

Who’s the one writer you’d like to meet face-to-face?
Well, since I’ve already met Ellroy and Lansdale, I’d have to say it’s a tie between Daniel Woodrell and Victor Gischler. But the restraining order Victor has out against me prohibits me from coming within 100 miles of him, so I guess Daniel Woodrell.
And my last question, in your bio on your blog, you mention you’re married. How the hell did that happen you plug ugly troll?

Let’s just say that my wife Alicia likes “projects” and is persistent to the point of obsession and she’s been obsessed with “fixing” me for nearly 14 years.

and as I commented first time round, a standing O for Keith Raaaaawwwwwwwssssssson  .....ccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...


  1. Hilarious -- well done! (And my mention totally knocked me back. Thanks much, Keith.)

  2. what a fantastic take on the theme.
    looking forward to your piece, Chris.
    Chuck Wendig just confirmed he's in and RJ Ellory has sent in his interview and it's really quite special. nice work and big thanks everyone.

  3. Funny as hell, Keith. And I agree on the endless stale discussion of print or electronic. That ship has sailed.

  4. Hey, c'mon: nobody's compared you to Brad Pitt, drug-ravaged or otherwise.

  5. The guy who interviewed Keith and the guy who interviewed me should get together and throw feces at people together

  6. That was really friggin funny. All the short story writers you mentioned--Ayres, Holm, Callaway--are producing great stuff.

  7. What a funny, funny man. I think you've got to have a good sense of humor to be a great crime writer.

  8. Keith, you shouldn't take yourself so seriously, man.

  9. Dude. Couldn't you at least have made it florescent yellow, flaming monkey poop just for the decorative effect? You do have good taste in writers though.

  10. That was great. Well done, Keith and well done Nigel for doing this. I'll be back to check out the others.

  11. Thanks, Keith. Excellent company to be keeping. Honored.

  12. Hilarious. And as for the list--this is probably the only time in my life I will be listed alongside such a fantastic group of writers--I can't wait to read everyone else's interview.

  13. Thanks for all the comments, folks. The interview was a ton of fun to write and I can't wait to read the rest of these.

  14. Cracking stuff. Funny writer, funny man. And I agree about Jed Ayres "the Whole Buffalo". Fantastic story and very , very dark.

  15. I just read The Whole Buffalo and it really got to me. Good balance of humor and pathos for a really messed up guy. Next time I read it I'm gonna imagine the guy as you with that tiara.