The Literary Chick Interviews Guitarist Barry Finnerty

The Literary Chick Interviews Guitarist Barry Finnerty

When were you first drawn to the guitar?
I think it was when I first saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
How old were you?
12
Did you have lessons?
I got a cheap classical guitar for my 13th birthday and took a few folk guitar lessons. Learned basic chords and stuff. But my friend came over who had just gotten a Fender Jazzmaster electric guitar and amp and after trying that I wanted one bad!
During your teen years, what guitar were you using?
In ’66 I got my first electric guitar in Hong Kong where my mom had gotten a Fulbright grant to teach English at Chinese University. It was a Fender Jaguar with a Deluxe Reverb amp. I joined my first rock ’n roll band that opened a show for Herman’s Hermits. Later, back in San Francisco, I got a Guild Starfire because I had seen Jerry Garcia playing one. Then I got a great old ’59 Gibson Les Paul, and as I got more serious about jazz I also got a beautiful ’60 blond Johnny Smith.
What guitar(s) do you use now?
I have been playing the Yamaha Image Custom since the early 90’s. Best electric guitar they ever made. I also have a Yamaha CPX-15 acoustic, Yamaha SA-2200 (like the Gibson 335) and a Japanese Fender Strat.
Whose music influenced you the most?
That’s a long list. As far as guitar playing, George Benson, Howard Roberts, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery in jazz, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton in rock, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Albert Collins in blues. Compositionally, I am influenced by the Beatles, Steely Dan, the Cream, Joe Sample, Randy Brecker, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Clare Fischer, John McLaughlin, Charlie Parker, Horace Silver, Tom Lehrer, Mose Allison…too many to name. Also I love classical composers like Beethoven, Rossini, Bartok, Stravinsky, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky.
What was it about that (or the) sounds that most struck you?
The most interesting thing about music is the part that cannot be put into words.
What are three of the most influential jazz guitar albums and why?
I can’t say which ones influenced other people, but for me, “It’s Uptown” by George Benson opened up my head to a lot of possibilities. One of the first jazz guitar albums I ever heard, “H.R. Is A Dirty Guitar Player” by Howard Roberts really knocked me out, he could play so funky and jazzy and melodic at the same time. There’s so many, but “The Dynamic Duo” with Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, and the Oliver Nelson big band with Grady Tate (recently deceased) on drums was a big influence… nobody could groove it like Wes.
Can you name some other musicians you've played/toured with?
Miles Davis of course, though unfortunately I never toured with him. In the 80’s I went all over the world with the Crusaders, who were very big internationally at the time. Also the Brecker Bros, Hubert Laws, Airto and Flora, Billy Cobham, Blood Sweat & Tears… And I have been going to Germany to play with my BBFC (Bad BF Collective) band now and then, great 7 piece band with 3 horns.
What were one or two of your more memorable playing experiences?

Playing with B.B. King and the Crusaders with the London Symphony Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall didn’t suck. I also got to share the stage with BB in Montreux back in 2004 or 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1X_nnVksUA

How did you parents feel about your lifestyle choice?
Always very supportive.
I know you've written a book about a jazz guitarist bored to death with playing tuxedo gigs and having been involved with truly rewarding musical work in the past. Was that based on you, or straight fiction? Tell us about the book.

WWIt’s what I call either a “semi-autobiographical novel” or a “fictionalized memoir”. It’s definitely me, but in scenarios that are mostly either totally made up or based on reality that is exaggerated, hopefully in a humorous manner. There are some accounts of stuff that actually did happen too.

Here’s the synopsis:
In New York City in the mid-1990’s, internationally known guitar player Barry Finnerty found himself in a very bad place. His glory days of the 70’s and 80’s, when he was recording with Miles Davis, flying first class around the world with the Crusaders, making legendary records such as “Heavy Metal Bebop” with the Brecker Bros, banging beautiful groupies and partying non-stop – all of that is a distant memory.

As he reminisces about the past and laments what might have been, he has no choice but to make a living as the rock singer in a high society tuxedo band, a job with no artistic satisfaction whatsoever, which he finds highly depressing to say the least. Self-medication with booze and cocaine is continuous, and he becomes so unhinged at one point that he actually believes he can escape his predicament by getting into a relationship with Yuvana Crump (the ex-wife of the notorious New York real estate tycoon Ronald Crump) because she smiles at him while he is onstage at a tuxedo gig at the Waldorf. When that brilliant idea doesn’t work out so well, he starts thinking that maybe becoming a stand-up comedian might be his way out.

The often hilarious narrative, told in the first person (from Barry’s own perspective) and in the present tense (except when recalling past memories), blurs the barriers between memoir and fiction. “There’s a lot of reality in it,” says Barry. “although many of the names have been changed to protect the guilty. And a lot of it sounds like it really could have happened… although most of it didn’t. But some of it did!”

I understand you're also doing stand-up comedy now. How did you get involved in that?
Well, I actually haven’t done any stand-up in quite a few years. But we are getting ready to produce a funny fake news show for today’s short attention span audience on YouTube: the Weasel News Network. Short clips, like 4-5 mins each. I got all the stuff set up, green screen, desk etc..
You've also written some guitar instruction books. Do you teach, do you like teaching?
I am on the adjunct faculty at CJC (California Jazz Conservatory) in Berkeley, but I don’t teach that much unless I can get really good students. I do most of my educating through my two “Serious Jazz” books published by Sher Music, and they are for all instruments, BTW.
Any recent gigs here or abroad? Any coming up?
In September, I just did a week in Japan with the Breckers Heavy Metal Bebop reunion band, then I had a couple gigs in Hong Kong with my old friend Ted Lo, a great piano player who lives there. I played the Silicon Valley Jazz Fest last weekend with my own band. A few club gigs coming up. And I got the Jazz Cruise out of Florida with Randy in February, hopefully some more coming next year.
Where can people find your cds and books?
My website if you want them signed. The books can be ordered from Amazon. Digital downloads from iTunes, etc.Barrybadbf@me.com5104598816

The Literary Chick Interviews Photographer Robert Butcher

The Literary Chick Interviews Photographer Robert Butcher

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1949, the City was still bombed out after the war and had a desolate feel about it, there seemed to be no color and everything was grey. We had won the war but lived on rations and black market goods. Life just seemed like one big shit hole with a large black cloud looming over it with strange family issues left over from the Victorian era. My education was geared towards industry either to be a steel worker or work down the coal mines. or some other mindless boring job. My school discouraged any form of creativity except for my English teacher who pushed my imagination. There was something missing in my life, everything was drab and how many fucking times can one listen to ‘How Much Is That Doggy In The Window’ by Doris Day and other BBC light music and realize something is missing in life? Radio Luxembourg changed my life and in 1957 I heard Elvis for the first time singing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and that was my epiphany from then on I wore my hair pushed back, started smoking cigarettes and eventually ran away to Hawaii only getting as far as Liverpool and walking the docks to find a ship that I could stow away on but the police found me and escorted me back to Sheffield.
What brought you from London to New York?
In 1964 my parents migrated to Perth in West Australia and that was a big cultural shock in my life. I didn’t fit in, my hair was long I was into different music and Australia at that time was in the grip of Surfing music but I was adopted by a much older crowd of university students that I became some sort of mascot for. I originally wanted to be a chef but in those days a culinary experience in Australia was steak and chips so I worked in a bakery and because it was a night job I had the freedom on weekends to be out all night and be free and get into all kinds of trouble. I had no parental discipline.
Where is home?
Before coming to NYC Sydney was my home, I lost my residency in Australia after staying away for more than three years. I love that City and my life goes on there without me. Now NYC is my home… I’ve tried to leave a few times but id draws me back time and time again. Once the grit of this City gets into ones blood it’s like heroin, hard to kick.
What sort of work do you specialize in?
I used to be a fashion editorial photographer but now I concentrate or at least try to on my own projects
Did you go to school to study photography?
I studied at the Twickenham College of Technology at nights while supporting myself working for Interarmco where they renovated Mauser’s and Browning 33s and other world war guns that they sold to waring factions of the world. They had no scruples so I made money on the side by stealing the old brass plates and brass cleaning cartridges and other metals that I sold to a scrap merchant. The place was like out of a Dickens era novel with everybody doffing their caps to the bosses, a subservient hierarchy that offended me..can I have some more meat sir…fuck that, so I had no guilt stealing from them. The college was good though and I learnt the mathematics of photography.
How did you get started in photography?
As I mentioned I started working in a bakery where I got into an industrial accident and paralyzed my right arm, at one point they thought that they would have to amputate it but I found a specialist that managed to save it. So being around 16 at the time with only one arm my father adapted a Minolta 35ml rangefinder camera with a harness and cable release that I could use with one arm I set out to look at the world. Being depressed and despondent about my condition I photographed abandoned buildings and discarded things on railway tracks. My Father who actually migrated to Australia to be a photographer was impressed with the images even though they were disturbing noticed that I cropped my images in the camera. He suggested that I go to London and study. Eventually my arm started healing and I went into the outback and work on a farm to save money to go back. If I got a job in the City I would have blown it on drink, drugs and girls so I went away like a monk on a mission and sent cheques home every month and every month my mother would send me 4 flagons of red wine and 4 packs of drum tobacco. That worked well when I had to plow at night with one spot light.
How would you describe your style?
I can’t but you can
Can you make anybody look beautiful?
Beauty is so subjective, everybody has an angle and an aspect of their personality that shines through
May of your shots seem to capture an aspect of the subject's personality. How do you see into people?
At one point in my young photography days I was a renegade / terrorist photographer shooting with intimidation which worked in that period of my life. Now it’s about trust and letting the person be themselves and let them be free to express themselves with out pressure, a little suggestion every now and again, I’m just a mirror now.
What type of equipment do you use?
I’m partial to Nikon F2s and Hasselblad’s but since I’ve lost all that gear I use a Nikon D300s which I fight with all the time. Actually my cat just knocked it off the table and broke it and snapped the mount on the lens. I could go back to a shoebox pinhole camera though and that would be fun for the type of work I’m doing now
Do you shoot in anything other than digital?
Film
What lighting do you take on a shoot? Or use in your studio?
I take one light. I was taught that all the different lighting conditions in the world has one light source, the sun, and when you think of all the ways that it illuminates the world say from the clean white light in Greece to the dark industrial light in the smokey gloomy manufacturing cities and the one to eight lighting in Australia one only needs one light and white and negative reflectors. There have been certain jobs where I have used huge setups though, Strobe Swimming pools with spots and fills but I try to simplify my work now
How important is Photoshop in your images?
It’s a tool…I use it as though I was in a dark room
Can you describe your photographic work flow?
Slow
What was one of your most memorable shoots?
My Midnight Oil & Rose Tattoo album covers, Playboy, Penthouse. one shoot where I closed down the City in Sydney where I was doing an apocalyptic shoot in foundations of a new building, I lit the whole area with distress flares that made it look like ground zero…of course I didn’t notify the authorities and all hell broke out, the airport was closed, cops and fire engines turned up and it all added flavor to the shoot… I was laughing the whole time it was fun and of course I was stoned.
What publications have your works appeared in?
Australian Vogue, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Mode, Mode for Brides, Details, NY Talk, All the Tattoo Magazines, New York Waste and a lot that I have forgotten

The Literary Chick Interviews Photographer Marcus Leatherdale

The Literary Chick Interviews Photographer Marcus Leatherdale

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Marcus Leatherdale.. or I used to be. It is all very surreal now that I am 65..an age I never thought I would live to. I was born in Montreal, Canada.
Where is home?

Home has always been a work in progress… We moved several times as a child in Montreal. I was usually the new kid in class. I have lived in Los Angeles… San Francisco… NYC… Banaras,India…Northern Ontario…Jharkhand, India… Lisbon, Portugal and now a quinta in central Portugal.

What sort of work do you specialize in?

I guess I am an Art Photographer..in that, that is what I have done most of my life ..However I also founded www.theOMENmag.com ..an online art magazine in which I am the editor.I also have been restoring real estate with my partner and will be starting up a design Company together in Mexico . It will be about textiles and home wears. Of course I will still be taking photographs in India and Mexico.

Did you go to school to study photography?

Yes ..I went to too many schools. I started at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montreal…then Los Angeles Art Center, San Francisco Art Institute and New York Art Institute.

How did you get started in photography?

The dean at Ecole des Beaux Arts was very keen on developing a film department..and introduced me to animation ..then film and then finally photography which sort of just stuck. I was a painting major but I gradually was seduced by photography.Also my father was a hobby photographer and had a makeshift darkroom under the basement stairs.He showed me the basics.

How would you describe your style?

My Style …no idea? In my India work ..I strive to be as traditional and as uncomplicated as possible…no tricky Photo Shop stuff….nothing digital. I am considered a Vintage Photographer in regard to my 80s NYC work…and a Traditional Timeless photographer with my India work….So I am a schizophrenic artist it seems these day.

Many of your shots seem to capture an emotion. How do you achieve that?

If there is no emotion in a portrait …then the image is dead. There has to be emotion in Art. Somehow I just channel the emotions.

What type of equipment do you use?
I still use only analog negative film and my trusty Hasselblad… No digital.
What lighting do you take on a shoot? Or use in your studio?

When I photographed in my NYC studio..i used a Monolite bounced strobe system. In India I only rely on morning Daylight 8-11 AM.

What was one of your most memorable shoots?

All my shoots are memorable…Whether I am shooting Andy Warhol or an Adivasi tribal…it is all about that moment. they are all pearls strung on the necklace.

How does it feel to be behind the camera yourself?

Behind or in front?.. I was a Fashion and Art model at first..so that was helpful in understanding how to make subjects relax in front of the camera.Behind the camera I feel invisible..

Which photographers inspire you?

Painters inspired me mostly….Caravaggio, Modigliani, Schiele. However Irving Penn and August Sanders were brilliant.

What books are on your nightstand now?

“Avenue of Mysteries” and “Son of the Circus” I am having a John Irving fest.

What was your favorite book as a child?
Hans Christian Anderson
If you could include a book on a high school syllabus, which would it be?
“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
What was your favorite film? Director?

I have seen 1000s of films ..but what always floats to the top is “Cabaret”. I love Guillermo del Toro as a director ..such brilliant visuals.

Who would you most like to work with?
No one really …I usually work alone..that is why I never explored video/film ..too many cooks.
What time periods would you most like to shoot in?
Paris and Raj India…in the 1920-30s
Do you have any shows coming up?

I have no current one man shows..however I am in two major group exhibits

  • “Club 57 Exhibit” at MOMA opening Oct. 31, 2017- April1. 2018
    It is a projection installation of 35 portraits of “Urban Women”..
  • 9 photographs in “Crossing Houston” an Asian traveling Museum show,
  • Nov. 2017- Page Gallery – Seoul, Korea
  • Feb. 2018 – Giao Space Museum – Shanghai,China
  • April 2018 – CAFA Museum – Beijing,China
You can also find out more about Marcus Leatherdale by visiting his site
Photo by by Jonathan Daniel Pryce

The Literary Chick Interviews Curt Weiss a.k.a., Lewis King

The Literary Chick Interviews Curt Weiss a.k.a., Lewis King

What books are on your night stand right now?
Richard Boch’s “The Mudd Club,” and Nick Hornby’s “Funny Girl.”
Your biography of Jerry Nolan seems incredibly thorough—can you tell us something about the process for researching this book?

I tried to speak to everybody that had anything to do with him as well as get my hands on anything written about him. I started just e-mailing people I knew that knew him, like all the Rockats, a band Jerry and I both spent time in, Lesley Vinson, a friend who dated him for a bit, and a few others. Then there were people I had to do some internet sleuthing to find for interviews, like author Nina Antonia, and the late Leee Black Childers, who I hadn’t spoken to in over 20 years. Through the web I was surprised to get responses from Billy Squier and Suzi Quatro. I also searched out his mom and various other girlfriends, plus a number of people already mentioned hooked me up with phone numbers and email addresses of loads of other friends, band mates, and girlfriends. It was off to the races at that point.
I also used libraries, the web and services like rocksbackpages.com to find old articles. Nina, and other writers like Doug Simmons from the Village Voice and Andy Schwartz from the NY Rocker either sent me old articles or discussed whatever they remembered from interviewing him.

I slowly began transcribing the interviews and stringing them together into an oral history, and then filling in the empty portions with archival material. That formed the raw material I wrote the book from.
I also listened to everything I could get my hands on that Jerry had played on, including bootlegs and guest spots with other artists. I also contacted people in unrecorded bands that he’d played with. They were able to tell me what it was like to play and travel with him.

I took a trip to Stockholm and dove through 3 storage units owned by his ex-wife. I spoke a number of times with his biological son, who despite never meeting Jerry, shared many affectations as well as likes and dislikes. I contacted his old school district in Lawton, Oklahoma for photos. I contacted the Veterans’ Administration for information on where his step father was based in Hawaii and Oklahoma. I even poured through old phone books in the NY public library to find out where he lived and when.

And what was it like to dive so intimately into someone else’s life?
It becomes an obsession. I felt like the stalker of a dead person. I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. Like most writers, we’d prefer to work alone, but you need the cooperation of others to get what you need. So, I had to learn to cold call and to “pitch.” You get lots of “no”s. I still hate it, but in actuality, I made some great friends through that process. Ironically, although I like to work alone, I cherish the friendships I made throughout the process. That was one of the most satisfying aspects of it all.
Without spoilers, what's your favorite Jerry Nolan story that we'll get to read in Stranded In The Jungle?
Most of my faves were those poignant moments of vulnerability that tore through the cloak of “cool” that he tried to hide behind. But a funny story came to me via the late Joy Ryder, who put out a record with Avis Davis in the late ’70s called “No More Nukes!” Jerry played with them at a Rock against Racism gig in Ohio. After a day of finding him drums, and a fix, they all sat down for a relaxing cigarette at the end of the night. Jerry had one question for Avis:
“What’s a mook?” Avis was confused and asked him to clarify. Jerry said, “You know, that song of yours ‘No More Mooks!’ What’s a ‘mook?” Avis just found a way to delicately change the subject.
What were some of Jerry Nolan's musical influences and why do you think they made an impression on him?
Besides the earliest rock and roll like Elvis, Frankie Lymon, and Gene Vincent, without a doubt, Jazz legend Gene Krupa was number one for him. Gene transcended drumming. He, probably more than anyone, brought drums to the forefront in popular music. He had his own style, both in look, and sound. And he was an original. Jerry aspired to all those things.
Tell us about your favorite New York story from the late 70's, either that happened to you or by an author who got it right.
The stories about Connie Gripp, Arthur Kane’s girlfriend, and then Dee Dee Ramone’s girlfriend. She was so unhinged and the stories are legendary; trying to cut off Arthur’s thumb; stabbing Dee Dee in the ass; the fights she’d get into with whomever her boyfriend cheated on her with, or dated after trying to dump her; her use of blackberry brandy to tempt Arthur or heroin to tempt Dee Dee. What a team of psychotic screwballs.
What was the last great book you read?
I loved Bob Mehr’s book on the Replacements, “Trouble Boys.” He did his homework, and really did a great job of transmitting to the reader the essence of the band and each individual member. Plus, I was finishing up my book at the time, and I just marveled at each of his sentences. There’s a certain flow and economy to the prose that I admired. It wasn’t pompous or saccharine, but you felt the pathos as well as the humor when reading it. There just didn’t seem to be many wasted words or phrases.
Which book genres are you drawn to?
I’ve always been a bio and non-fiction fan. I’m interested in history and I like real stories about real people. It’s why I like documentaries as well as drama based reality films: the Godfather series, Goodfellas, American Hustle. But I also enjoyed Phillip Roth & Joseph Heller growing up. And Hunter Thompson’s two road books: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and Las Vegas.
What were your favorite books as a child?
As far as I’m concerned “Harry The Dirty Dog” can’t be beat.
You're organizing a literary gathering. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
I think a panel discussion on writing biographies would be interesting. I’d have Bob Mehr, Holly George-Warren (“A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton”), and maybe Clinton Heylin (“Behind the Shades: Bob Dylan). It would be to compare notes…and laugh.
Now you're organizing a private concert. Which artists/bands do you invite?
The original NY Dolls, James Brown and the Famous Flames, and the Beatles. Might as well go for the best.
Whom would you want to write your life story?
That’s too scary to even consider. I think the list of people I DON’T want is easier to develop.
What do you plan to read next?
I have Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” and “M Train” at the ready.
Do you have any readings or events coming up? Where? When?

It’s all on my website curtweiss.com under the “events” link:

 

  • 10/18/17, 6P @ The Girl Can’t Help It , 3806 Grim Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
  • 10/19/17, 7P @ Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069
  • 10/23/17, 7P @ Books Inc. , 1491 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
  • 10/25/17, 6P @ Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117
  • 10/28/17, 7P @ Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
  • 11/5/17, 4:30P @ Som Records, 1843 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • 11/6/17, 7P @ Brewery ARS (in partnership w/Sit & Spin Records), 1927-29 W Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145
  • 11/9/17, 7P @ The Delancey, 168 Delancey St. New York, NY 10002
  • 11/10/17, 7P @ Iris Records, 114 Brunswick Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302
  • 11/11/17, 3P @ Tres Gatos Books, 470 Centre St. Jamaica Plain (Boston), MA 02130
  • 11/12/17, 2:15P @ Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery & More, 541 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
  • 11/16/17, 7:30P @ Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214

The Literary Chick Interviews Chris Desjardins a.k.a., Chris D., Author/Musician/Cinephile

The Literary Chick Interviews Chris Desjardins a.k.a., Chris D., Author/Musician/Cinephile

What books are on your night stand right now?
All non-fiction and just occasionally dipping into them: “My Last Sigh” by Luis Bunuel, “The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews with Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films,” “Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic” by John ‘Drumbo’ French, “Midnight Surprise” which is, I believe, a still unpublished manuscript by a variety of Japanese film critics on the movies of Japanese director Tai Kato. Also I refer often to “The American Cinema,” a book on film directors by Andrew Sarris (someone who was enormously influential on me as far as writing on film – I’ve gone off him a bit as I find a number of his criticisms to be needlessly mean-spirited + he NEVER went back to update this book, which he had plenty of time to do – he just died a couple of years ago) – this book now, at times, seems dated, and it ends before the boom of great 1970s films. I believe it came out in 1968.
What was the last great book you read?
“The Long Day Wanes” by Anthony Burgess (though I think the novel’s ending is needlessly mean-spirited); before then “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy, “Already Dead” and “Tree of Smoke” by Denis Johnson, “Small g” by Patricia Highsmith. The non-fiction “Methland – The Death and Life of An American Small Town” by Nick Reding.
What's your favorite book (s) that no one else has heard of?
Too many to mention, but almost anything by David Goodis (especially “Down There” aka “Shoot the Piano Player), Jim Thompson’s “The Nothing Man” and “Savage Night”, James M. Cain’s “Past All Dishonor”, anything by Italian writer Leonardo Sciasia, any of Georges Simenon’s roman noirs (especially “Belle,” “Red Lights” & “The Blue Room”), J.G. Ballard’s “The Drought” and “The Drowned World” + his short story collection “The Voices of Time”, Giuseppe Lampedusa’s “The Leopard”, Giovanni Verga’s “The She Wolf and Other Stories”, “The Orange Eats Creeps” by Grace Kilanovich, “Uncle Silas” by J. Sheridan LeFanu, any of the collections of ghost stories by M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, William Burrough’s “The Cat Inside”, Donna Lethal’s “Milk of Amnesia”, Peter Orr’s “Stay Out of New Orleans” (Pete writing under the name P. Curran), the non-fiction “Methland – The Death and Life of an American Small Town” by Nick Reding, “Beneath the Underdog” an autobio by Charlie Mingus, “Germinal” by Emile Zola, “The Possessed” (aka “The Demons”) by Dostoyevsky, “Les Chants de Maldoror” by Lautreamont, “The Monk” by Matthew Lewis, “Tess of the D’Urbevilles” by Thomas Hardy…once again too many to mention…
What were your favorite books as a child?
“Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, nearly everything by Edgar Allan Poe, sci-fi by Andre Norton then later in high-school Philip K. Dick & J.G. Ballard. I think I was starting to get into Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain by middle of high school.
At what age did you begin writing?
11 or 12 maybe?
What book-to-movie do you felt succeeded the best?
PLAY IT AS IT LAYS w/ Tuesday Weld (from Joan Didion’s book), the original END OF THE AFFAIR w/ Deborah Kerr (from Graham Greene’s book), THE GRIFTERS directed by Stephen Frears (from Jim Thompson), AFTER DARK, MY SWEET directed by James Foley (from Jim Thompson), THE MOON IN THE GUTTER directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix (from David Goodis), THE END OF THE ROAD with Stacey Keach and co-scripted by Terry Southern (from the book by John Barth, who hated the film), ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES with Lino Ventura, directed by Francesco Rossi (from Leonardo Sciasia’s book, “Equal Danger”), KWAIDAN directed by Masaki Kobayashi (from Lafcadio Hearn’s book), THE CONFORMIST directed by Bertolucci (from Alberto Moravia’s book), BELLE DE JOUR dir. Bunuel (from Joseph Kessel’s book), THE LONE WOLF & CUB film series dir. by Kenji Misumi and others (from the Kazuo Koike manga), THE HEART OF THE MATTER w/ Trevor Howard (from Graham Greene’s book), OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS dir Carol Reed (from Joseph Conrad’s book), CONTEMPT by Godard (from Alberto Moravia’s “A Ghost at Noon”), the original GET CARTER dir. by Mike Hodges w/ Michael Caine (from Ted Lewis’ “Jack’s Return Home”), ROSEMARY’S BABY dir. Roman Polanski (from Ira Levin), THE LEOPARD by Visconti (from Giuseppe Lampedusa’s novel), JESUS’ SON dir. Alison Maclean (from Denis Johnson), the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS dir. Don Siegel (and better than Jack Finney’s book), SAINT JACK w/ Ben Gazzara (from Paul Theroux), THE WOMAN CHASER dir. Robinson Devor (from Charles Willerford book), COCKFIGHTER dir. Monte Hellman (from Charles Willeford), THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE from George V. Higgins’ book (there are others I cannot think of at the moment.)
What books, if any, about the California music scene do you feel got it right?
Depends on the era, but if you’re referring to punk rock circa 1977–1982, the book I have a chapter in, “Under the Big Black Sun” by John Doe, Tom DeSavia & Friends, comes pretty close.
You're organizing a literary gathering. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
That’s hard because I’d count in stuff like being able to get along with them, them not having any ‘attitude’, as well as for their literary achievements. For instance, I’d like to include Patricia Highsmith, but probably wouldn’t as she was very difficult. I guess many writers are difficult. Also they’d have to speak English, which would omit a lot of them (LOL – I’m serious). Maybe Joan Didion, Terry Southern & Graham Greene.
Now you're organizing a private concert. Which artists/bands do you invite?
Not sure, but probably jazz guys, such as Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus
Whom would you want to write your life story?
Can’t think of a single writer who I’d trust (besides myself)
What do you plan to read next?
Nothing in the near future. Too emotionally fucked-up at the moment.
Do you have any readings or events coming up? Where? When?
Nothing in the near future. Maybe a slight chance of an event with music & film writer Joe Carducci (his latest is a film book called “Stone Male”) in November in Los Angeles; possibly a couple of events in mid-to-late January 2018 preceding the 8 city reunion tour (on the west coast) of my band, The Flesh Eaters. I’m presently working on a compilation of my previously written articles and essays, plus new writings, on international noir/neo-noir from the mid-1930s through today (though most films mentioned will probably fall between 1945 – 1990). That book will probably not be finished for another couple of years as I’m still trying to catch up watching at least 100 movies (almost all foreign) I’ve never seen before (although I now have DVD-Rs of most of them.) So nothing new for a couple more years.
Where can people buy your books?
Amazon is the best place. There’s a Chris D. author page on there (although their search engine sucks, so you may come up with a lot of other people more famous with the name Chris whose last name begins with a D.) You can also search under Chris Desjardins if Chris D. doesn’t hit right off the bat. People can also go to my public Facebook page, Books by Chris D., as I occasionally have Direct-from-the-Author sales on there (though it’s been a while).

The Literary Chick Interviews P. Curran, Author of the (Accidental) Stay Out Of New Orleans Trilogy

The Literary Chick Interviews P. Curran, Author of the (Accidental) Stay Out Of New Orleans Trilogy

What books are on your nighttable now?
  • The Riverside Shakespeare
  • The Best Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield
  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
What book struck you dumb? Or turned the excitement on in your head and pen?
Struck me dumb as in “made me stop writing”? Can’t think of one. Books that turn on the excitement in my head weren’t so important to how I write. I learned to write carefully by rewriting people who didn’t.
Who/what are your favorite strange writers/stories?

Hard to pick a favorite Robert Aickman story, but let’s say “Growing Boys.” Peter Straub called it “uncharacteristic.” I disagree.

Also hard to choose one Avram Davidson story. “Now Let Us Sleep” is his Hamlet (profound content), “Negra Sum” his MacBeth (sublime form).

Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, “Carmilla”
William Faulkner “The Leg”

Was there anything that you've experienced in New Orleans that made you want to update the genre to there?
The fact that I didn’t need to.
You have a trilogy, how do they connect? Tell us something about your Stay Out of New Orleans Trilogy.
It is a trilogy by accident rather than design. I wrote Stay Out of New Orleans between 1993 and 1999, The Breathtaking Christa P between 1997 and 2001, and Naught But a Shadow between 2001 and 2005. Then came the flood. Afterward, the books transformed into a time capsule, especially since they take place in the early, middle, and late decade, respectively. The first book combines hyperreal crime with the strange story, the second book is just the crime element (it’s actually a Jim Thompson parody), and the final book is just strange. Certain locations recur between all three, and a number of characters from Stay Out turn up in Naught. The most unifying factor is that revelations in one book will affect how you view events in the others. Most obviously (though how obvious can it be if I have to point it out?), the protagonist in Naughtfeatures in a Stay Out story that reveals a traumatic experience he never mentions in Naught (although both he and another character allude to it).
What were your favorite books as a child?
  • No Flying in the House
  • The Martian Chronicles
  • Tales of Poe (don’t remember the exact title)
  • The Lottery
What were your favorite books as a teen in Breezy Point?
  • Still The Lottery
  • Any Robert Bloch
  • Richard Matheson’s Shock series
    I was also the first Stephen King fan any of my Science Fiction Club friends ever heard of.
If you could have a dinner party - what three writers would you want there? And please don't take dinner party literally, you know what I mean.
Twain, Poe, Shakespeare
If you could place one book on a high school curriculum, what would it be?
The Real Frank Zappa Book
What is the greatest book you've ever read?
Blood Meridian or I, Claudius
Do you give books as gifts? And if so, how do you choose the book to give?
Yes. I choose them intuitively, based upon careful knowledge of the person’s personality and interests, so I’m pretty much always wrong. Sometimes someone else comes over their house and says, “That looks like an interesting book” and the person goes, “Here, take it. It was a gift from that Peter guy.”
What was the best book you've ever received as a gift?
Tough question. Books about horror films from an adult friend of the family, most likely. A French woman recently gave me a nice book of photos of James Joyce with his family. She included a note that said in French: You deride him for dragging his family into squalor, but he dresses nicer than you do.
How do you organize your books?
Never.

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