Monday 5 November 2012

Gary Carson interview: Hot Wire |
Can you sum up Hot Wire in no more than 25 words?
A female car thief steals the wrong car and finds herself the target of dark forces colliding over a sinister government conspiracy.
What's unique about it?
Hot Wire is a cross-genre suspense novel, a fusion of noir crime and political conspiracy thriller inspired by the mass paranoia and institutional corruption of 21st Century Amerika. A fast-moving and at times darkly comic story of hot cars, organized crime and black operations spiralling into chaos, the novel is narrated by one of the more unusual protagonists in crime fiction, the 19-year-old professional car thief, Emma Martin, aka "Little Bo Peep." An impulsive, scrawny little runt with glasses and a ponytail, Emma's worries about her job security lead her to jack the wrong car from the wrong people at just the wrong time, triggering a series of events that cascade to an explosive conclusion.
What are your expectations for the book?
Writing is a difficult racket to break into and I try to be as realistic about my chances as possible. Taking into account my own failings not only as a human being but as a writer, I figure that Hot Wire will probably be a huge commercial success and make me rich and famous. I expect the novel will be picked up by a major New York publisher and become a runaway bestseller translated into a dozen different languages. Like The Da Vinci Code, one of the masterpieces of modern literature, Hot Wire will be the focus of reading circles and book clubs around the world. Housewives will meet in their suburban living rooms to analyze the book and drool over my photograph on the back cover, and the novel will be optioned by HollyWeird after a frenzied bidding war that will drive the price into orbit. I will then purchase the last surviving Foo Fighter and retire to New Swabia in Antarctica where the lingerie model Kate Upton will tend to my basic physiological requirements.
What did you learn while writing it?
During the course of writing Hot Wire, I learned that 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, resulting in nearly eight years of content uploaded every day.
Do you bear the reader in mind while you're writing? If so, how does that affect the way you write?
Considering the fact that my only reader lives in the United States, I decided to write all of my books in English instead of my native language,  Gnomish. Also, since my reader is a member of the Church Of God With Signs And Wonders, a snake-handling cult in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I try to keep my language as clean as possible. If I'm compelled for artistic reasons to use particularly blasphemous or filthy words or phrases, I translate them into Spanish or Russian using Google. For example, instead of saying "Fuck a Jesus," a phrase I picked up from my bail bondsman, Charlie Brooker, I'll say mbwa instead. This baffles my reader and gives him the illusion that he's reading High Literature.
How important is talent?
Talent is over-rated and considering the quality of most of the dribble on sale in my local Barnes & Noble, completely unnecessary to the creative process. Writing is a craft like making a pipe bomb or using a Fleshlight and a writer has to master several basic skills that have diddly-squat to do with talent.
You have to be able to multitask, to work under pressure and ignore distractions. For example, a professional hack can write a three-way sex scene between two lesbian meter maids and an intelligent power drill while smoking a White Owl cigar and drinking a jug of Ripple wine with the Craig Ferguson show on TV and Ozric Tentacles blasting over the stereo, all with a headful of methylenedioxypyrovalerone.
To be productive, you have to know how to locate the browser icon on your computer and the snooze button on your radio-alarm clock, and you should have a basic knowledge of auto-erotica. And shoplifting skills are essential to be a successful writer. You should have enough knowledge of electronics to build your own EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) tag proximity deactivator and it's important to know that most people never pay any attention to anything that's going on around them. The best way to avoid capture is to deactivate those tags, then wheel your loaded shopping cart out the door like you own it.
Nobody will notice. Guaranteed.
What's the worst piece of craft advice you've heard?
Don't get me started on this. Most writing advice is worthless, especially the swill you get in college "writer's workshops" where a bunch of  iGeneration douche-bags sit around in a circle and criticize each other's work while the professor sits behind his desk, playing with himself. After all, if the douche-bags knew anything about writing, they wouldn't be taking a class to learn about writing, would they? And the gibberish found in most writing-craft books in your local book barn isn't much better.
There's so much bad advice floating around that it's hard to pick the worst, but "write what you know" has to be in the Top Ten. If everyone followed that piece of wisdom, we could eliminate most science fiction, murder mysteries, crime novels, thrillers, horror stories and historical fiction, just to name a few categories. All we'd have left would be books about writers drinking too much, arguing with their teenage children, going to work for insurance companies and sacrificing cheerleaders to Cthulhu in the middle of the night.
"Write a draft, then give it to a friend who can review it and advise you." 
Mbwa. I don't know about you, but most of my friends are illiterate hillbillies who don't know jack about writing and don't even read. In fact, the only person I know who reads anything runs a small-town beauty salon and likes "Inspirational Romances." Once I mentioned to an old hippy friend that I was writing a novel and he said "Oh, you want to be the next Tom Robbins." The guy hadn't cracked a book since he read the Cliff Notes version of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues back in 1976.
There seem to be two schools of writing: "important" literary academic bilge that focuses on language and "irony," and commercial fiction written by actual writers who are trying to make a living. The literary crap is surrounded by a smog of platitudes about "muses" and "cultural significance" and "finding your inner voice" that reeks of motivational seminars and self-help manuals. For instance, I read one article that advised writers to "honor the miraculousness of the ordinary," whatever the hell that means. But the worst advice I've stumbled onto recently goes like this:
"Remember: writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others and pass it on."
In the real world, the writing business works like this:
Put these in order of importance: language, character, plot, money.


To what extent do you view writing as a business?

Writing is strictly a business as far as I'm concerned. My heroes are the old pulp writers who cranked out thousands of books under various pseudonyms at two cents a word in order to pay the rent. Guys like Erle Stanley Gardner, for instance. The ultimate hack, he dictated all of his Perry Mason novels on an ancient dictaphone while lying around on a couch at his ranch in Temecula, California. He produced dozens of paperbacks every year, employed a small army of secretaries to transcribe his stuff and was one of the most successful novelists in the world at one time. Now, that's what I call a business. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing myself as a business since businesses are supposed to make money. If this was 1930, I don't think I'd have this problem.


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