Written and conducted by Wayne C. Rogers
“The great East Texas author, Joe R. Lansdale, has been writing and doing martial arts since he was a teenager. He never outgrew both things, either. Instead, he became a literal master of his own style of defensive and offensive hand and feet techniques known as Shen Chuan. As a fan of the late Bruce Lee, I can say that watching Joe Lansdale move in one of the You Tube videos on the Internet never ceases to amaze me. More so because this gentleman (I hear Leonard laughing in the background) has hands that are every bit as fast as Bruce Lee’s ever were, and Joe is now 61.
With regards to writing, Joe has tried his hand at everything from short stories, novellas, novels, comic books, grahpic novels, screenplays, and anything else he can think of that triggers his interest. He has won eight Bram Stoker Awards. One is hard enough to win, but Joe has eight of them sitting on his bookshelves. Not only that, but this is an author who won’t allow himself to be pigeon-holed in any one genre. He writes Westerns. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Thrillers, Horror, Mainstream Drama, Young Adult, and Historical. Joe writes what he would enjoy reading; yet, always with his own distinctive East Texas voice that’s filled with just the right amount of humor that’s downright intoxicating to the soul.
This author has also had a number of bestsellers over the last decade. His novel, The Bottoms, is probably the best book I’ve ever read. Then, there’s A Fine Dark Line, Sunset & Sawdust, Lost Echoes, Leather Maidens, and Edge of Dark Water. His newest novel, Thicket, is due out in September of 2013, and this might be the book that finally makes him a New York Times #1 Bestselling author.
If that wasn’t enough, Joe Lansdale’s novella, Bubba Ho-Tep was turned into an excellent horror film in 2002 by Don Coscarelli, and then his short story, Incident On and Off a Mountain Road, was done as an episode for the Showtime series Masters of Horror. Joe produced the horror film, Christmas With the Dead, in 2011, which is based on his short story. The movie should be out on DVD sometime in 2013. Also, The Bottoms is being co-produced by Joe and directed by Bill Paxton. Joe Lansdale’s most famous series is his Hap Collins/Leonard Pine novels, and they are now being developed for television.
This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Joe has not only written over thirty novels, but also at least a dozen short story collections that are still in print with his most famous being High Cotton and The Best of Joe Lansdale. He has a massive tomb of stories, Bleeding Shadows, coming out in November of 2013 from the well-known specialty publisher, Subterranean Press. This will be a beautifully crafted edition that’s bound to sell out fast.
If this wasn’t all, Joe Lansdale also has a lovely daughter, Kasey, who is an actress, a writer, an editor, and a very talented musician. One day soon she’ll be winning the American Country Music Award for Best Song. So, move over and make room for here. Let’s not forget Joe’s son, Keith, who wrote the screenplay for Christmas With the Dead. This is one talented family.”
Now, on to the questions.
Wayne C. Rogers: Joe, you really started being published in the eighties and then went hog wild in the nineties and during the first decade of the new century. Do you feel that the best is still yet to come with your books and short stories?
Joe R. Lansdale: Actually, I started publishing in the seventies, but it was mostly non-fiction until the late seventies when I began to publish fiction. I like to think the best is yet to come. I’ve written a lot between 2000 and 2013. There may be a little less of it, but I’m thinking the quality is going to grow.
WCR: I know you regard Edge of Darkness as your best novel to date. Did the HC reach your expectations with regards to sales? How is the paperback edition selling? Do you plan on bringing back that rascal and stinker, Skunk, for another outing sometime in the future? That was probably the scariest villian I’ve ever read.
JRL: I never feel I reach the sales I want. So, no. But it’s still selling in paperback and it was optioned for film, and overseas in Italy it was a bestseller, and it seems to be doing well in Germany. It has also placed in a number of other countries, and Mulholland is still working it. I really like that company a lot.
WCR: Staying with Edge of Darkness for a moment, I heard that your very talented daughter, Kasey, wrote a special song for the book. Can it be listened to on the Internet? Are you sharing your royalties of the novel with her?
JRL: Kasey has a download you can get on the internet, and I think some of the books have now been corrected for a download. The British edition certainly has that. She got a lot of attention of that song, ended up touring with me in Germany and Austria. I spoke, and she sang. It was a lot of fun. Her new album has just been completed with John Carter Cash being the producer, and she co-wrote some of the songs. As for Edge of Dark Water it’s not on that album, but she wrote and performs it. She also produced it.
WCR: You have a new novel, Thicket, coming out this September from Mulholland Books. What can you tell us about it, and how would you rate it with Edge of Dark Water?
JRL: It’s too early to rate it. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. I feel it’s good, but I don’t have a scale for it. It’s got a lot of Western connection in it. It takes place in 1915 and there are vestiges of the previous century, and the beginnings of the new. I like the background for it, and I think the story and characters are grabbers. It’s about a kidnapping and a rescue attempt. One of the main characters is a dwarf bounty hunter.
WCR: I want to mention Bleeding Shadows, which is being published by Subterranean Press. This will be a mammoth-sized collection of your short stories done in a lovely, crafted edition. Will these be previously published stories? If so, will there be any new fiction by you between the covers? The book is supposed to be over 400 pages in length. That’s a lot of reading for the Lansdale fan.
JRL: All the stories in this one have been published, but some in not so well known places. Also, over a long period of time. There is a new introduction and story notes.
WCR: The word is that you are writing a new horror novella for Subterranean Press, which will be published late this fall. Can you give us any hints on the story’s theme and how long it will be?
JRL: Nope. I’m writing a Western novella, not horror.
WCR: You visited Italy last year and just got back from Germany a few weeks ago. Any idea as to why you’re a #1 bestselling author in those two countries? I know the Italians love you and your Hap/Leonard series. (Uh, Leonard is poking me in the back with his finger. I don’t know if he’s out of vanilla cookies, or if he wants me to ask Joe something)
JRL: I wish I had an answer, but I don’t. I’m often asked the question, but I couldn’t tell you. I’m happy for it, though.
WCR: Okay, I’ll ask him. It’s rumored that you already have another Hap/Leonard novel written called Blue to the Bone. True or not? If so, when can the fans to these two rowdy boys hope to see publication? If the book series does end up on television and is successful, do you think you might want to write more novels with these two kids? Ow! I mean fun, loving guys.
JRL: Blue To The Bone remains unfinished for a number of reasons. I plan to write other books about them one way or another, but a television series would certainly be a nice spur.
WCR: How is your movie (and I mean YOUR MOVIE), Christmas With the Dead doing? Has the reception of it been positive? When can your many fans hope to see it on DVD and will there be any extras, you know, like Kasey running around in that short Santa Claus outfit? Hap made me ask that question!
JRL: It’s not really my movie. It’s based on my story and along with my wife I’m one of the producers. Terrill Lee Lankford is the director and my son Keith wrote the screenplay. It’s independent, which is a way of saying low budget, but it’s a lot of odd fun. We are working on having it out there soon.
WCR: What does the future hold for Joe Lansdale? Will you be doing another film project anytime soon? Will you be taking investors? I have five dollars.
JRL: I have other film projects that others are planning to do of my work, but I’m considering one myself where it would be MY film. That is in the mill, however, and we’ll see if it comes to pass.
Many thanks to Hisownself, the great Joe R. Lansdale. Uh, okay, okay. Leonard wants me to add that at no time was the interviewer ever physically threatened. Verbally, however, is something else.