Thursday, June 18, 2009

Anthony Neil Smith

Anthony Neil Smith is the editor of Plots With Guns and the author of Pyschosomatic, The Drummer, Yellow Medicine, and Hogdoggin'.

From his Q & A with Jedidiah Ayres:

What about crime or noir then? Was that always what you were going to write?

Oh yeah. I was hooked by The Hardy Boys in second grade before moving on the superior Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators Series. Plus, I really loved the covers and titles of all the adult crime fiction in the library. I just liked the idea of detectives, of solving crimes. Of course eventually I didn't care so much about the solving any more and just wanted to read about bad people doing terrible things, but with reasons.

I tried writing other things along the way--comedy, teen angst, Christian fiction when I was a holy roller, but it always came back to crime and noir. The "lightbulb" moment was picking up James Ellroy's WHITE JAZZ in the store, reading a few pages, and then picking my jaw off the floor. I thought "I didn't know you could write crime fiction like this". So that was the moment I also realized that instead of just studying Literature, I needed to find some Creative Writing classes.

Even in grad school, I would sometimes toss a crime story into workshop just to see what would happen (and I tried to write them so they weren't obviously genre stories). Eventually, at my dissertation defense, my professor Frederick Barthelme told me not to worry about the literary vs. genre debate. He said I obviously cared about the crime genre, and so I should go after what I liked. And I did. Maybe that'll change one day, but for now I just write the types of stories I would most want to read. And studying literary fiction and craft definitely helped me think about more interesting ways of going about it.

Is it an issue for you still? Is there a level of literary respect/credibility that you want to acheive?

Ha! I want...[read on]
Visit Anthony Neil Smith's website and MySpace page.

"My Book, The Movie" -- Pyschosomatic.

The Page 69 Test: Yellow Medicine.

The Page 69 Test: Hogdoggin’.

--Marshal Zeringue