Conversations with the Bookless: Stephen Blackmoore

You can read the full introduction to the series here. In short The Conversations with the Bookless series is designed to raise the profile of and increase the exposure of some of the emerging writers we knew were out there.

In the final installment of this years series we talk to Stephen Blackmoore.

After the jump check out the full interview.

Where are you, right now, as you’re writing these answers?

My office at home in Los Angeles at a desk covered in papers, books, the occasional glass of scotch. Now that I look at this place it’s a mess. I need to clean up in here. And, man, I really need to wash these glasses.

Who are your influences and what is your unlikeliest influence?

That’s kind of a tough one. Everything?

There are some things in particular that I like to play with in my writing. Shock, horror, banter, poetry. Humanity at its most base. The things people do out of desperation, or because they just don’t know any better.

So it’s an odd mix of movies, books, real life. A lot of real life, actually. The Los Angeles Times supplies me with more horror stories than I know what to do with. Guys getting lit on fire in a crowd in broad daylight and everybody’s too scared to do anything, kids taking cellphone pictures of a classmate who’s just been gunned down in a drive-by.

But I think I’ve pulled a little bit from everything I’ve ever read or watched. I think we all do to some extent. Everything from Stephen King and EE Cummings to Pablo Neruda and Penthouse Letters. Banter movies where the dialog zips back and forth like a ping pong match; The Lion In Winter, His Girl Friday. Lots of film noir.

Most unlikely? It’s a tossup between Alice In Wonderland and The 1969 U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook.

Seriously. One showed me that you don’t necessarily have to play by anybody else’s rules. The other made me realize that we spend a lot of time figuring out creative ways to kill each other. I got hold of both of them when I was a kid and they’ve left a mark. Still have my copies.

Why do you write?

Because I’m a narcissist who loves the sound of my own voice? I don’t know. Every time I think I’ve got my finger on why, it never sounds quite right. To entertain, pass the time, make people think. None of those, all of them.

I don’t think I’m trying to add anything special to the world, or trying to write Great Lit’ratchure. And I’m sure as hell not making any money at it. I just like doing it. And hopefully people like reading it.

What issues or ideas about fiction have been foremost in your mind of late?

I think a lot about dichotomies. Things that don’t quite fit together. Things we don’t expect to find. The pedophile priest, the thug who helps old ladies across the road because it’s the right thing to do, and kills people for the same reason.

Can an act of murder be a redemption? Can you find beauty in brutality or poetry in torture? Or the other way around? The world exists in shades of gray where the choices aren’t so simple. I’ve been playing around with that.

When did you start writing and what prompted you to do so?

Six years old. With stick figure Zorro comics. My grandmother would bring home these huge rolls of thermal fax paper that I’d draw these spastic Zorro stories on. Always ended in Zorro killing all the soldiers and swinging away on his whip.

Mercifully, none of these exist today.

As to why, sheer boredom. As a kid there were only so many staircases and roofs I could throw myself off of trying to fly. After a while the contusions get to be a bit much, even for a six-year-old. Writing was safer.

What do you most value in the fiction you love?

Voice. Voice will grab me faster than anything else. I like stories that blur the line between prose and poetry. That play like lyrics more than sentences. One of the things I like about hardboiled patter. Or any good dialog. I want to hear it flow.

How would you describe your style?

Sparse. Fragmentary. Pronoun challenged.

I write for voice first and foremost. If I can’t find a voice I like for a story it doesn’t go anywhere. I can’t even get to a plot unless I’ve got a voice to start it with.

I also tend to underwrite. Which can be infuriating in edits. I’m fine cutting stuff. It’s adding lines that really screw me up. I can pretty confidently say that I will never write a 1500 page epic anything.

I prefer writing just enough to get across what’s happening so the reader can fill in the rest. Hate having everything spelled out. I like it when an author treats me like I’m intelligent enough to figure it out on my own. I hope I’m doing the same.

How do you plan to rectify your booklessness?

Keep writing.

Right now I’ve got one novel making the rounds titled City of The Lost. Urban Fantasy. Which still surprises me. I keep thinking of it as a noir novel that just happens to have zombies in it. It’s got everything. Violence, brutality, psycho Nazi midgets. The works. You know, wholesome family fun.

It’s gotten some interest, but no bites, yet.

I think the best thing I can do is to keep getting short stories out there, continue working on the current novel. Get read.

What are you working on now?

A few things. A follow up to City of The Lost called Dead Things. Just finished a horror/comedy short story called “World’s Greatest Dad” for an anthology that comes out sometime next year. A bunch of shorts in varying degrees of completion.

Poking around with a couple other novel ideas that are straight crime fiction. And a comic set in the early 1900’s that’s been grabbing more of my attention, lately. Another psycho midget. With a straight razor and an ether habit. Street whores, Son-of-Sam type talking dogs, William Randolph Hearst. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.

Where can readers check out some of your work?

In print I’ve got a story titled “Like That Japanese Chick What Broke Up Van Halen” in the anthology “Uncage Me” by Jen Jordan through Bleak House Books.

But mostly you can find my stuff on the web. I write a Los Angeles true crime blog called L.A. Noir. I’ve got stories or poetry in Spinetingler, Plots With Guns, Thrilling Detective, Clean Sheets, and a few places that have, sadly, gone away, like Demolition and Flashing In The Gutters. I have links to most of them over on L.A. Noir.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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About Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

2 Replies to “Conversations with the Bookless: Stephen Blackmoore”

  1. As stylist, you’re brave as hell and I always look forward to reading your stories when they come out. I can’t wait to read CITY OF THE LOST.