MysteryPeople Q&A with Joe Lansdale

Joe Lansdale

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.

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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.

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Joe Lansdale will be at BookPeople tonight with daughter Kasey Landsale to talk about & sign both books. Both The Thicket and Impossible Monsters are available in store or online via BookPeople.com.

Those Things That Go Bump in the Night

Authors both famed and obscure, all writing at the top of their game, have invented a rogue gallery of monsters in Impossible Monsters, a new collection of short work. Each creature proves as unique as its creator.

Editor Kasey Lansdale (appearing here with her dad, Joe Lansdale, Thursday, September 12) knows how to kick it off by giving us a tale from balls-to-the-wall writer David J. Schow in which two border patrol officers in “Blue Amber” deal with a different kind of alien. The story is full of action and gross out moments. However, this works due to the way Schow has gotten us to know and care for these people in a short span of time.

We then go old school horror with Neil Gaiman’s “Click-Clack The Rattlebag”, a story that could soon be considered a classic. Skillfully crafted, it delivers a tone of dread, then builds on it with the knowledge that something horrible will happen, but with no exact idea what it will be. When it does come, you’re shocked.

The stories range in moods and styles. Anne Perry provides a classic Gothic tale set in the 1800s. Charlaine Harris gives us a fun werewolf romp with a dark comic twist. Both show a thin line between monsters and humans.

Many of the monsters are rooted in reality. Chet William’s “Detrius” plays on a common phobia and drives it to cringe worthy heights with an ironic laugh at the end. Tim Bryant’s “Doll’s Eyes” takes its cue from the plant world with creepy results. Bradley Denton uses disease for a moody family tale, “Blood Moccasins”. Selina Rose’s “Nathan” is a creature that may or may not exist in a poor soul’s psychology.

We also get two stories within stories. Al Sarrantonio crosses the private eye genre with a cabin in the woods yarn, “Orange Lake”. Joe Lansdale finishes off the collection with “The Case Of The Angry Traveller”, featuring  his supernormal investigator Dana Roberts, The story is pure pulp pleasure.

Also included are a weird Texas tale by Neal Barrett, Jr. and a story with a Lovecraftian touch by Cody Goodfellow. All this is a great way to read some of you favorites while getting introduced to some names you might not know. Not one story even approaches cliche and yet they all play to the age old concept of how scary that thing that bumps around in the dark can be.
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Editor Kasey Lansdale will sign copies of Impossible Monsters here at BookPeople Thursday, September 12 at 7pm. She’ll also perform a few songs for us. Her dad, Joe Lansdale, will be on hand with his new novel, The Thicket.