G’day there. I hope you enjoy this interview with Robert Dean. Next up is Gary Buller. If you wish to answer these questions, simply copy and paste them from the ‘Interview questions’ page but please read the instructions carefully. Thanks for reading.
TGR: Where did your love of reading and writing come from?
I’ve been obsessed with books as long as I can remember. When all of my friends went through the “books are wack. Let’s play video games” phase, I stuck with books. I fucking hate video games.
When I was young I set the school record for how many book reports I could do. I was a little dude reading Stephen King books in the 3rdgrade. At first, they were super freaked out, but then once they realized this little-ass kid was tackling these monster books like “IT” or “The Dark Half” They just rolled with it – after a long talk with my mom.
TGR: What are some of the books/writers that had an impact on you and inspired you to write?
It’s a healthy mix of genres and styles. Charles Bukowski taught me you could strip everything down. Elmore Leonard showed me it could pack a punch and be simple. I love Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, and Stephen King. I was rocked by In Cold Blood and The End of Alice, while Last Exit to Brooklyn stayed with me for weeks. I love William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Baudelaire.
My biggest influence is still Quentin Tarantino, despite you know, not writing books. Pulp Fiction changed my life.
TGR: What does a typical day look like for you?
I write for a living. So, Every day is pretty much the same:
· Get up with my kids @ 7:30AM and do the breakfast and cartoons thing
· 10:00AM –3:00PM write for the day job (Yes, I know my hours are awesome.)
· Be a dad and husband for a while – have dinner and get my kids to bed by 7PM. Maybe watch a movie with my wife. It depends on workload
· After a quick nap I hit my office around 8/9 PM and write till 2 or 3AM
TGR: How much research do you do before you begin writing?
Short stories, I just write them organically. I never plot shit. It all happens by the hand. As for my books, my first book, In The Arms of Nightmares, I was so green; I plotted a lot and tried to maintain super wack outlines.
With The Red Seven, I outlined way more and it was a lot easier because in between books, I’d grown immensely as a writer and planner. I developed a system that’s become my signature style of getting shit accomplished:
I collect a shit load of notes. I write down little thoughts, riffs, ideas down on my phone in my notes. I get mad pages together and then when my body is ready, I’ll sit down and start from point A looking over my notes and building a plot. All the while, I’ve been reading and watching documentaries, or just watching movies all within the similar universe that I’m going to write to. That’s where a lot of the notes come from, too.
TGR: What genres are you comfortable writing in and is there any other(s) you would like to write in?
So far, I’ve written horror, a western, a memoir, tons of essays, and a crime thriller. I’ll pretty write anything that’s interesting or pays the rent. And believe, I’ve written plenty of shit as a copywriter to pay the rent. Alas, I don’t see Romance, Sci-Fi or Fantasy in my future. Mainly, cuz I don’t like that stuff.
TGR: What is the most important aspect of your writing? Is it character, plot, tone, or something else?
I’m proud of my dialogue. I think I can get folks talking and get them to have distinct voices. My other thing is style. I have my own way of forming thoughts and how scenes play out. I try to write scenes like I was explaining a movie instead of beating folks over the head with thick literary nuance. I love all that, but I ain’t how I go about it.
TGR: What writing lessons have you learnt from you first publication to your most recent?
You’re gonna get rejected. A lot. No matter how bad ass you are. They’re gonna say no. You haven’t won shit. Until you’re pulling that Best Seller or at least perennial seller cash, that tall green – you ain’t safe from a rejection. Building up the chops is just as important as building up a thick skin.
TGR: I’m a big fan of ambiguity in stories. Particularly with short stories, I like to be made to think about the story and its meaning long after I have finished reading. What are your thoughts on ambiguous stories? Is ambiguity something you incorporate into your stories?
Kinda? I don’t really think about that. I just write whatever comes to mind when it’s a short story. I know you don’t have to give away the farm in terms of backstory, but that’s it.
Lately, though, I definitely have laid off character’s descriptions. I don’t feel the need to spell out what someone looks like. Every bad ass doesn’t have to be a white guy in a suit – let people make the character’s look up in their minds. Empower the imagination and let people create their internal hero instead of me spelling out what someone’s race is or at least implied. That count?
TGR: Social media is a tool for getting yourself noticed. Do you think it is easier or more difficult these days to get your work noticed? Why?
It’s difficult to cut through the noise. There are so many bad social media accounts just huffing their own fumes. You gotta be smart and work via strategy. Sure, you can catch lightning in a bottle once in a while and build a following outta nowhere, but for the rest of us, it takes work and most importantly – honesty. People smell a bullshitter from a mile away.
TGR: As a writer, what do you consider to be the do’s and don’ts of self-promotion?
Do: find your channel. You ain’t gonna own the airwaves of them all. Just because you kill on Instagram doesn’t mean you’ve got anything on Twitter. By all means, use every platform, but be smart enough to know which one is your strongest. Mine, by a moonshot, is Facebook.
Don’t: be an over-promoting asshole. We see you guy with 45K followers and 45K following. That’s noisy as fuck and immediately wack. Sorry, I ain’t following back and I don’t want to read your stupid fucking zombie book you put on blast like a commercial.
Do: be real. Again, you should worry about building a community, people who like your work and want to cheer for you. People want to root for someone they saw come up. Sure, the route to them sucks ass, but it’s important to keep that relationship healthy and honest.
I’ve been actively working on building a network like Shea Serrano has on Twitter, but via Facebook. I love Twitter and think it’s great, but my most effective platform is Facebook. I treat everyone who likes my page as a friend and I want to share their work and build a community vs. READ MY BLOG, CUNTS and then not post shit until the next time I need their numbers. That’s shitty.
TGR: Tell us about your work. What does your back catalogue consist of and what is your most recent release?
In The Arms of Nightmares
The Dear John Letter – Novella
The Red Seven
A million short stories in a cavalcade of anthologies. I was in 10 different ones in 2017. I’m head writer at Farce The Music, I’m a regular contributor to The Austin American Statesman, and Clash Media. I’m always chasing new places to get my essays and articles published. Basically, a few times a month, you can find me somewhere bitching about something humans are doing.
TGR: You’ve been invited to contribute a story to an anthology! If you could choose 5 other writers (living or deceased), who would they be and why?
- Elmore Leonard
- Hubert Selby Jr.
- Jim Thompson
- James Ellroy
- Cormac McCarthy
Your ass ends up in a book next to those names, you’re doing it right.
TGR: Your latest book is being turned into a movie! Well done you! Who stars in it and who directs it?
I’d chose the book I’m currently wrapping up edits on, A Hard Roll. It’s the story of a robbery during Mardi Gras and the world of the New Orleans black market. Don’t worry. I lived in New Orleans. It’s not some cheesy story with assholes in beads and masks. I wanted to get the city right.
- Michael K. Williams
- Idris Elba
- Walton Goggins
- Ruth Negga
- Mark Hamill – Seriously. I don’t think he gets enough of a shot as an actor
- Guy Ritchie – director (He needs to get back to crime flicks)
That’s all I can think of. I’m shitty at this.
TGR: What are you working on now (apart from these questions) and where can we
My first script, Marrowbone Holler is out being shopped to Hollywood/movie folks. Hopefully, someone buys it. I’d love to work less.
My next book A Hard Roll is ¾ through a long and arduous hacking session with my longtime editor, Jacob Knabb AKA the other half of my heartbeat. I am hoping to start shopping for an agent this spring. Fingers crossed, once again.
Wanna be Internet friends? Hit me up on Twitter: @Robert_Dean or Facebook/RobertDeansWorld
Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven was called “rich in vivid imagery, quirky characterizations, and no holds barred violence and mayhem. I never knew what the word romp really meant until now, but in case you’re wondering, this is it” by Shotgun Logic.
His essays have been featured in Jackson Free Press, Victoria Advocate, and is a regular contributor to The Austin American Statesman. He’s also been on NPR.
Robert is finishing a New Orleans-based crime thriller called A Hard Roll. He lives in Austin and likes ice cream and koalas.
Buy Robert’s books from here.