Short, Sharp Interview: Chris Leek

gospelPDB: Can you pitch Gospel of the Bullet in 25 words or less?

CL: Sure. It’s the heart warming story of a young boy’s forbidden love for his pet walrus. No wait, that’s not right. Gospel of the Bullet is a revenge-fuelled western that puts the blood back into ‘Bloody Kansas’. It’s a story about hope and perhaps also redemption.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

CL: Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer are always on my playlist (those of you born after 1990 may need to ask your parents.) Although more recently alternative country band The Delines and post-punk New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem have found there way on to it as well.

I couldn’t get into TRUE DETECTIVE, but Nic Pizzolatto really blew me away with his novel GALVESTON. Chris Rhatigan’s new short story collection WAKE UP TIME TO DIE is a darn good read too.

The film adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s COLD IN JULY was surprisingly good. Don Johnson is perfect for the role of Jim Bob and he really stole the show, much in the same way as his character did in the book.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

CL: Yes, although it’s not always easy for me. I like nothing better than kicking back with a good book, but that’s the key, it has to be good. There are some authors who can consistently take me away and make me forget I’m a writer. Daniel Woodrell is one, Brian Panowich another.

The problems really start when I’m not enjoying the book. That’s when the writer in me acts up and I find myself picking the thing to pieces. At that point I usually give up on it. I used to read every book right through to the end, but not anymore. Life is just too short to waste time on stuff you don’t dig.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

CL: It hadn’t really crossed my mind until recently, but several people have told me that Gospel of the Bullet has a cinematic quality to it that would play on the big screen. I’ll admit that has kind of got me thinking.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

CL: If I’m writing crime fiction then not too much, I tend to wing a lot of it, apart from the police procedural stuff. My crime fighting buddy Ryan Sayles stops me from sounding like a complete idiot on that count.

But for the westerns research is actually quite important. It’s a different ball game when you are setting stories around real life historical events. I think I owe it to myself and my readers to at least try for a reasonable degree of accuracy. With Gospel I spent a lot of time researching the mundane things like how much a loaf of bread cost in 1870. Yeah, I know, I need to get out more.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

CL: In short, I wouldn’t be here without it. Social media has its uses as a promotional tool, and it also provides the world with an endless supply of of cat pictures. But for me it’s about the friendship and support of like minded people. There are guys who I met on social media that I now consider to be family.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

CL: It’s going to be a busy end to the year. My fast-paced crime novella NEVADA THUNDER will be out next month from Leek_C (2)Snubnose Press. Hot on the heels of that is the next Zelmer Pulp issue, MAYBE I SHOULD JUST SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE, and then December 1st sees the much anticipated release of TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND. This Bruce Springsteen inspired collection of crime /noir is a project very close to my heart and with stories from the likes of Dennis Lehane and James Grady it rocks just as hard as the Boss himself.

Thanks for having me over Paul, and by the way, that vase on the bathroom window ledge was like that when I got here.

Bio: Chris Leek is the author of Gospel of the Bullet, Nevada Thunder and the short story collection, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em. He is part of the team behind genre fiction imprint Zelmer Pulp and an editor at western fiction magazine, The Big Adios. He can be contacted via: www.zelmerpulp.com or at his blog: www.nevadaroadkill.blogspot.co.uk

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