from issue #1: ‘An Interview with James Crumley’

ALWAYS LOOKIN’ FOR A BOOK, LOOKIN’ FOR A TITLE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES CRUMLEY

Noel King

Missoula, Montana
21st September 2005

KING: Could you say something while I check the sound level is OK and I’m getting it clearly?

CRUMLEY: It’s September 21st, the last day of summer in Missoula, Montana, and I can see the snow in the future!

KING: Your latest book, The Right Madness (2005), takes its title from a Richard Hugo poem, “The Right Madness on Skye,” and a much earlier book, The Last Good Kiss (1978) took its title from some lines in another Hugo poem, “Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg.”

CRUMLEY: I get all my good titles from Hugo poems.

KING: Was there any particular reason for you to return to Hugo poetry references after thirty-some years?

CRUMLEY: The Right Madness is a book I started back in 1975, somewhere back in there, and I was looking for a title. You know, I’m always lookin’ for a book, lookin’ for a title. And I was goin’ through my Hugo collection and somehow that last stanza of “The Right Madness on Skye,” where the poet plays dead, somehow that stanza and the idea that in my book the shrink was going to play dead, got the book going for me. I started the book so long ago that I was still playin’ Flag football instead of softball! I always think it’s a kind of homage to use somebody’s line of poetry or a line from a book as a title. I already had my own voice when I met Dick, because I had half of my first novel done, but I’m sure that the way he handled language and his approach to poetry influenced my approach somewhat. You can’t deny influences. And I love “Skye.”

KING: Did you make a research trip to Scotland for this novel?

CRUMLEY: No. I went to see Dick on Skye when The Wrong Case (1975) came out, and I went back seventeen years later, after Dick was dead, just to go. I didn’t know then that I was going to write this book. I never know when I’m going to write a book! Skye is just one of those places that helps you understand why some of the Celtic twilight myths are like they are. Some of that shit makes you think about magic. So long as you don’t have to believe in it, I guess it’s OK.

KING: Hugo says he started his mystery novel, Death and the Good Life, on Skye, so that’s a nice overlap.

In the prefatory section for The Right Madness you explain that you had a heart operation while writing the book, and thank medical staff, your wife Martha, and other friends for helping you come through it. How far into the novel were you when you had the heart operation?

CRUMLEY: I was about half way through and Martha was out of town, away at a conference. I was mostly layin’ around the house, watching TV and reading. I hadn’t been out much, hadn’t been carousing, and I noticed when I was taking a shower that I was suddenly short of breath. And getting in the car turned out to be a job. I got to the airport to collect Martha and as I was walking back to the car I told her something was wrong. She told me I should go to the doctor immediately, so I went the next day, a Monday, and I guess it was another week and I went into hospital. They couldn’t get the fluid out of my system. My heart and lungs were completely full of fluid and by the time I did go to the hospital the CO2 in my blood was like 70%, which is supposed to drive you insane. There was this wonderful charge nurse in the ER who said, well Mr Crumley, I might have to put you on a ventilator. And I said, what if I don’t want to be on a ventilator? And she said, well, in two or three hours you’re gonna turn blue, and two or three days later you’ll be dead. So I said, OK! It was kind of an unsatisfactory experience because they never found out what really happened. And also, this whole notion of cutting a hole in my heart sheath to let the fluid drip out struck me as silly. In hospital, the nurses are the ones who keep you alive. The hardest part was getting over the paralytics they give you to keep you still when you’re getting the ventilator put in. Those paralytics are tremendously raucous drugs, and they gave me some of the wildest hallucinations I’ve ever had. But a lot of people stood up and helped me at that time, took care of things, because we were on benefit money for about eight months or so.

KING: With The Right Madness you moved from Mysterious Press to Viking. What kind of deal is it?

CRUMLEY: It’s just a couple book deal.

KING: You have your two successful, much-loved characters, Milo and Sughrue, in their separate series, and together in Bordersnakes. How do you know if you are into a Milo or a Sughrue book?

CRUMLEY: I pretty much let the book decide, whichever voice comes up. The Final Country had to be a Milo book. I wanted Milo to go to Texas. And this one, The Right Madness, was always a Sughrue book, I don’t know why. It’s not always clear cut, it usually takes me 100 pages to figure out what the hell’s going on and whether I’m going to finish a book.

KING: Can you provide some time-line information here? The Crumley fan buys a book in 2001, The Final Country, which derives from a much earlier time. You once referred to The Muddy Fork as ‘the endless Texas book I never finished’. How long had The Final Country, been gestating, bumping around in there?

CRUMLEY: A long time! But this process goes way back. At one time The Last Good Kiss was a Milo book, the go-back-to-Texas book. At that time I wanted out of my teaching job and my agent said, ‘this book is more movieable than any of your others.’ And so it became a Sughrue book.

KING: I gather in part that has to do with ownership of the character once a book is sold to Hollywood. You mentioned that you have now given the movie option on The Last Good Kiss to a young person.

CRUMLEY: It’s with this kid, Justin, who worked for Jerry Bruckheimer for years, doing all this stuff, like running a hockey tournament. His father was a student up here, and he gave him a copy of The Last Good Kiss, and by using Bruckheimer’s name Justin was able to get into the files at Warner’s, which not even my agent could get into! And he found out that the rights to The Last Good Kiss had reverted to me in 1998 or 1999. And he said, ‘Let me flog this around, see what I can do.’ So I gave it to him for a dollar. I guess it was two and one-half years later he found someone who said he was tired of seeing John Woo movies, and said this looked like a movie movie. It just seemed like a better chance for it to be made into a movie instead of a piece of Hollywood shit.

KING: You’ve had a lot of dealings with Hollywood over the years, ranging from stalled adaptations of your own books—I’m thinking of the myriad detours of Dancing Bear which saw it go from Tim Hunter to eventually wind up with Robert Towne—and you have also written screenplays. What opinions have you formed about Hollywood after these many years of contact?

CRUMLEY: If you back up into a room in Hollywood with your britches down and something odd happens to you, it’s not their fault!

KING: That’s a nice modification on Raymond Chandler’s comment that one should always wear one’s second best suit in Hollywood. You’ve moved it along to not wearing any trousers!

CRUMLEY: I don’t know how to live in a world where there are people who will sign contracts and then say, ‘I didn’t mean that at all.’ I signed a contract with a guy to do a script from a book I really liked, Yellowfish, about smuggling Chinese. The contract had gone between lawyers and agents and been signed and suddenly, not only does this guy not call me but his office phone has been disconnected. Using some of my less reputable friends I discovered where the guy is. He’s staying with somebody out in Malibu and I called the number and he happened to pick up. And I said, ‘look dipshit, I don’t mind you lying to me, I’m a writer, writers lie all the time, but you also lied to my agent and he’s my friend. So if you don’t call him up this afternoon and apologise I’m going to be on the next plane to LA and break your goddamn legs.’ And he believed me! So he called up my agent and apologised. So that part’s right, it’s fixed up.

Six years later I meet the guy in a bar at Chateau Marmont and he acts like we’re old buddies. So I have to take him aside and say, ‘remember I’m the guy who said he would break your legs, I might have killed you. You have to remember that I meant that and I still mean that, so you’d better get away from me.’ Greed is an ugly emotion. I can’t believe there are people who are like that. They do it all the time in Hollywood. I’ve gotten so I won’t eat with them any more. Every dinner meeting is the same. First you talk about how radical you were in the 60s. Then you get to the part where the cake and coffee are gone and then you talk about the deal. I won’t do any of that. I won’t take breakfast, I won’t take lunch, I won’t take dinner. Do it in the office. It’s a business, and if the chances are good, your lawyer ought to be there too.

KING: Montana now has a fair number of film people living in it, full-time or on a regular basis. I think Wim Wenders shot some of Don’t Come Knocking (2005) in Montana.

CRUMLEY: There’s enough crew in Montana to mount a $25 million movie in a weekend, with just a Montana crew. But I think people who live in Montana live here because they’re attracted to this kind of life, not that kind of life. Jim Cottsdale lives down in Hamilton and Jake Eberts, who produced A River Runs Through It, still lives in Livingston. A long time ago somebody said, everything in America would be better if it weren’t centred in one place. Publishing would be better if it weren’t all in New York, automobile manufacturing would be better if it were all over the country, instead of only in Detroit. I think that’s fair. At least in Montana when you start whining about the movie business you can usually find someone to commiserate with you.

KING: You were mentioning the book tour for The Right Madness. What cities did that involve?

CRUMLEY: It was two nights in San Francisco, and one night in LA, mostly in traffic jams, thirty-six hours in Mississippi, Phoenix, Arizona when it was 109 degrees, and Denver and Boulder in Colorado.

KING: Do you like doing book tours?

CRUMLEY: Nobody likes doing them, you just do them. I took my wife Martha along. We had a good time, we got to eat well, and saw old friends. The last night, in Denver, we sort of wandered into a restaurant in the street down from our hotel, and ran into an old friend of mine who makes low budget movies. So we had a nice meal, a $100 bottle of wine, the waiter joined us! He wanted to be a stand-up comic. That part of it is always fun. It’s just that I’m too old for this stuff. I was always too old.

KING: ‘You were born old,’ as they say of Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life.

CRUMLEY: I was born with a moustache.

KING: Last time we spoke you mentioned that you had enjoyed a book tour of England, going to London and Manchester and other cities. You didn’t tour England with this book?

CRUMLEY: When I went last time I split the expenses with the publisher. It was mostly just an excuse to go to England. Whoever did The Final Country in England, this time Harper Collins beat them by a thousand per cent, so I figured it was time to move on.

KING: When we last talked we mentioned the French documentary made on you, and the publication of a corrected French translation of The Last Good Kiss, which fixed up an earlier version called The Drunken Dog.

CRUMLEY: That first translation was so bad that a ‘topless bar’ became a ‘bar without a roof.’

KING: What other languages are you translated into? Have you been translated into German?

CRUMLEY: They’re not too interested in me. The only time I’ve been in an overseas best-seller list was when The Last Good Kiss was retranslated and published in Italy. It had a pink cover with a broad in a bikini on the front and it was number 5 on the list of best-selling translated novels. The Right Madness is coming out in Italian.

KING: In part I was asking because we now have presses like Europa, Bitter Lemon, Serpent’s Tail, Harvill, all busily translating into English crime fiction from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, South America and so on. I was wondering about movement the other way.

CRUMLEY: Most of my books are in Greek, and in Finnish.

KING: Maybe Aki Kaurismaki or his brother Mika will film one of your books!

CRUMLEY: One of the great sculptures in Montana is by a Finn, a guy named Rudy Autio, from Butte, who Peter Voulkes and the other guy found in the brickyards. So he goes to Finland quite often, and he does things like tiled walls for Japanese people who send over a 747 to pick the stuff up; they truck it to Spokane.

KING: You have mentioned that you enjoy the play with literary language as a crucial part of delivering your crime fictions.

CRUMLEY: If the language isn’t any fun, there’s no sense in writing the book. Stories come and stories go, but good language lasts forever.

KING: You have also said you enjoy working playful and flamboyant dialogue into some of your screenwriting work.

CRUMLEY: I have two favourite lines in this last movie I worked on. “I’d rather suck a wino’s sock than eat a lizard,” and “I’d sure hate killing you but I wouldn’t mind blowing your toes off.” I could have had a lot more fun like that if the producer and director had left me alone. They were just idiots. It was a rich girl wantin’ to make a movie for her friends, it was a dead deal from the start.

KING: I see you have continued to blurb some book that you like or some books by people you like. I enjoyed what you said about Daniel Woodrell’s Woe To Live On – “Woodrell knows wonderful and funny and degenerate things that speak to the best of the human soul in the worst of circumstances.”

CRUMLEY: I figure that when someone does you a nice favour when you are a kid, you don’t owe them back the favour, you owe it to the next kid who comes along. So I take time over those things. The last book I blurbed was a book about a soldier in Baghdad, a memoir about a kid who kept getting deployed, and  deployed. It’s called The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell, and it’s a book with no bullshit about it, no heroics, just about doin’ the job, and the true toll that George Bush Jr’s little fuckin’ misadventure is costing our kids. This last book I blurbed came about because my editor has an editor friend at the same conglomerate, I think it’s Riverhead Press, and so it came in the mail, and I was overpowered by it. When I really like a book I take some time and try to come up with something right, I try to figure out what the essence of the book is and then I try to say something that means something.

KING: So how do Scott Phillips, Craig Holden and Daniel Woodrell come to be blurbed by you?

CRUMLEY: I’ve known Scott for a long time…

KING: Not like you knew Craig Holden, who says he used to mow your lawn.

CRUMLEY: Craig was a graduate student here. He used to house-sit for me. His first book was really terrific.

KING: The River Sorrow. I thought it was really good, and I didn’t understand why Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan, also a very good book which became a good Sam Raimi film, would be so readily adapted by Hollywood and The River Sorrow ignored. At that time I think Hollywood was trying not to depict drugs explicitly in its films so maybe The River Sorrow fell by the wayside for that reason. It was around that time that Bright Lights, Big City was adapted and it had problems with working out how to depict cocaine addiction in a restrained, acceptable manner. But you blurbed Craig’s next book, The Last Sanctuary.

CRUMLEY: About the religious people. I didn’t think anybody else understood that book. Again, I thought it was a terrific book. It’s not work to blurb terrific books. But mostly, my blurbing, it’s just accidental stuff. I’m not sure how I came to blurb Pelecanos, maybe it was because his editor was trying to get him to have a cross-over book. George is one of my favourite people and I just love those books of his. I got to interview George in the Bahamas once, and I liked what he said about Shoedog. It was written to be the kind of book a working man could put in his pocket and read in his lunch hour. He has all the great titles. Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go! George is a terrific guy and I just love those books, all that information about music and cars! I’m the kind of pinhead who likes the cytology chapter of Moby Dick, I like information. So I’ve been reading George steadily since I first discovered him. Maybe it was Dennis (McMillan) who put me on to him.

KING: Well, Pelecanos returned the blurb favour with a beautiful, and true, description of The Final Country. How did you and Scott Phillips come to meet?

CRUMLEY: I met Scott when I was working in L.A., staying at The Sportsman’s Lodge in the Valley. Scott was trying to break into the screenwriting business, and he was staying with his aunt who lived not too far away. We met in a bar at The Sportsman’s Lodge and spent some time together. Then he went back to Paris and I saw him in Paris several times. I’d never seen anything he’d written until The Ice Harvest.

There’s a guy over there (in The Depot), Mike Lancaster, sitting in the corner, I’ve known for five years or so. He came up the other day and said he’d finished a novel, would I take a look at it. I said yes. You see, I have a deal in this town, for a six pack of beer, I will read 20 pages, as long as I don’t have to take it home. I won’t put it on my desk, I won’t keep it, I’ll read it and tell you what I think. It’s amazing how few people take me up on it!

KING: Well, in the posthumous Hugo collection The Real West Marginal Way, Bill Kittredge says he had a friend who used to demand, in the 1970s, that he get at least $5.95 for a poem because that was then the price of a bottle of Jim Beam, and a poem had to be worth as much as that.

CRUMLEY: The other thing is, I won’t read anyone’s novel, friends excluded, for less than $5,000, and it’s $10,000 if I say anything about it. I don’t want to spend my time doing that, I didn’t get into this business to be a teacher, although I enjoyed that when I did it for a while. I used to tell my students that if you write seriously, and you take it seriously, and even if you fail, you will walk differently the rest of your life. And if you have any luck you will know those people in your head better than you know your mother and father, your sister, children, wife. Those people live in your head.

KING: As Milo and Sughrue have been in yours for thirty years now, and you are letting them grow old across the books, and sometimes have quite inventive sex as they age!

CRUMLEY: Sex is just for fun. What the hell, old people get to rock! That reminds me of a friend who had a wonderful poem about leaving old people alone so they could fuck. With Milo and Sughrue, I know it’s not the usual way it happens in a lot of crime fiction, but I let the guys grow old. I always think of Milo as the best part of myself and Sughrue as the mean redneck part of myself. In my head, they’re two distinct characters and I happen to know them better than the other fifteen thousand characters that live in my head. With their aging, well, unfortunately it’s a lot like life, the outcome is often unpleasant, you get old and die, and disappear. That’s such a frightening prospect that millions of people spend millions of hours trying to make up some kind of version of life where you get out of it alive! But that’s not true, you don’t get out alive so you might as well try to have some fun this time because there ain’t gonna be no next time.

KING: You only get to go around once…

CRUMLEY: Isn’t that a Schlitz commercial!? I’m not kidding about having those characters in my head. I sit here (at the Depot) in this chair and watch people walk past, and look at their shoes. I never write about shoes, but shoes help create character. When I was first writing I used to do fifty pages of extensive notes to get a character to come to life. But it’s  just the luck of the draw. I’ve always had a knack for the organisation of the written word, and a knack for character, mostly because I’m a psychotic! Most people like me would be institutionalised. I haven’t been institutionalised for many years. I went into therapy about twenty years ago. It was a terrific experience and what I know about therapy is that nobody actually knows why it works. This nice middle-aged woman somehow magically, it seemed like magic, in the space of six to eight months, stopped this endless anger that I’d had for so many years. I used to hate bein’ smart. Into my 30s I would still get drunk and feel bad and beat my head on the board. Luckily I have big bones so I never hurt myself. I hated being smart as a kid, I’d get picked on, and that’s how I learned to kick ass and take names. That’s why I like living in Missoula. It’s so much easier to live in a town with smart people. I read a wonderful essay recently by this Harvard professor, “Democracy and Anti-Intellectualism in America”, and it’s a really wonderful description of why rednecks hate us. We take shit seriously that they don’t think about and we laugh at shit that they take seriously, that’s a bad crib but it’s a wonderful essay.

KING: On you and Texas, there seems to be a long, continuing ambivalence on your part.

CRUMLEY: When I was a kid it was in the constitution that you couldn’t speak Spanish in school, except in Spanish class. Now what does that tell the 65% Mexican Spanish speaking populace of my hometown? It tells you you’re a second class citizen. We hear a lot of idiot talk about freedom but this is a tremendously racist country, always has been.

KING: You were saying that you start the day by reading The Guardian online, as I do. I like it for lots of reasons but one is that it offers perspectives on international issues one doesn’t always find in Australian, or US journalism. I like the London Review of Books for similar reasons.

CRUMLEY: I read The Guardian every day. I don’t know how somebody starts with my background and decides there’s something European about them! This started really early on. I remember coming back from the Philippines and arguing with my dad’s bosses about idiotic religious shit. That’s when I thought I was an agnostic, or more a committed atheist. Back around 1955 I played in one of the first integrated football games in the state of Texas, the reason being that we were playing at the Corpus Christi College Academy, which was the Catholic school, and they couldn’t play on Friday, they had to play on Thursday. We had only integrated because the county had run out of money to run the bus for black kids. This was also during the “one riot, one ranger” line in Cleburne, Texas, a riot about integration. Texas still is not a pleasant place in all of its nooks and crannies. As for writing, something happened to me somewhere along the way, I don’t know exactly what it was. My folks didn’t read but I always read books. I never imagined writing one until I was about twenty-five, I guess.

KING: And you just happened to get into the best creative writing program in the country.

CRUMLEY: They’d let anybody in! I couldn’t get in now! So much of it is luck, but first you have to be talented and then you have to be willing to work really hard. That’s one of the things where I really had an advantage. I was the kind of kid who would keep rewriting, I would rewrite until I felt I liked it. For me, that’s when the good things happen, in the rewrites. You go back to a scene and discover a thing that you missed. Maybe it’s just an aside or maybe it’s just another way to look at it, but for me rewriting has always been the good part. But it’s also the hard part and it’s also one of the reasons I’m such a slow writer.

KING: And many contemporary publishers are keen to have writers deliver books every couple of years.

CRUMLEY: A local writer wrote very tight, readable books, and then she got married, had a baby and moved to North Carolina. She said, “I don’t want to write a book every two years,” and I thought, what a good, brave woman she is!

KING: You have been around the publishing industry for almost forty years now. Do you have any comments on how it is at the moment?

CRUMLEY: I never knew how to deal with publishers until I worked in Hollywood. I treat New York publishers exactly like I treat Hollywood executives. I have no respect for them, it’s all in the cheque, let me see the goddamn money, money talks, bullshit walks. Just in the last two to three years I’ve watched Jon Jackson, Neil McMann, George Pelecanos and they’ve all lost their publishers, they’re orphaned, gone, they didn’t sell enough books. The only reason I’ve managed to avoid that is because I have a reputation, it’s not because of sales. I found out, sort of by accident, that I was the only genre book that my editor was doing last year. She’s new to me, Molly Hollister at Viking, we’ve never met, she’s terrifically hard-working, and it’s quite nice to see an editor who works hard. It would have been better if we had known one another, face to face, that kind of thing. The relationship between you and your editor is a bit like a marriage in that there has to be some give and take and there have to be some places beyond which you cannot go.

KING: Have your experiences of being edited by different people across all your books over the years yielded any ideas about what is constant and what changes?

CRUMLEY: Each has been different. When I finished my first novel (One to Count Cadence) they wanted to cut 160 pages out of it. You know, that’s just not right. I won that one. You have to be willing to listen, you have to deal with these people, they have to deal with their group. I mean, you want your editor to be on your side at the meetings because that’s what it takes to get a book into a salesman’s hands, because the salesman are just salesman, they’re not necessarily book readers. You just have to know when to bow your neck and resist, and when to say, OK, I’ll take another look at it. I’ve always thought that because editors have never had to teach creative writing, they don’t know how to talk to writers about what maybe should happen next. They just know that something’s wrong and they want to fix it. They don’t necessarily know how to fix it.

KING: So you trust their sense that something isn’t working?

CRUMLEY: You trust it to some extent, you have to be willing to look at it again. I always run into this shit because I don’t explain things. I’m difficult to edit but I can be edited.

KING: Does Martha read the works in progress?

CRUMLEY: She can spell, I can’t spell.

KING: Well, they say Scott Fitzgerald couldn’t spell and Hemingway could spell a little better.

CRUMLEY: That’s what Hemingway said! Martha is a good writer and a poet and I trust her judgment. Like I was saying earlier about the Texas book, Martha was the one who talked me out of killing Milo. For some reason it was going to be the Milo book when he died and it wasn’t like, ‘oh honey, here’s a beer, could you think of not killing Milo,’ it was more, ‘maybe you don’t have to decide right now.’ I heard this story about Philip Roth years ago in graduate school who would take whatever he’d written that day, and read it to his wife, and then read it to his mistress. This is not what we do! Martha reads my stuff. Anyone who’s got the guts to marry me, at my age, my fifth time, at her age… She’s also a smartass.

KING: Well, keep those characters alive for a while yet. Your readers love them and want them to continue about their business. Don’t kill them off for a while.

CRUMLEY: Well, in the screenplay for The Last Good Kiss, the dog does not die. The last shot is the poet going out the door, he steps over the dog’s foot, and Fireball has hold of Trahearne’s pants as he’s trying to get away.

KING: Can you say something about how you are finding Missoula now? You have lived here for over thirty years and have seen it grow and change.

CRUMLEY: Well, this is my home. It’s doubled in size since I moved here. You walk past the pawn shops and see what seems like acres of drills and saws, the stuff that shit is made out of, and it’s all in the pawn shops because there’s no basic industry which brings everything together. There’s mining and timber, the motherfuckers would cut down every goddamn tree and blow up every hill. I mean, a football field of rock run through acid will turn up enough gold for a wedding ring. If they’re prepared to do that, there’s something very wrong. This isn’t cattle country, even though I like the way the cattle tastes out here better than back in cattle country. They grow more cows in Georgia than they do in the seven western states, they grow more trees in Georgia than they harvest in the seven western states. The scenery is lovely here and the people are great. We played Vermont or New Hampshire in the playoffs last year and some woman said, the scenery is spectacular and the people are ridiculously polite. In that way it’s kind of a southern town. It’s a very good town to live in, and there are so many writers here. It’s not just the people I know, my personal friends, it’s like there’s another whole body of writers here that nobody knows, but who work here.

KING: What are you reading at the moment?

CRUMLEY: I’m 66 next month and what has happened this last year is that I can no longer read without my glasses on. This has been a terrible discovery. It’s really bitten into my reading. What used to take me three days now takes me three weeks, so I don’t read like I used to. I mostly read what people tell me they like, and I read a lot of history, mostly because I know people are always lyin’ about the history.

* * * * *

Works Cited

In Richard Hugo, Making Certain it Goes On: The Collected Poems  (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1991); “The Right Madness on Skye”; “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg.”

In Richard Hugo, The Real West Marginal Way: A Poet’s Autobiography ed. Ripley S. Hugo, Lois Welch and James Welch  (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1986) Hugo says, “Also got a mystery novel out of it (going to Skye) because I wrote the first drafts of the mystery novel there.” (258)

A transcript of Noel King’s 1996 interview with James Crumley is at Day Labor, the official blog of Crime Factory magazine.

© 2012 Noel King

from Contrappasso Magazine #1, August 2012

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