"BUT FRANKLY, I FELT I WAS PRETTY CONSISTENT.": AN INTERVIEW WITH THINGS GET UGLY'S JOE R LANSDALE
Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories Of Joe R. Lansdale is a collection that covers the author's over four decade career by looking at just one genre of his short fiction. Joe was kind enough to take some questions about the book, short fiction and his career.
SCOTT MONTGOMERY: These stories span over thirty years, how did you go about choosing the stories for it?
JOE R. LANSDALE: Actually, there were a few others that should have been here, but we wanted a tight powerful book. The other stories could have been crime stories, horror stories, or just unsettling stories. Also, some like NIGHT THEY MISSED THE HORROR SHOW have had a lot of play. If we do a horror volume or another crime volume it would be there, but I admit, I sort of regret not including it. It's my most famous story and one of my best. When I say we, I mean my editor, Rick Klaw, and I chose the stories. Some I insisted on, others he suggested, and we finally decided. It really wasn't hard.
S.M.: Did you notice an evolution in your writing as you put together your overview?
J.R.L.: Yes, and sometimes just a change in emphasis. I think I couldn't write some of those stories now, and then writer of then couldn't write some of the stories I'm writing now. But frankly, I felt I was
S.M.: What do you get to do in short crime fiction, you get less of an opportunity to do in long form?
J.R.L.: You can take all manner of angles. You can also take a good idea and write a story that has punch. A novel would drag out certain ideas, or become old hat soon. Bu a short story, it can go for broke,
be done, and over. I love short stories.
S.M.: Which three stories in the collection, sum you up the best?
J.R.L.:You know, that's impossible to answer. But I'll try. Another day the list might be different. Mr. Bear, Boys Will Be Boys and The Projectionist.
S.M.: The book has an introduction by S.A. Cosby. What do you admire about his writing?
J.R.L.: Directness and at the same time his work has an uncurrent. I think,like me, we mine our lives or the lives of people we knew or know.
S.M.: What are some short crime stories that stayed with you?
J.R.L.: I'm not really a big Cornell Woolrich fan, but I really liked one called "The Number is Up." "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Conner, and "the Killers" by Ernest Hemingway. I could come up with a lot more, so this is like the answer above. Depends on the day you ask. Way too many, really.