Jedidiah: Thanks, I’m really pleased to finally have this book out of my system, it’s been bothering me for years. It’s the story of the partnership between a crooked cop and a gangster who regulate vice in a small town and the agent of chaos – Terry Hickerson, king of the douchebags in southern Missouri – who’s likely to burn the whole thing down in pursuit of his American Dream, easy money.
WN: Two of your short stories from “A F*ckload of Shorts” were adapted into films: Viscosity and A F*ckload of Scotch Tape. What was that experience like?
Jedidiah: It’s been pretty wild. Julian Grant had a unique vision for A F*ckload of Scotch Tape as a skid-row opera and somehow he pulled it off. We’d been talking about it for a couple of years and I’d already granted the option when I found out it was going to be a musical, but really, that just made me more excited. I already had the story the way I wanted it, so I was happy for someone with a bold vision to have a go. The movie is this little trashy masterpiece that, love it or hate it, you’ll probably not ever forget.
And Viscosity, the short story, was just this dirty little dialogue-only vignette about the sexual misadventures of young men before they start experimenting with two-somes. Paul von Stoetzel made a hilarious short film out of it and that thing has played around the world. Seemed every time I turned around it was featured in a new film festival. I got to see it screen at one festival, in a program with other humorous short films, and the evening began with a heart-felt plea from the festival for the audience not to walk out if they were offended by it, as it would be over soon and another, safer film would be on in just a couple of minutes. Made me smile. I’m really pleased for Paul who just announced his next feature film – an adaptation of one my favorite novels of the last ten years, Anthony Neil Smith’s Hogdoggin’.
Jedidiah: All the respect. And the money.
Jedidiah: I look for a hook, something I’m going to remember tomorrow, next week and next year – whether it’s a voice, or a character, an incident, an empathy or even a single line that stands out and won’t stop rattling around in my head. Hopefully, it’s all of those things rolled into a single package. The last anthology I put together, Noir at the Bar Vol. 2, had several of those – pick it up and read stories from John Rector, Jane Bradley, Matthew McBride or Benjamin Whitmer, you’ll see what I mean.
Jedidiah: As a reader I don’t really know. I will say this – I love a piece of writing, regardless of length, that will pull me through, that I don’t have to work up the energy to complete, not that there’s no value in working through something challenging, but I do feel that a lot of novels have so much extraneous content that they’d be far better as short stories or just a hundred and fifty pages rather than three hundred.
As a writer, I’m trying my damnedest to only write the good parts. Sometimes that means it will only be a short story or a novella instead of a novel – there’s plenty of plot in my novella Fierce Bitches to support a much longer book, but it didn’t excite me to tease it out. If I wouldn’t enjoy reading it, I don’t want to write it. One reason I was excited to work with J. David Osborne at Broken River Books was his insistence that Peckerwood be trimmed, trimmed, trimmed. I’m not sure what the final word count is going to be yet, but it will probably be ten thousand fewer words than the original manuscript. Look at Osborne’s own novels, or James Sallis or Daniel Woodrell and you’ll find that stripped down prose that will make a much bigger emotional impact without the padding of extra words.
Jedidiah: I met Greg Bardsley a few years ago, already a big fan of his stuff, and when he turned out to be such a fantastic, genuine human being, I really wanted to work with him on something. Over a few beers that night we tossed around increasingly stupid ideas for projects we might enjoy creating, and I pretty much forgot about it in the morning. But Greg had more vision than I did and a few months later I heard from he and Kieran Shea that they were going ahead with this Dick Cheney anthology – would I like to be a part of it? Hell, yes, I would. I plan on riding Greg and Kieran’s coattails a long, long way. We got a lot of interesting reactions to it too. Lots of folks sounded really excited about providing a story for it, and then backed out, some for time constraints and others for fear of wiretaps and political fallout amongst their readership. Those people are smart. I don’t claim to be. I had a blast.
WN: What should readers expect from the books you’ve written or edited?
Jedidiah: Bad people doing bad things and coming to bad ends. Though, if you don’t cringe at justice being leveled, if you don’t want me to spare them the full brunt of consequence, if no pity for those pitiable creatures has been awakened in you by the end of a story, then I have failed. I want the reader to connect with each one of the people I write about (I have.) I see each as an extension of myself a mile or so down the wrong path. I see myself only a bad choice or two away from any one of them and precariously perched on the lip of the abyss on a good day.
Jedidiah: Oh man, do you know of any writing space available? I would love to have some. I write at the dining room table too late in the evening, trying not to disturb the family, or at bars and coffee shops surrounded by people putting their time to much better use than I am. I have zero routine or strategy. I’m a mess. So far, I’ve learned five different ways not to write a book. If you can help me, do.
Jedidiah: “We all have it coming, kid.” – Will Munny (Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven)
There, but for the grace of God, go I.