Saturday, 10 August 2013
Author Interview: Richard Lester
About the Author:
Richard A. Lester (b 1978) is an American writer/filmmaker. He has written scripts, short stories, and one novel to date. He has also worked on several plays, and directed an independent film. His writing is usually gritty and satirical; focusing on outlandish characters and the wild situations that they embed themselves in. He is heavily influenced by film; namely exploitation movies of the 1970's and noir titles of the 1930's and 1940's. His literary influences include Carl Hiaasen, Christopher Moore, and Donald Ray Pollock. His other interests include history, science, and education. He also runs a film review blog entitled A Reel Indication.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I do a lot of both, actually. I let the story for a novel stew for months before I attempt to write. I make notes of people I see that have an interesting quality, or an image that pops into my head.
During the planning period, I form all of these notes into an outline. Once I start writing, however, I let the story take me where ever it wants to go.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Absolutely. That's how I know that I'm in the right frame of mind. I feel like the characters are feeding me information, and it's my job to accurately get it onto the page.
What is your favourite food?
I have been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years, now. I love Vietnamese tofu dishes, Chinese food, Mexican... almost everything! I've been taking a much more active role in what I eat lately,
so I've been cooking a lot more. I have found quite a few things that are simple and delicious. Maybe I'll write a cook book next.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Torn between the two. For most of my life, I stayed up all night. That seemed to be the only time I could write. After getting a "real job" years ago, I had to adjust to being a morning person. Now days,
I actually set my alarm so that I can get up early to write. It's both amazing and horrifying to me!
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I have a fantasy where I throw some clothes into my car and just drive. I want to explore the vast reaches of America in a winding road trip. I also want to go to Europe and spend time there. I've only
been to England and Scotland, and I feel like there's so much more to explore. I am a huge history buff, so to see some of the WWII monuments and important places would be a dream come true to me.
Do distant places feature in your books?
My next book will actually take place in the Western United States. Most of my work, so far, has stayed pretty close to home. I definitely feel like it's time for me to branch out.
Do you listen to music while writing?
Usually, I do. I worked in CD stores for a number of years, so music has always been a big influence on me. I try to find pieces that fit the mood of what I am writing. I mainly listen to instrumental bands, or orchestral music. I also use a lot of soundtracks. I'm listening to the Man of Steel soundtrack as I'm answering this question, as a matter of fact!
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
My latest release is a novel entitled The Check Out. It is about a group of lowlifes that work at a failing grocery store. Each of the employees are caught up in their own terrible situation, and are desperately looking for a way out. A corporate executive holds a store meeting to tell them all about a $10,000 cash giveaway, and they all, independent of each other, decide to steal it on the same night. It's a pretty outlandish tale, that I refer to as a Satirical Thriller. There's sex, violence, drugs, produce...you name it! There's a lot of action, drama, and humor to the piece. I think it's got a lot for everyone.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Everything! I have been writing since I was young, with no real ambition of doing much with it. Once I started writing a novel, I decided that it was time to try to make it more than a hobby. I have been researching every nut and bolt of the process for months now, and have learned a tremendous amount.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I would probably have started researching the marketing process earlier on. I had months where I was waiting on edits to come in that I could have used more efficiently. Also, I would have been a little
more organized with all of the information I collected. There's so much to advice to sift through that you really have to keep records and links to everything.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
Like a lot of people, I am a frustrated filmmaker. I directed an independent film ten years ago, and have worked on various films for other people since then. Over the years, I wrote a number of scripts that I could never find the time or money to move ahead on, so I abandoned that dream to be an author. Cinema is still a huge influence on me and my writing. The Check Out is a film noir plot, expressed as exploitation. My literary influences include Carl Hiaasen, Christopher Moore, and more recently, Donald Ray Pollock. As I stated before, music also helps me shape my material. As I write, I always "see the shot." I hear the soundtrack in my head to each chapter. I really try to incorporate all the different forms of media into my words.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
If you are a novice writer, then keep writing. Write as much as you can. Find other people who write, and encourage each other. Find mentors who can help you write. Don't be afraid of criticism. At best, it will make you a stronger writer. At worst, it can make you a stronger writer. If you are new to self publishing, then spend time and money where it matters: editing and cover design. You can run the best marketing campaign in the world, but if the material isn't there in an attractive package, no one's going to read it.
What are three words that describe you?
Witty, Curious, Driven
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
I could never pick just one book as a favorite. One that I read recently that I fell in love with was The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock. Brutal, but awe inspiring.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
Failing grocery store manager Larry Prescott just wants a quickie. With a frigid wife waiting at home, Larry decides to have some extramarital fun with an employee named Maxine Watkins. Though he has no way of knowing it, Larry is sowing the seeds for a crime spree that will be dubbed “The MegaSaver Massacre. “
The Check Out is a satirical thriller that will appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Moore. It is the story of a $10,000 giveaway, and the employees who independently decide to heist the money on the same night. An ensemble piece, each chapter focuses on the motivations and actions of a different main character. Larry Prescott is an arrogant drunk whose affair quickly spirals towards danger. Maxine Watkins is a scheming liar, determined to claw her way out of indigence. Terrence Claybrook, the assistant manager, is an escaped convict trying to keep his past from catching up to him. Roland Tillman, a blood thirsty fugitive, reunites with his former cellmate during the MegaSaver robbery. Brad, an addiction ridden stocker, tries to turn his life around while picking up the pieces of a broken marriage. They each see the prize money as their only lifeline, and are determined to do everything necessary to grab it.
List of previous books if any
Dinner for One (short story)
Father McKenzie (short story)
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
Books and Tales will be closing in January 2018.