Do you anxiously await the next installment in the Hap and Leonard novels? Did you love Buba Hotep? If so, you may just be a Joe R Lansdale fan. Don't worry, though—that's a good thing. Lansdale comes to Santa Fe this week for the aptly titled Lansdale-Palooza, a full evening of themed activities alongside his old pal George RR Martin at Martin's Jean Cocteau Cinema (5 pm Saturday October 5. $10. 418 Montezuma Ave., 466-5528). He'll sign copies of The Elephant of Surprise, the theater screens Buba Hotep and Lansdale and Martin engage in conversation for your listening pleasure. Pretty cool.
I read someplace in an interview from a few years back that your biggest trick to writing is just showing up. Do you still feel that?
I definitely feel that's true. I talk to people all the time—just yesterday I was at a book club with people who want to be writers, and I told them inspiration comes from you. You're it. I said to think back to the day you were inspired and remember what you wrote that day, then compare it to the days you don't feel inspired, you'll find they're generally the same. I show up five-to-seven days a week. I work roughly 3 hours a day, sometimes less. If I work 30 minutes and I get three-to-five pages, then I stop. If I have more coming, I go on, but I rarely pass three hours. When I started in the '70s as a young man in my 20s, I found it very difficult to sit there and write, I'd rather have read, and I always started out my morning with a little bit of reading, I still do, but back then I had a harder time stopping.
It seems people struggle to place you in a genre, often referring to you as your own thing altogether. Does that feel good? Weird? Some combination?
I think it's flattering. I like that. That is what I'm striving for. I don't want people saying 'I wanna pick up a horror book, I wanna pick up a thriller book' I want them saying 'I wanna pick up a Joe Lansdale book,' even if some of the things I've written fit in those boxes. I don't have a problem with someone saying I wrote a horror story, but I have a problem with someone saying I'm a horror writer, I've always brought different elements from different genres.
Haven't had a chance to read the new one yet, but I hear it's action, action, action. How do you decide to go for something like that, and does it change up your process in any way?
It was written very quickly, but a lot of my stuff Is written very quickly. The thing for me with Hap and Lenoard, I've always tried to make it like that same universe, the same guys, but I've always tried to have those guys evolve. The first [book] is the caper gone bad, the second is the serial killer novel to some extent, the third is … I don't know what that is, but the whole point is that each time out I try to write about the characters … it's different but the same. It's the mood I was in. Next time out who knows, I may write a highly introspective novel about them, which I've done. I write like everyone I know is dead, and by that I mean I can't be sitting there writing with my wife, friends, agents, looking over my shoulder and trying to write for them. I try to do what interests me. Then I hope after I'm done there will be people interested in what I'm interested in. Sometimes thy are, sometimes they aren't, but I got into writing to entertain me.