Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Dancing With Myself: JAMES REASONER interviews JAMES REASONER

The holiday is almost upon us. For some that means mad-crazy family times or busy socialising, for others it might be the chance to write that they miss out on during periods of work.

If you write and find yourself with time on your hands, here's a competition you might like to try. It's to write a crime story based upon a fairytale and you know just how dark those things can be.

Follow this link http://bit.ly/g4eDNP and you should end up there.

And for your delight today, interviewing himself is James Reasoner. Let's hear it ladies and gentleman.

Q: Were you a lonely, morose child who preferred the make-believe world inside your head to the real world around you?

A: Excuse me, what was the question? I was thinking about a story.

Q: Who was the first professional writer you met?

A: The first published writer I met was my cousin Richard Finley, who had a short story published in his college literary magazine. But the first pro I met was Bill Crider, who remains a good friend and occasional collaborator more than thirty years later. I had been corresponding with Bill – I’d gotten his address out of a mystery fanzine, Andy Jaysnovitch’s THE NOT SO PRIVATE EYE – and since at that time he lived only about 120 miles away from me, I drove down there one day to meet him and have lunch with him and his family. It was only a few months after that I met a number of other authors – Kerry Newcomb, Joe Lansdale, Scott Cupp, Neal Barrett Jr., and Robert E. Vardeman come to mind – and I’m still friends with all of them. But Bill was first.

Q: Do you read reviews of your books?

A: I do, even though I know I probably shouldn’t. The good ones always make me feel good, and the bad ones gnaw at me (although not nearly as much as they used to). I’ve made humorous use of some of the bad ones by pointing out that I’ve been accused not only of writing the worst Civil War novel written but also the worst World War II novel ever written, and how it takes real talent to accomplish something like that.

Q: What’s the angriest you’ve ever been at a reader?

A: Years ago I attended an Arbor Day festival in a town near where I live. The local bookstore always brought in a number of authors and had a mass autographing in one of the tents at the festival. I was sick that day (fever of 104) but went anyway because I’d promised I’d be there and the store had ordered a lot of my books. So I’m sitting there smiling, signing books, and being pleasant to everyone despite the fact that I feel terrible, when a woman who obviously had been drinking stumbled up to the table. She picked up one of my books, flipped through it, stopped and said to her companion in a loud voice, “Oh, my God, listen to this!”, then started reading from the book in a scornful, sarcastic tone, proclaiming after a paragraph, “Isn’t that awful?” Then she dropped the book back on the table and stumbled on her way.

The smile never budged from my face. The writer who was sitting next to me leaned over and said, “I would have gone across the table and killed her if she’d done that to me. You’re the most gracious person I’ve ever seen.”

Not completely. I was too dizzy to stand up just then. And it could have been worse. As drunk as she was, she could have thrown up on me.

Q: Has anybody ever thrown up on you at a book signing?

A: No, but a writer friend of mine was once urinated on by a rabbit at one.

Q: You’re known for writing fast. What’s the quickest you’ve ever written a book?

A: I did a 57,000 word novel in 7½ days. That’s my record. I’ve done a handful of novels in ten days or less, but that’s not common. Most of my books take considerably longer than that. And I always try to remember, it doesn’t matter how fast the words come out if they’re not good words.

Q: What have you not written that you’d like to?

A: I’d like to write some horror novels, and I’d like to write at least one science fiction novel. I’ve written short stories in both genres, but nothing novel-length.

Q: What song are they going to play at your funeral?

A: “So Long, Saddle Pals” by Riders in the Sky.

Q: What will be written on your tombstone?

A: Well, I plan to be cremated, so I won’t have a tombstone, but if I did, I think the epitaph should read, “Come on, I need ten more pages!”

Q: If we can get past this unhealthy obsession with death you seem to have, what book do you want to plug?

A: REDEMPTION, KANSAS, the first book in a new Western series I’m doing for Berkley, will be out in March 2011. I’d love to see this series be successful enough to continue for a while, because I think there are a lot of interesting stories to tell, even in a small town like Redemption.


  1. That was a superb and funny interview, James.

  2. Any friend of Bill's is a "friend of mine" ... gonna go look for that civil war novel ... I'm sure it's terrific.

  3. Just got Manasas on Kindle ... that's what I'm talking about!

  4. I just want to point out that I'm not the person the rabbit urinated on.

  5. I couldn't even type another person's book that fast. Amazing.

  6. That was a great read, James. 57K in a week is unbelievable. Best of luck with new novel.

    Nigel- Thanks for the tip on the TIRBD contest, already decided which fairy tale I'm using.

  7. Sean, glad you're in the competition.

    Charlie, I'm definitely getting Kindle from Santa.

    James, many thanks. Truly love that cover.

  8. Nigel, I love this site (get new reads all the time from here now, including my favorite of 2010, Pike).

    I'm 5 chapters into Manassas and it's terrific. In fact, I have to recommend this one to Russel McClean's dad because we share a love of westerns (A.B. Guthries Montana series).

  9. Oh, the drunk reader woman would have broken me, I fear. Hilarious in the retelling though.

  10. great to have the site appreciated - thanks. it's hard work but i'm loving it.
    and Pike came out as top for me as well, tied with Savages.