1. Oh, hi Mark…do people ever quote this movie to you and say ‘Oh, Hi Mark’ or is this the first time?
Very first time. You may not want to speak to me after this, but I’d never heard of this movie until you sent me that link. Maybe it’s a poor YouTube upload, but it seems to have the same kind of production values as a porn flick, so that’s right up your alley.
2. It is the “Citizen Kane” of bad movies. Speaking of movies, you’re backlist is pretty cool from philosophy film books about Spike Lee and Noir to even crime fiction. Did all the philosophy books influence you as a fiction writer and what is your favorite Spike Lee Movie?
There’s not exactly a direct influence from philosophy straight to my fiction, at least in terms of philosophical ideas appearing in my books. However, philosophy trains you to be analytical, and gives you an enlarged understanding about human beings and the hard questions we face, so that background and that training is most definitely useful in writing fiction, from plotting out stories, working through problems, to understanding how characters might view the world.
I’d say my favorite is “25th Hour”, the one I wrote about in my book. It’s got a great cast, great performances, and Ed Norton’s soliloquy in front of the bathroom mirror gives me goosebumps.
3. Spike Lee is remaking my favorite movie “Oldboy” I am hoping he brings his A-Game and doesn’t treat this like “She’s Got to Have It”. Ok, back to your own work, I heard you read at KGB, I really dug it; you have a great way with dialogue. I know talented author’s who struggle with that craft of fiction, what is your advice for dialogue?
You know, dialogue has always been my strongest suit, right from the beginning. I still struggle with other elements of the craft, particularly with descriptions, setting the scene, character traits, things like that. But the dialogue I’ve always been good at, and I suspect it’s because over the years I developed my ear both in music and in my academic prose writing. Beginning writers (like beginning musicians, I suspect) can’t hear themselves. That’s why they make the mistakes they do (you should see the prose of some of my beginning students). So I tell them to read each sentence aloud to make sure it says exactly what they want it to say and exactly in the way they want to say it. So I think if you develop your ear for your prose generally—once you learn to hear yourself—that will help the dialogue.
Of course it also helps a great deal just to listen to how people talk. I’ve been accused on many occasions of being an introvert, of being quiet. That’s because of a natural kind of shyness, but it’s also because I like to observe and listen. So that’s my second bit of advice—learn how to shut the fuck up once in a while and pay attention to what’s going on around you.
4. Word, same for me. On a non-literary subject, we have discussed on Twitter the hotness of my female postal worker. Do you think that now we are sexualizing female mail delivers like the porn plots of the 80s (delivering big packages) shows an equality of the sexes in the 21st century?
Yes, yes, I do. And it also proves the stereotype that men will lust after a hot woman no matter what she’s like or what she does for a living. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a postal worker, but a woman could be a sewer worker, an exterminator, or even a Tea Party Republican, and guys like us wouldn’t care, so long as she’s cute. (Actually, I might draw the line on the last one.)
5.I’d totally do a Tea Party Republican. I wrote a poem once to a Tea Party Republican that I would give it to her so good, she would have to enroll in Obamacare the next day. Proud of that poem. Alright enough about banging tea party chicks, who are some your favorite writers of today in noir and not noir right now?
Favorite contemporary noir writers: Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Walter Mosely, James Ellroy.
Favorite non-noir writers: Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth, Chuck Palahniuk.
6. Right on, some of my favs as well. You are a fellow writer/musician; we are a strange breed. You play the blues in a band and gig in NYC. What do you love about playing live music that you don’t get in writing prose (getting chicks is not a sufficient answer)?
*Not* a sufficient answer? I thought that was the only answer. Well, okay, if you want to play hypotheticals, then, I suppose what I love about it is, first, playing music with other musicians. When it goes well, you’re in sync, it’s a blast. It clicks. And then when you do it live in front of other people and you see them enjoying it, having a good time, and you get that response, it’s a great feeling. People are having fun, enjoying what you’re doing—there’s a natural rush and satisfaction that comes with that.
7. Yeah, playing live is pretty awesome and so are groupies. I love the blues, I heard a good definition of the blues as way of dealing with sexual and spiritual danger. Would say this is accurate or would you add more?
That’s not bad. It’s an outlook on the world that acknowledges in a direct way how difficult life is, but an outlook that carries hope with it. It’s not nihilistic at all. My situation sucks, but I’m a man (or a woman) with dignity. I can look forward to having a few drinks and getting laid.
8. My songs have that theme, I guess I’m punk blues. Alright back to movies. What was the best movie you saw in 2013?
It’s crazy, but I may not have been to the movies once this year. That’s very unlike me, and it’s not because there wasn’t anything I wanted to see. I’ve just been extremely busy with work and personal commitments, etc. I did manage to see the final episodes of “Breaking Bad”, if that helps.
9. Best show of the year. You know a lot about movies and psychology and philosophy that influence many films. So, I want to know do you think I have a shot of sleeping with the actress Lake Bell? You seem pretty smart, so do you have any tips?
I don’t know her, but I’d say you have an excellent chance. As far as tips go, I’d say stick with the basics. Regale her with stories of working in a porn store, talk to her about sharks attacking the White House, make her laugh. If that doesn’t work, then steal her dog and tell her the only way she’ll get the pooch back is if she goes to bed with you. That can’t miss.
10. I can’t, it’s against my code to harm animals, even for Lake Bell. Ok, last question, what are you working on now?
I’m revising a novel I wrote a few years ago. It’s another suspense story. It’s about a guy who uncovers an assassination plot against his brother, who’s the Mayor of New York and is running for President. Sounds like a political thriller, but it’s not really. It’s just my own brand of noirish suspense.
Oh, what a story Mark. You must be the expert…sorry had to end with a “Room” quote. Thank you Mark for answering ’10 Questions With Christoph’. Keep Noiring it up.
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