Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Interview with Eric Jerome Dickey

Eric Jerome Dickey. Three names that we all know and love. He was kind enough to take time from his current book tour ("Tempted by Trouble") to answer a few questions regarding his work.

First of all, you are one of my favorite authors, and certainly one of the most gifted writers of our time. You have really switched your game up. I think it’s fair to say that early in your writing career, you were kind of considered the “Male version of Terry McMillan.” You are so not that person. Your range is amazing. I loved, loved, loved “Tempted by Trouble.” I could have read it without putting it down. And, I love the way your books have become so “multi-cultural.” Is there a reason that you don’t tell the reader Dmytrk Knight’s nationality?

It never really mattered to me. It was about a man, his values and how his moral compass, due to desperation and encouragement from his wife, goes to the crossroads to meet with the devil.

Where did you learn so much about robbing banks? I was on the edge of my seat. Did you actually interview bank robbers as part of the research for this book?

I read a lot of noir. I watch a lot of noir. And there has always been many bank robberies across the US, many posted on YouTube and are also in all of the local papers.

I loved the way Dmytrk referred to and idolized his late father, Henrick. Did you draw from your own experiences with your father?

Nope. Made it up.

What does your writing process involve (i.e. do you get up early and write, write at night, use a computer or write long-hand) (yes, believe it or not, some writers still do write long-hand)? Do you set limits on yourself (I will write 50 pages today)?

No limits. It’s about quality over quantity. I’d rather have four tight pages over two days than 20 sloppy ones. I work a scene at a time, a chapter at a time. Writing a book is not a race. It’s a journey.

This book had so many twists and turns, moved so quickly and was so well written. Did you know where you were going to end up or were you on the ride just like Dmytryk?

I leave myself open to all possibilities; it's playing "what if?" from top to bottom. I've studied at UCLA and Cal Poly Pomona and with the IBWA/LA, so I see writing as a craft and I try to work it from that angle. Each book is a project. Never personal.

Do you think that the economic times we are facing and have faced the last few years could actually change people as much as it changed Dmytryk and Cora? Did you meet people who had been reduced to a life of crime due to their own life circumstances (loss of jobs, homes, etc.)

Anything is possible. I've seen news reports where a Caucasian single mother actually robbed a bank. Desperation has to modify us all. Simply watch the news. It's there. Crime is up and home robberies are up and jobs are down... reduced to crime? People do what they have to do to survive. It's more of a tragic circumstance, one that exists in every country that I've visited, and a bad economy only exasperates what's already in the mix because the haves lose what they have and end up standing shoulder to shoulder with the have nots. Poverty is nothing new. Nor is the art of survival.

Dmytryk was, of course, multilingual. How many languages do you speak?

English. Understand some Ebonics.

Please, please – will Dmytryk be back?

No idea.


1 comment:

Brooklyn said...

I can't wait to read this book. I am sooooooo excited about the evolution of the writing style of EJD. I get so intrigued by the changes in writing styles of Noir writers as life's experiences influence their art. Unlike many of my "advanced age" friends, I'm a bit more conservative than most EJD fans and have had a hard time getting past some of the "new age language" of his previous writings. But, I'm hearing such good things about this new book that I cannot wait to read. Thanks for sharing EJD's interview.