Yesterday we posted Part 1 of my interview with Richard Lange, author of the short story collection Dead Boys. Onward with Part 2:
BGB: In a recent essay for the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King wrote that the American Short story is “ailing” and “apt to deteriorate in the years ahead.” He lay much of the blame for the situation as he perceives it at the feet of MFA workshops and other programs designed to teach people to write. As the author of what the San Francisco Chronicle called “one of the best short story collections of the past 50 years,” what do you make of this “controversy”?
RL: A lot of short stories are pretty boring. Hell, a lot of all writing is pretty boring. I don’t know if this stems from the MFA workshops or not. All I know is that it’s rare that I find a story that excites me, that has real energy in the language. What I’m looking for is electrifying flesh-and-blood stuff that makes me sit up and go, “Holy shit! Here’s someone who’s ready to throw down.”
BGB: Your education was in film. Does your background in film have an influence on your writing style? Do you have any plans to adapt any of the Dead Boys stories or other works to the screen?
RL: I was a film production major in college but quickly learned that the workaday side of filmmaking wasn’t for me. It’s more like engineering than dreaming. However, my screenwriting classes introduced me to the concepts of structure and pacing and started me thinking about how to manipulate them – technical stuff that was invaluable in my fiction
Producers were sniffing around “Dead Boys” for a while, but they sniff around everything. Movies have influenced my writing as much as literature – in fact, I probably know more about movies than I do about books — so I would love to be involved in a film project. In addition, screenplays pay way better than novels.
BGB: What can you tell us about your upcoming novel?
RL: It’s a crime book set in Los Angeles and Twenty-Nine Palms. I’m getting close to finishing it, three or four chapters away. It took a little longer than I thought it would to write it because I had to jigger with my style a little, open it up. I love it, and I hope my publisher does too. Otherwise, it’s back to a day job.
Many thanks to Richard Lange for taking the time to chat with us. Check out the book if you haven’t already done so.