"... NOSTALGIA, PARANOIA, AND A CERTAIN SIMPLICITY OF IDEA: AN INTERVIEW WITH JOE R. LANSDALE
This month Joe R. Lansdale takes us back in several ways this month. In his novella, Shooting Star, he creates and late show alien invaders tale with a group of people on the run in the wilderness in the early twentieth century when a flying saucer crashes into their train. In The Drive In: The Multiplex an anthology edited by Christopher Golden and Brian Mead, over twenty writers play in the three book universe he started in the eighties where a weird comet cuts a Texas drive in away from the known world. Joe was kind enough to take some time an talk about both projects.
SCOTT MONTGOMERY: Shooting Star is a tip of the hat to the alien invasion movies of the fifties. What did you dig about that subgenre?
JOE R. LANSDALE: I grew up on it, so it, along with comics and fiction of that era and the early sixties, had a big impact on me. I saw most of those on TV, and they were a few years old when I did. I saw others at the movies, usually the Cozy Theater in Gladewater, Texas. I remember seeing INVADERS FROM MARS as a child and being really creeped and thrilled at the same time. It dealt with the body snatcher idea before Jack Finney wrote the classic novel that two great films were made from. My favorite is the black and white one, but the second, which was in the seventies, was also impactful. The original Thing, though I love the Carpenter remake as well. These all imprinted heavily. I'm sure it helps if readers are familiar with them. I just knew I had to take a crack at it. I've done other things in that vein,
but this one was directly that.
S.M.: What are three of your favorite movies from that genre?
J.R.L.: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE THING, INVADERS FROM MARS, though only the first twenty minutes is truly good, DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and FORBIDDEN PLANET. There are others, though. LIKE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, though it was in the sixties, but felt like a fifties movie. These are the ones that stand out at the moment.
S.M.: What unique spin did you want to put on it?
J.R.L.: I thought in the early 1900s would add a bit of something unique, but I mainly wanted to write something that felt like the old movies and moved quickly and had a feeling of nostalgia, paranoia, and a certain simplicity of idea.
S.M.: The anthology The Drive In:The Multiplex also came out. What's it like watching others play in your sandbox?
J.R.L.: It's interesting. I thought everyone brought their A game. I had a special feeling for David Schow's story, but there was so many good ones. Owen King, who is one of my favorites, Stephen Graham Jones, who I've loved for years, and the ladies came with their own Blood Corn. It was fantastic. I also had fun writing a story with my son, Keith.
S.M>: How did you come up with it?
J.R.L.: I just thought about what was going on inside the inside, so to speak, and Keith and I threw the ball back and forth till the game was done. We wanted it surreal, but in its own weird way, like the Drive In novels, it makes a kind of sense and leaves with a feeling of mystery in the air. Or at last we hope it does.
S.M.: What do you think it is about the world of The Orbit that grabbed so many readers who became writers?
J.R.L: Freewheeling. I think it opened up a lot of possibilities for readers and writers. I can't tell you how many times people have read my work, especially The Drive-in, and said, "Wait. You can do that?" I think it opened possibilities for a lot of writers, maybe showed rules could be broken.