What: He received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. He is the author of AMERICAN STATIC, HUSTLE, KNUCKLEBALL, and PIGGYBACK.
Where: San Francisco
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
Congrats on the release of AMERICAN STATIC. What would you like readers to know about your latest novel?
Thanks! What to let readers know? Where to buy it! Down & Out Books tells me you can order this one from any bookstore, so have at it. As far as the story goes, if you enjoyed HUSTLE, I think you’ll love this. It’s fast-paced, down and dirty, and a ton of fun. Provided you have a twisted view of what fun is.
Almost nothing. I’m terrible at rewriting. It went through several line-edits, including an early one by Rob Pierce, and the final one by Chris Rhatigan. As far as the story line goes, I stuck with it. Maybe beefed up a character or two. I’m not one of those guys who steamrolls through and goes back for a top-down rewrite. Every time I lock up, I tend to go back to the start and tweak it. So by the time my first draft is done, it’s close to the final product.
You have written several sordid tales about San Francisco. What is it about that geographical region that makes you want to keep writing about it?
It’s funny, each book I write the radius grows a little farther. My next two novels stretch as far north as Garberville—known as Garbageville to the locals—and as far south as Malibu. But San Francisco plays a big part in every one of ‘em. If I lived in Pomona, I’d probably be writing about it instead.
AMERICAN STATIC starts when your protagonist, Steven, comes to along the 101 freeway and hops into a car with a stranger named Quinn. Is this based on any real life hitchhiking adventures of your own?
Ha! No. I came from a time when hitchhiking was wiped out. Right after Charles Mason. Charley really killed the art of hitchhiking. Parents finally had a boogeyman to keep kids from putting their thumbs out, and an excuse never to pick somebody up.
Speaking of real life adventures, you often write about corrupt cops. What’s your personal relationship with law enforcement these days?
My hands still shake when I get pulled over. Which is rare. There were so many years when I was carrying any number of felonies in my pockets, I avoided any contact with The Man. That’s still hardwired into me. My cop radar is always on. I forget that I’m a middle-aged dad doing nothing wrong.
For new readers discovering you, which book would you tell them to start with?
Probably HUSTLE. There’s a visceral aesthetic there I try to adhere to. It’s got the sleaze factor, which is always nice to show off, and it’s a simple, straightforward story really.
How do you plan to promote AMERICAN STATIC? Any plans to take the show on the road?
I wish. Life has me pinned down at the moment. I’d love to at least get down to L.A. again for one of Eric Beetner’s Noir at the Bars, but for now, I’ve just got to work it the best I can from my tiny desk.
What other publishing plans do you have for 2017 and beyond?
Keep going. I’ve got two more completed—at least I think they’re completed, my agent may have a different opinion—and I hope to get another underway this year. Takes me about a year to write one of these fuckers, so I better get cracking.
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S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series including BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and GRIZZLY SEASON (Rare Bird Books). His Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.