Friday, 25 November 2011

Dancing With Me-self: BENOIT LELIEVRE interviews BENOIT LELIEVRE

So, who the fuck are you?

Oh. Is that the part where I'm suppose to introduce myself and say I'm a writer?


How about no? How about you find better questions. Everybody knows I'm a writer. Everbody that does this self-interview thingie ARE writers. Give me something to work with, man.

All right. All right. Calm down.

It's always the same fucking story with you. You want me to go through the same channels than everybody else and I end up sucking or being average at best. Aren't you tired of this bullshit?

Yes, I am. But it's you that likes to play this passive-aggressive I'm-lovable-and-witty-and-I-hate-you game. You know what, fuck you too.

Here we go again.


*sigh* Yes, I'm a writer.

How so? What qualifies you to say you're a writer? Do you have to subscribe to a club? Do you have a hat that says “I'm a writer”?

Wow, a good question. I published a few short stories. Four so far, in reputable underground publications. I know I have one more coming up this Fall, but I'm shopping several more also. My latest is called BURNING, in the latest edition of Pulp Metal. In it, I launch my new recurring character Lowell Sweeney.

I don't know, I'm a writer because I'm active, I guess. I spent time writing and submitting to magazines and learning as I go. I was tired to be this “I'm-writing-a-novel” guy who didn't have anything to show for himself. I'm writing, I'm doing the best I can. I get my name out there.

Any smug bastard with a good pen can publish a few short stories, though. It looks good on a resume and in house parties. Really, how do you know you're a writer and not one of those fakes you hate?

I don't know, all right? I guess I'll never know, because I'm the worst judge for myself. The need to write, it's not something I can explain very well. It's like, I see something that inspires me and I will heard voices, see faces, develop around that thing.

For example, Lowell Sweeney came to me while watching
BREAKING BAD. I saw Walter White and I saw a walking dead man, who sold his soul the day he learned his fate was almost sealed. Then, he became a thousand times the man he should have been, but at a terrible cost. Lowell was born out of that rotting beauty. I don't know if this makes sense or not?

No. Who's Lowell Sweeney exactly?

He's my character. I have several stories written about him already. He's a blue-chipper policeman who never really failed at anything until the day dirty cops catch him red handed with some coke. Turned out he had a big coke problem he thought he had under control.

They're starting to blackmail him about that and they make him do odd enforcer jobs, until one day where they call him up to do something he refuses. But he does it anyway and his life spins upside down. That's it. I can't say more without spoiling anything. You read the stories anyway.
I did. When are they coming out?

BURNING came out this month. I have another one called DROWNING, which is almost done. The rest are simmering in between drafts. They should come out gradually in 2012. I have four written.

All right, so what are your plans for 2012, except for the stories?

The novel is on the ice. I don't believe in that project anymore. I'm thinking maybe I'll try my luck with a novella. I have this story I've been working on called GODSPEED ON THE DEVIL'S THUNDER, which is pretty dark and messed up. I think I could go up to 20 000 words with this. Other than that. I don't know yet.

Why do you think readers should read you, and not the others?

Why would they have to read only me? I read a hundred different writers a year. My stories are dark and sad, but it's only for a certain mood, you know. Literature is a “the-more-the-merrier” type of situation, no?

What I meant was why readers should spend their money on YOUR books?

Shut up.

All right, who else do you suggest they spend their money on?

I see your fucking game, man. You want me to name some writers to put me on the spot. Like I have some favorites. Fuck you, I'm not doing that.

Oh come on, man. There are so many writers in underground crime fiction, you must have a few favorites. Just aesthetically speaking.

Just aesthetically, promise?


I think Frank Bill is the next big thing. By that, I mean Hemingway big. I mean will-be-studied-in-high-school-or-in-college big. He has the stories, the unique handle on language, the hard nosed attitude, even the style. He's not my favorite, but he's up there and I think he will get rich from writing.

Other than that, I really like Matthew C. Funk's stories. He has that demented criminal character named Parnell. He might be the only character who ever scared me right off the page. That guy is SERIOUS. He will butcher your wife if you steal a dollar and a half from him. I think he's Matthew's ticket to glory, but I might be the only one to think that.

I'm not gonna name any more, because it's going to create tension and I will be tempted to smack your fucking face.

Calm down, man. That bourbon is driving you mad. Let's take it from another angle. Who are your favorite writers then?

Dennis Lehane is the guy that pushed me to write. I mean, not personally but his novels had a profound effect on me. Especially MYSTIC RIVER and DARKNESS, TAKE MY HAND. Other than that, I like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Rollins and Haruki Murakami a lot.

Aren't you forgetting someone?

Yes, Anthony Neil Smith. I really love his novels. They came to mean a lot to me, especially CHOKE ON YOUR LIES and the Billy Lafitte ones. It's funny because we talk on Twitter and he seems to think I'm a loon because of that, but I don't care. As long as he keeps writing, his stories will make me happy and encourage me to write some more.

Anything else you want to say?

Yes, buy The Lost Children Anthology. It`s cheap and it`s been put together by Thomas Pluck and Fiona Johnson, that are two wonderful writers of their own. The benefits from the anthology will be given to PROTECT and Children First, so it`s a good cause and I have a story in it, titled UNDER THE GAZE OF SATURN.
Buy Beat To A Pulp: Hardboiled also, because I`m in it and I`m very proud to be. It put some writers on the mat before. And read BURNING in Pulp Metal Magazine and leave me comments. I`m a sucker for those.