The Pain of Living: MysteryPeople Q&A with Todd Robinson

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

In Todd Robinson’s Rough Trade, his bouncer heroes Boo and Junior investigate a murder involving the Irish mob, relationships, and sexual hang-ups. Last month asked Todd a few questions about the novel.

MysteryPeople Scott: Rough Trade deals with homosexuality and homophobia in a unique way. What did you want to explore about the subject?

Todd Robinson: It wasn’t a particular exploration about sexuality for me so much as taking a look at the characters, and who they are, and some of their warts. Homophobia worked thematically for the exploration of that sensibility and sensitivity. It also gave me a fresh way to look at identity and fears and for me, a fun new way to craft a mystery around people’s ignorances, prejudices, and preconceived notions.

MPS: The book is definitely not politically correct. Could you convey what you wanted if it wasn’t?

TR: Probably. But I’M not politically correct. And to tell this story sensitively for those with more delicate constitutions—fuck that, and fuck them. Characters…no, people in general, are no less good-hearted because they swear, or don’t put on airs. The people who’ve been in my life, whose essences imbue the characters I write are straightforward, brutally honest, and have a hell of a lot more sense of right and wrong and the pain of living than anybody in a fucking penthouse signing off on sub-prime loans, or sheltered housewives reading stories about delicious cupcake murders. My characters are true to their environment and to the world that I’ve lived in. If people want to call it “politically incorrect,” then they can clutch their pearls and crawl back to their suburban McMansions while feasting sumptuously on a big ol’ bag of dicks.

MPS: What do you think would have happened to Boo and Junior if they hadn’t met? 

TR: Bad shit. The people we meet and are the closest to are the ones who help us shape who we are. Boo & Junior are very much a part of who the other has become—and I want to follow their journey as they continue to grow. If you think about the people you’ve been friends with the longest, think about how they’ve shaped who you are. It’s important to me that I try to keep these relationships true to life. And life changes people as they go along.

MPS: Both of your novels deal with life of bar employees. What did you want to get across about the folks who work in that industry?

TR: Meh. Again, it’s the world I know, and the characters and situations that I bastardize for my own fictional benefit. I’m still working 60 hours a week in bars to pay for my writing “habit.” Still cheaper than meth, as far as habits go.

You can find copies of Rough Trade on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

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