Sunday, November 15, 2009
ROGUE MALES: SUBJECT #3, JAMES ELLROY
(Author’s note: Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life, is a collection of author interviews. It includes Pete Dexter, Alistair MacLeod, Daniel Woodrell, Elmore Leonard and James Crumley. Rogue Males also features an account of a trip to the desert to interview crime fiction greats Ken Bruen and James Sallis about the craft of writing. During the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a little background about each writer featured in Rogue Males.)
The author interview odyssey began in earnest with James Ellroy in Spring 2001.
For that interview, I made a road trip to Ann Arbor, MI where Ellroy was going to be reading at Shaman Drum Bookshop. We met in the lobby of the Bell Tower Hotel for an hour’s discussion that is recorded in my first interview book, Art in the Blood. The rawness and candor of that interview is closer in tone to other interviews contained in Rogue Males.
At the time, Ellroy was literally touring the world in support of The Cold Six Thousand, the sequel to American Tabloid and the second installment in his Underworld USA Trilogy.
Rogue Males contains two subsequent interviews I conducted with James Ellroy. The first of these was keyed to the release of Destination: Morgue!, his second collection of articles composed for GQ. The second interview anticipated the release of Brian DePalma’s adaptation of Ellroy’s breakout novel, The Black Dahlia.
Ellroy asserted in that second interview it was one of the last in which he would address his personal life, his mother’s murder, or The Black Dahlia murder case.
At this writing, Ellroy is contributing a series of articles for Playboy Magazine.
This fall will at last bring the final entry in his Underworld USA Trilogy with the release of Blood’s A Rover.
Ellroy has said Rover’s release marks the end of the “second phase” of his fiction-writing career.
James Ellroy interview excerpt: “I’m a sixteen-book writer and I’ve got four signature books: The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, American Tabloid and My Dark Places. That’s pretty great. It’s my first signature book. It may be my signature book. It is the last gasp of my pure unconsciousness as a writer. I mean I just wrote that book on instinct — and no lack of skill, certainly. But that book is my heart. That book, and My Dark Places, that’s my heart. American Tabloid, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz…Cold Six Thousand, especially, that’s my intellect. It’s just an uncommonly obsessive book. It’s an uncommonly obsessive book about a certain kind of unvarnished maleness.”
NEXT UP: CRAIG HOLDEN