Friday, June 17, 2011

David Fulmer

David Fulmer is the author of, among other works, the acclaimed Storyville mysteries featuring Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr. The first volume of the series, Chasing the Devil's Tail, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Mystery/Thriller Book Prize and the winner of the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel.

From Fulmer's Q & A with Jesse Swords at Loose Change:

LC: Jass took a lot of guts to write. In setting the book in early 20th century New Orleans, you’re writing about subjects that a lot of others would like to stake their claim in: a city that’s not yours, and a music that everybody loves and feels a right to. You’re also writing across lines of race. Where did that courage come from?

Well, first of all, I was basically raised Italian. My mother is Italian, and like [Valentine, the main character in Jass] I’m half Sicilian. So I have that sort of identification. You know, when my mother was growing up, Italians were discriminated against. My father caused an incredible scandal in the family by marrying an Italian girl.

So, I was aware of that, but also, I was so interested in music. And the town I grew up in, there was one African American family, and the father was a jazz drummer. And the town was very ethnic…a lot of Italians, a lot of Polish. But I was always fascinated by the music. I was trying to get back to the root. And I think it’s just being open. It’s not being color-blind, because that would be stupid. But the thing is: to celebrate [our differences], and enjoy them, rather than pretend they’re not there. And what I found out was that unless you’re going to write about people who are exactly like you, and nothing else, you’re going to have to figure out a way to crawl into other people’s skins. The hardest one, harder than any race, is male and female. It’s really hard for men to crawl into women’s skin, and vice versa. It’s the hardest. And so I had to conquer that challenge as well.

But whatever it is, it really always came down to keeping my ears open. And people are afraid to talk about stuff. And I realized that we can look at the same thing, and not see the same thing sometimes. And so [I want] to be able to have that conversation, to understand that. Male and female is the biggest one: that you and I look at the same thing, but we see it a little bit differently. But basically it was that I felt that if you’re not taking a risk, then you’re not getting anywhere. And so I understood that it was a risk. I was really, really concerned. When you do what you just said—you go into their territory—oh my god, they are waiting for you with hatchets when you do historical stuff. So I was very concerned that I was going to get murdered. And especially jazz—I mean, it’s worshipped. And I was going right into the belly of the beast and writing about it. But the thing was, I had so much respect for it, and I think that comes through.

I don’t want to assume courage. It’s just that I really wanted to...[read on]
My Book, The Movie: David Fulmer's "Storyville" books.

--Marshal Zeringue