James Reasoner Interview at Liberi di scrivere

 
Those nice people at the rather cool Italin crime writing mag  Liberi di scrivere were kind enough to send me the English translation of their recent interview with the legendary crime writer James Reasoner.
The Italian interview is here
 
And here’s the English one:
 
Liberi di scrivere Interview with James Reasoner 
“Hi, James. 
Thanks for accepting my interview and welcome to Liberi di scrivere. Tell us something about you. Who is James Reasoner?
A storyteller. A lifelong Texan. A husband and father. Not necessarily in that order.
 
Tell us something about your background and your childhood.

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in a small town nearby. It was a very normal childhood. My mother was a schoolteacher, although she didn’t teach after I was born, and my father worked in the aircraft industry and also repaired television sets. 
I went all the way through school in the same town and attended college with the idea of being either a librarian or teacher . . . although I knew by then that what I really wanted to be was a writer.
 
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been making up stories for my own entertainment. When I was growing up in the 1960s, Westerns were very popular on TV, and when I played with the other kids in the neighbourhood, I usually came up with some sort of story to go with it, instead of the group of us just running around and pretending to shoot each other. 
I started writing down my stories when I was 11 years old and continued to do so from then on. By the time I was 13 I knew I wanted to be a professional writer, but that seemed impossible. A few years later, though, I started submitting stories to magazines, so at least I was giving it a try.
 
Did you have much encouragement in those early times and if so by whom?
 
My parents didn’t actually encourage me, but they didn’t discourage me, either. They just couldn’t grasp the concept of someone actually being a professional writer, especially not someone from a small town in Texas. My friends, who sometimes appeared in my stories, seemed more enthusiastic about it, but I doubt if it ever occurred to them that I might write for a living someday. People where I was from just didn’t do that.
Tell us something about “Texas Wind”, your debut now published for the first time in Italy by Meridiano Zero and translated by Marco Vicentini who has a great fondness for  American crime writing . How long did you work on it ? Where do you get your ideas?
I started writing TEXAS WINDin the fall of 1978 and finished it in January 1979. By the time I started working on it I had been a professional writer for almost two years. My first sale was in December 1976, and I had published quite a few mystery stories in MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE. IMike Shayne novellas in the magazine under the Brett Halliday name and decided it was time to try a novel of my own. 
Naturally I decided on a private eye novel and set out to write a realistic book about Texas that wasn’t filled with stereotypes.  had been a fan of mystery fiction for many years, starting with juvenile novels, and I was particularly fond of private eye novels. I had done a couple of the
Also, on a practical level, most private eye novels that I’d read were set in New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco, and I hadn’t been to any of those places. But I’d been around Fort Worth all my life and knew it very well, and I didn’t see any reason that a private eye novel couldn’t be set there. All the locations in the book except for two or three actually exist, or at least they did at the time.
 
Tell us something about your road to publication. Have you received many rejections?
Like most writers, I received many, many rejection slips, enough that I was seriously considering giving up. But then I got married, and my wife Livia Washburn (who eventually became an award-winning novelist herself) convinced me to stick with it and try harder. I sold my first story a few months later, and while I’ve had plenty of rejections since then, I’ve been able to sell pretty steadily, too.Your first novel is a private eye novel set in Fort Worth. You start the novel with the Cody’s visit to a potential client. It remind me Marlowe in The Big Sleep or Lew Archer in The Moving Target. Do you think of any particular writers as having influenced your style, or approach? Crumley in particular?
When I was in high school and college, I read every private eye author I could get my hands on. Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald, of course, but also Richard S. Prather, Mickey Spillane, Brett Halliday (I was reading Mike Shayne novels long before I ever dreamed that I would write stories about him), Michael Avallone, and plenty of others, I’m sure. 
One I didn’t read at that time, though, was James Crumley. I didn’t discover his work until after I had started writing. I became friends with Joe R. Lansdale and Joe recommended Crumley’s THE LAST GOOD KISS to me. It remains one of my favourite novels, with one of the best opening lines of all time, and I’ve read several more of his novels, but I don’t think his work really influenced mine to any great extent.
 
Could you tell us a little about your protagonist, Cody?
Cody (and I’m pretty sure that’s his last name, but to this day I don’t know his first name) is a smart, decent guy, and tough enough when he has to be. He was born and raised in Texas and loves the place, but he doesn’t necessarily like everything it’s come to be. He has a broad range of interests. 
One of my favourite lines from the novel is when Janice looks at the books in Cody’s apartment and says, “That’s the first time I’ve seen Herman Hesse and Zane Grey on the same shelf.” 
One thing I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned about him is that I came up with the name not because of Buffalo Bill Cody but rather Phil Cody, who was an early editor at BLACK MASK before Joseph T. Shaw became editor.”
And here is the FULL English language version on the Liberi di scrivere interview blog: HERE