If you’re a Joe Lansdale fan, then this is the month for you. His newest novel, The Thicket, is out now. And, for as added bonus, he wrote a story in the wonderful anthology of weird tales edited by his daughter, Kasey Lansdale, Impossible Monsters. We’ve been talking about them a lot this week on the blog because we’re excited to have both Joe and Kasey at BookPeople tonight to speak about and sign their new books. We caught up with Joe to ask him a few questions.
MYSTERYPEOPLE: The Thicket is a western, but you chose a unique time period. The book is set at the turn of the last century in East Texas. What interested you about that era?
JOE LANSDALE: That period of transition has always fascinated me. My grandmother straddled both centuries and was a bit of both. The modern age, at least then, came in pieces, and sometimes it took years for those pieces to come together. Technology was for them just as dreaded and appreciated as it is now. We love it, we fear it. But the country was, as now, going through huge defining changes.
MP: What was fun about going back to that genre?
JL: I love that genre. I was once asked to make a list of favorite books, and was surprised how many westerns were on it.
MP: In the book, the main character Jack has some curious allies: a circus dwarf, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave, and a prostitute. They’re outcasts like many of the characters you write. What’s the appeal to outcasts?
JL: Misfits are the interesting people. Its that simple. And, surprisingly, a lot of people think of themselves as misfits.
MP: It takes skill to write a period piece. What would you say is the most important thing to remember when writing in set period of time?
JL: You should know the era and feel the voice. But, mostly, you are there to tell a good story.
MP: Many of your protagonists are teenagers. Do you find that challenging as writer or do you enjoy it?
JL: Everyone has been young so they understand how life can surprise in good and bad ways. We can all relate to those moments, because we have all been through it.
MP: You have a story in Impossible Monsters, an anthology edited by your daughter, Kasey. Did she keep you on task?
JL: She was pretty much a nag, actually, but it was fun.