Interview with Wolf DeVoon   2 comments

Today’s interview is with Wolf DeVoon, who I met through the radio program Patriot’s Lament, where the topic was not his fiction, but his writings on the constitution and libertarian thinking. Tell us something about yourself. 

 

Wolf Devoon Author PicI started in a small Rust Belt village, got out as soon as I could, went to the nearest big city. Not very good at paying bills. Married four times.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote and produced a class play in 3rd grade. Wanting to become a writer was never a goal as such. I got beaten into it, more or less, when I realized that I wasn’t going to make it as a film director. I wrote screenplays in the 1980s, some of them work-for-hire, others on spec, worked on and off as a film editor, freelance film & TV director, kept at it doggedly until the mid-90s. Then one day I found myself in a cubicle at Disney, spending Mickey’s money to transfer other people’s movies to home video, and it was over. They say when a great director dies, he becomes a cameraman. I became a writer instead, started a novel.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

I start with a character in a difficult situation, a vague idea of where it’s going, but it seems to unfold in unexpected ways. I wrote an essay about it, spoke of it as a temple with its own mad logic of dramatic necessity – and I’m incapable of doing anything else when I write, until it’s finished, writing every day for months.

 

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

 

I admire Scott Fitzgerald, read him and marvel, but Chandler and Hammett shaped how I see the world — a lone wolf who survives by the skin of his teeth, because he knows what makes people tick. For fun, I re-read Robert Louis Stevenson. I write a genre that I call “bang-ow, with sex scenes.” Not hardboiled pulp, although a lot of people die. The foreground is always an adult romance.

 

 

What are you passionate about?

 

Wolf VALOR COVER 600px (1)That’s a tough question. When I started as a teenage filmmaker, I loved the smell of raw stock. I got lucky in Hollywood, had a brilliant mentor who taught me how to direct actors, and there’s a special sort of exaltation in an editing room, to make the screen come alive. There was a sign in the Australian Film Academy that said: When the shooting stops, the filmmaking begins. That’s how I build scenes in a novel. Words became my raw stock and action and sound.

 

I love that metafor. What is something you cannot live without?

 

Truthfully? I haven’t been lovingly touched in years. It’s killing me.

 

 

When you are not writing, what do you do?

 

Promote my books, read financial news, do physical work. I spent a year clearing land and supervising construction of a house. Took a long time to clean up, do finish carpentry. At the moment I’m staring at a blank future, nowhere to go and nothing to do, except write.

 

 

Ooo, the infamous blinking cursor. Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

 

My latest was a real breakthrough. Previous books took every ounce of my energy. ‘A Portrait of Valor’ was easy to write, but I went through a dozen boxes of tissues, cried my eyes out in triumph and tender admiration for Chris and Peachy.

 

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

 

Life on life’s terms. That’s the short answer. When seconds count, the police are doing something else, unable to save life or stop a bad guy.

 

 

So true! What sort of research do you do for your novels?

 

‘Mars Shall Thunder’ required a lot of technical research, architectural design, utility engineering, maps, etc. ‘A Portrait of Valor’ needed place-name and spelling verification. I asked an FBI pal to read the draft of a chapter for authenticity, and she suggested certain weapons that a professional killer would carry.

 

 

So it varies. If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

 

There are better writers.

 

 

Do you have a special place where you write?

 

Desk, keyboard, ashtray, coffee pot, music, a place to lay down. Alone. It’s always been that way from the beginning. There had to be a room no one else enters. ‘A Portrait of Valor’ was written in a small tin barn. Years ago, one of my first projects was written in a tack room, 6V lantern on a hook over a manual typewriter.

 

 

 

Sounds atmospheric. Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

 

The answer is slightly embarrassing. The goal of my work is to show that freedom matters, that people have to act, come hell or high water, win lose or draw.

 

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

 

Ray Chandler gave me permission to forget about plot (although I like intrigue, action, seemingly hopeless predicaments). Believability is a matter of style.

 

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

 

I try to plan, always need to see where it’s going, yet two-thirds is discovery. The business of writing is forcing characters to discover what matters, and it’s usually not what anyone expects. None of my people remain unchanged. It was drilled into me by critic Bill Kerr (How Not To Write A Play). Show the transformation on stage. There is no drama unless we see someone transformed. Very difficult to predict that in advance. It has to be discovered as the characters move and grow.

 

 

Absolutely. What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

 

I’ve settled on first-person for a series with Chris and Peachy.

 

 

Do you head-hop?

 

Yes – and got complaints from editors I pitched. When Chris goes to prison, I jump to Peachy first-person (“Mrs. Blount’s Chapter”) because she has all the interesting obstacles and decisions to make.

 

In previous stories, I’ve used third-person, first-person, head-hopping, at times a sort of blurt heat / image / mind fire, to render great passion. Worse: commentary on the human condition, to say: Look at this, see what it means.

 

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

 

Laptop, solar charger, tools. Tender Is The Night, The Fountainhead.

 

 

Talk about your books individually.

 

FIRST FEATURE (2007)

autobiography, subtitled ‘A Rake’s Progress in Downtown Gomorrah’

my first, perhaps best literary work, written 1988, revised 2004

 

LAISSEZ FAIRE LAW (2007)

a collection of essays, evolution of my thought on liberty and justice

In prison, I vowed to do something about government. It took 25 years.

 

THE GOOD WALK ALONE (2007)

16-chapter serial fiction written for Laissez Faire City Times

main character is a female cop, homicide investigator, warrior

 

MARS SHALL THUNDER (2008)

first draft 1998, rewritten and tightened 2002

Harry and Laura destroy a colonial paradise

 

THE CONSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT IN GALT’S GULCH (2014)

compares utopian fiction and real-world experience

 

AN EGGSHELL ARMED WITH SLEDGEHAMMERS (2015)

https://www.amazon.com/Eggshell-Armed-Sledgehammers-Wolf-DeVoon/dp/1532984243

collection of essays, satire, anecdotes, and dream fiction

 

ROCK AND ROLL REST HOME (2016)

anthology of silly stories

 

A PORTRAIT OF VALOR (2016)

http://www.lulu.com/shop/wolf-devoon/a-portrait-of-valor/paperback/product-23015202.html

detective novel

 

RUBE (to be published posthumously)

memoirs

 

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

 

Hot water seeks its own level. It’s possible to find each other, mate for life, unquestionably worthy of each other, destined to love, price no object.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

 

That they lost awareness of author, text, typography – immersed in story.

 

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

 

No choice.

 

 

If you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.

 

In 1990 I co-authored a reference book that sold well, 6,000 hardcover and 4,000 paperbacks, with foreign rights revenue and a Simon & Schuster offer, quite a lot of publicity, book signings, good reviews in library journals, radio interviews.

 

Self-publishing is no money, no publicity, no sales.

 

 

There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

 

It works for some authors, especially celebrities, fantasy/horror, thrillers.

 

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

 

None.

 

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

 

Distribution, chain bookstore sales, radio and TV chat shows, bestseller lists

 

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

 

I can’t and don’t. A few people know my work.

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2 responses to “Interview with Wolf DeVoon

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  1. Thanks. Deeply appreciated.

    Like

    • I meant to email you the link today, but my money job was hectic and then the Internet went down here at home for a couple of hours. But you found it on your own. It’s pinned to my Twitter page if you want to retweet from there or if you do your own promotion, tag me and I’ll give yours some loft.

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