Elaine Ash aka Anonymous-9, author of Hard Bite and the forthcoming
Bite Harder was kind enough to indulge me with a few questions and answers.
Hard Bite was enjoyed back in late 2012.
The 1st Short Story Collection (unread as yet) preceded the novel
and Just So You Know I'm Not Dead - 3 short stories was read earlier
this month and triggered the invitation to Anonymous-9 to answer a few
questions on her writing and reading.
Hard Bite review
Just So You Know I'm Not Dead review
Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby? What’s the day job?
No matter if I'm getting paid big bucks for advertising writing or little bucks for fiction writing (although those bucks just took a jump), it's all writing all the time.
What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?
It happened yesterday. I'm researching my DREAMING DEEP novelette commissioned by Uncanny Books and I landed an interview with a seasoned tugboat captain down at the Port of Long Beach which is a high security place. The Los Angeles area is a notoriously difficult place to land interviews. There are so many writers competing for information, and with paparazzi crawling everywhere there's not a lot of trust. Suffice it to say in my experience landing interviews is rare and tough. But yesterday, my work preceded me. I breezed through checkpoints and clearances, people knew who I was and had read about me in advance, I was welcomed onto a high tech boat, I even got to sit in the captain's chair in the wheelhouse! Being able to do the research for my book unimpeded was the most satisfying moment so far.
From start to finish how long did Hard Bite and Bite Harder take from conception to completion?
Hmmm. HARD BITE started as a short story in 2008 and the novel manuscript was turned in to Blasted Heath in 2011. So that was three or four years. It felt like a decade. BITE HARDER took about a year, maybe a little more. I wrote 100,000 words and threw out 52,000 before I was done.
No spoilers (and I haven’t yet read Bite Harder), is there scope for a 3rd Sid the Monkey novel?
Yes, and it's in the outline stage. Allan Guthrie says I should call it THE LAST BITE and if I have another book after that I can call it THE SECOND LAST BITE. Ha.
What’s your typical writing schedule?
I mess around at home putting writing hours in around everyday life until I hit a snag. Then I head for the desert and an empty condo that a Canadian pal keeps in Palm Springs. Once there, I put in 15, 16 hours per day. I allow myself out once per day in the car to eat at a restaurant and twice to go out for a walk or exercise. Other than that, I'm in a chair writing. My body often aches and I sleep on the couch so I can get up and jot stuff down in the middle of the night. I have no phone, no internet, no friends there, and I write everything in longhand, no typing or revising. The desert is all about tapping the imagination. It allows for deep concentration on the characters until the story becomes more real than the cloistered life I'm engaged in. I'll do that for 5 days at a time and then come home.
Do you insert family, friends and colleagues into your characters? Would they recognise themselves?
No. Although I'm always accused of that and find it rather arrogant on the part of the accuser.
Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?
No subject handled right should ever be off limits. Political correctness is a strait jacket writers need to shred and then burn in a dumpster.
What are the last three books you’ve read?
MOBY DICK by Herman Melville, HAMMERHEAD RANCH MOTEL by Tim Dorsey and THE LONG MIDNIGHT OF BARNEY THOMSON by Douglas Lindsay.
Who do you read and enjoy?
Chandler, Cain, Jim Thompson, I'm always seeking noir and if it has a funny, ironic edge so much the better.
Do you have any literary heroes?
Horror master H. P. Lovecraft surfaces again and again in my life to feed me. I'm so moved that he died sick and penniless, writing stories that then swept the world. His legacy provides livings for thousands of writers connected to his work including me.
Is there any one book you wish you had written?
THE GRIFTERS by Jim Thompson is so emotionally complex with that chilling mother-son relationship. Anything by James M. Cain.
Favourite activity when not working?
I take an hour a day to exercise and listen to music and lectures on my iPod. I enjoy range shooting, guns, Las Vegas for everything except gambling, Texas, Brit Grit as coined by Paul Brazill and furthered by Keith Nixon.
What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?
See the answer on the tugboat research.
If I check back in a couple of year’s time, where do you hope to be with the writing?
I'll have a movie deal and HARD BITE will be in production. That's what happened for Douglas Lindsay (also published by Blasted Heath) and I hope it will happen for me. The HARD BITE series will still be going strong. The DREAMING DEEP series will be selling hand over fist for Uncanny Books. My newest and as yet unpublished series called CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS about a down-on-his-luck musician will have taken off (the first novelette is finished), and I'll be able to live modestly on the proceeds of my stories. If that sounds ambitious, I believe in dreaming!
Thanks again to Elaine-Anon-9. Bite Harder is out in September, published by Blasted Heath. The Blasted Heath website is here.