Short, Sharp Interview: Vicki Hendricks

Voluntary Madness final cover 55-aPDB: What’s going on now?

Lucky for me, my novel Voluntary Madness is being reprinted this month, or I would have to say not much. I’m taking a break from writing to finish my 35th year of teaching with less stress. But I’m particularly excited because New Pulp Press is in Key West where the story takes place, one of my favorite cities. I plan to make a visit.

PDB: How did you research this book?

I lived in Key West for one sweaty fall in the mid-nineties, when I was finishing Iguana Love, doing what I’d always dreamed of doing as a writer, hanging out and getting drunk. I was ripe for a new idea, and the atmosphere and infamous characters from Old Town inspired my best effort. Many a night I biked home, inebriated, from Viva Zapata, (alas, long gone) down the crumbling, tree-lined alley, Catherine Street. It was easy to imagine my character Juliet, naked and feeling invulnerable, leaping from the shadows to surprise lone men and create a scene.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Right now, I would have to say Fur People because it’s my newest, so that’s natural. But overall, my favorite has always been Voluntary Madness. It’s my most original plot, with the quirkiest characters and place. I’ve feathered in memories among the fiction. The ending might be my best too.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

I can never decide, but for today, let’s go with the film: Fargo; then my truly favorite noir novel: The Postman Always Rings Twice; the old song “Those Were the Days”; and for TV, a current selection: Breaking Bad.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Definitely. It helps drive the plot. I’ve always set my novels in various parts of Florida, having spent my adult life here. Its people, often seekers of paradise, invite drama, and the landscape is vibrant year-round, available for boating, scuba, sailing, skydiving, running around naked–sports that I’ve incorporated into my novels.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Rarely. Only if I happen to be looking at that page for some other reason. Since I haven’t made my living on writing for years, selling is mostly a game, and I don’t have much time to play. But I’ve gotten my rights back for everything and put all my books up on Amazon, so now and then I check my sales dashboard and think, Hmm. Guess I need to make a Facebook post. Or, Oh, good month. Time to celebrate with a beer milkshake! When sales make a leap, it generally means somebody’s mentioned me in Salon.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m relaxed about the future.  Possibly, I’ll finish my memoir, a biography about my deceased cat Snickers, my companion of twenty years, who counseled me during the rigors of publication and concurrent adventurous lifestyle.  Snickers knew all. Then I have a screenplay, Chez Usher, that I might turn into a novel, then a secret idea for another novel that I’m certain no publisher will touch. It doesn’t matter. I’ll probably write it anyway because I’m interested to find out what happens.

Vicki Hendricks head shotBio:Vicki Hendricks is the author of the novels Miami Purity, Iguana Love, Voluntary Madness, Sky Blues, Cruel Poetry, an Edgar Award Finalist, and Fur People. Her short stories are collected in Florida Gothic Stories. She lives in Hollywood, Florida, and teaches writing at Broward College. Participation in adventure sports and knowledge of the Florida environment is reflected in her plots and settings. Her website is at http://www.vickihendricks.com

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