Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meet Grant Jerkins, author of A VERY SIMPLE CRIME.

Here we are at last. I am thrilled to introduce author Grant Jerkins, and talk about his book A VERY SIMPLE CRIME. I hope you won’t mind, Grant, but having the esteemed writer, actor and painter Robert Leland Taylor here just seemed a lovely idea.

Mme Perry: A VERY SIMPLE CRIME captivated me because of the well drawn characters, the story, and very sharp writing. How long did you work on this book?

Grant Jerkins: It’s funny, because the published version of the book was basically my first draft, which took perhaps four months to write. During the years of struggle to find a publisher (long before the epublishing revolution), I ended up writing several additional drafts to suit other people’s vision of what the book should be. I even wrote a screenplay version. In the end, it was that first fevered four month draft that made it into print.

Robert Leland Taylor: I notice that you're often drawn to the darker side of human nature. Does this represent a pessimistic view of humankind on your part?

GJ: Hmmm. You’re putting me on the spot with this one. I hate to say I’m pessimistic or misanthropic, but clearly I’m drawn to characters who are. I think maybe I just feel like each of us is born into the dark, stumbling through it as we mature, and that most of us will never find our way out of the dark in our lifetimes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other out along the way. Light a match and share a minute or two of illumination with a friend. But the match goes out and we have to keep moving forward. Alone. In the dark.
MP: Which authors do you most enjoy reading?

GJ: I love the writing of James M. Cain. He’s not as well known today as his peers - Hemmingway, Chandler, and Hammet, but he’s my favorite. John O’Brien. Lawrence Block. Stephen King has been a major influence. Kurt Vonnegut, JD Salinger, and Truman Capote. Flannery O’Connor is a favorite. Right now I’m really enchanted with Donald Ray Pollock and Daniel Woodrell.

RLT: How do you feel about reading your own stuff? Is it a pleasant or unpleasant experience for you?

GJ: By the time a book gets published, you’ve read it so many times that you can’t help but be sick of it. And by that point you can see all the chicken wire, duct tape, and spackle holding it in place. You can’t fathom how others won’t see the awkward stitches where you’ve sewn your creature together. That said, I can still find passages that I enjoy reading and sharing with others.

MP: Do you have a specific process for creating your characters and their backgrounds?

GJ: Good question! I do not have a specific process for creating characters. I know a lot of writers use a system or check lists (What does your character want? What is he/she struggling to achieve?) to create characters, but that seems so artificial to me.

RLT: What aspect of novel-writing do you find the most difficult?

GJ: Beginning. The single hardest thing about writing a novel is starting the damn thing. After that, if you’re disciplined and write every day, it’s not that hard of a process. It’s even an enjoyable process. If you’re not disciplined and you don’t write every day, then the days you do write feel like you’re starting all over again, and it’s just torture.

RLT: Boxers or briefs--and how often, if ever, do you change them?

GJ: Commando.

MP: You don’t have to answer Robert’s last question, Grant, you know he can easily become distracted and take everyone with him.

GJ: I’m sorry, what?

RLT: On a scale of one to ten, one being the worst, how sorry are you for agreeing to do this interview and how badly will it hurt your career?

MP: Mr. Taylor!

GJ: Commando.

MP: Now, now, Mr. Taylor, you promised to behave. Thank you for being our guest, Grant. Tell us the title of your next book, and when we will see it.

GJ: The next book is called AT THE END OF THE ROAD, which sounds a little bit like directions to the town dump, but actually it’s a very personal book about my experiences growing up on an isolated red dirt road in rural Georgia (which was surprisingly violent).

The book is based on a real incident from my childhood. When I was ten, I was riding my bike in the middle of the road in front of my house when a car came speeding around a curve in the road. To avoid hitting me, the woman behind the wheel had to swerve. Her car flipped and rolled, landing on its side. The woman crawled out, bloody and battered. She asked me to help her, but I ran away. I was scared. I was ten years old. So I ran away and never told a soul. The next day I went back and the car was gone. No sign of the accident remained. The woman and her car had just disappeared. AT THE END OF THE ROAD is my imagining of what might have happened to that woman.

The book will be in stores November 1st, and it’s currently available for pre-order wherever you like to buy books. Unless you buy your books out of Robert’s garage. He doesn’t do pre-orders. Still waiting on my copy of Decision Points.

MP: Also waiting on mine. Mr. Taylor? Thank you both for being my guests here at Madame Perry’s Salon. It has been every bit the pleasure I imagined. Much success to you both.

RLT: I'd just like to say that I've read AT THE END OF THE ROAD and was blown away by it. It touched me on a number of emotional levels that I can't begin to describe. I wasn't aware until now that the story was partially based on an actual incident, and this makes it all the more intriguing. It deserves to become a huge success. Thanks for sharing, Grant, and thanks to you, Jennifer, for having me.http://www.grantjerkins.com/.

MP: You can follow Grant on TwitterFacebook, or visit his website to find out where you can see him live.

And here's a nice bit of post script: Barbet Schroeder (Barfly, Reversal of Fortune) is attached to direct the film version. Adapted for the screen by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (At Close Range, Reversal of Fortune) and O'Neill Fellowship playwright Terry Curtis Fox (Cops, The Pornographer's Daughter.) Currently in pre-production.

6 comments:

Christopher Hudson said...

Madame: I like your interviewing style ... but how do you get your 'gets'? Mr. Jerkins seems like such an accomplished author ... all I can get is one of my golfing buddies.

Madame Perry said...

You flatter me, Mr. Hudson, though I admit my secret recipe deviled eggs are rather persuasive.

Grant Jerkins said...

Mme Perry,

Thanks again for the invite. I certainly enjoyed myself. And I love that you tagged Decision Points. We really need to spread the word about that neglected book. Take care, - Grant

Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou said...

What a fun interview. Grant, I totally agree...we ARE born into the dark, which is why we're here, to find the light...then we do it all again because we're stupid and prefer the dark...Jennifer, deviled eggs? Recipe please! I will be reading some Grant Jerkins...ta ta!

Fairday Morrow said...

What an interesting interview. I enjoyed the humor. How amazing that his 1st draft was the draft that eventually got picked up and published!

~Jess
http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

Jessica said...

Oh my! I was laughing at "Commando" and that whole section and then I came to the part about The End of the Road and that was really shocking!! I hope that lady was okay. As a ten year old that must have been terrifying!