Interview with Alan Asnen, Author of On Revelation’s Wall
28 Sep 2022
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write On Revelation’s Wall: A Frank Gould Mystery?
The story behind the story… Really? Okay, you asked.
I had an odd life. My friends asked me to write a memoir. But my life was a bit more dull than any of us thought. So I turned it into fiction, using bits and pieces of my reality to give the main character some… character. Then the first book folded into a second, the second into a third, on and on, continuing into this eighth. And now I’m working on a ninth. With three volumes of short stories that fill in some gaps.
Theme Songs… Now you unlock my ancient DJ mastermind… For Frank, my first pick would have been “Something in the Way” by Nirvana but “The Batman” already stole that, so I’m left with a toss-up between “Do You Want to Know a Secret” by The Beatles and “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks (or perhaps the entirety of “Muswell Hillbillies”). For Paula Panday, no question, “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf. Melissa Berger is a harder nut to crack, musically. Probably “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper because she generally doesn’t.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
Fav genre to read… Cannot lie. I do so much research for my books that I end up reading mostly non-fiction and, there, my nose can be found in certain periodicals, so I can keep up to date.
I used to read loads of thrillers and mysteries but found I was mimicking them. I don’t want to do that. I still love them, though, especially Manchette, Highsmith, Householder, Modiano and Westlake.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
My TBR… This I should skip. I gave most of my library away to my Alma Mater. (And a nice plaque they gave me in return. How sweet.) All so that I could make room for the books I haven’t read.
I have a youngish admirer in London who keeps sending me lists of books I should read that I promise I will. Actually, I read them when I was more youngish than she and they’re all in my old school’s library now, so I’m having to buy new copies and put them back on my shelves to reread them. A promise is a promise. All except The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson which I’ve not read yet. That’s TBR…
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
My fav scene… I used to hate writing both sex and violence. Now that I’ve gotten the “feel” for it I am loving writing the sex scenes. I still have some difficulty getting up the nerve to sit through an entire scene of violence in one gulp. Don’t get me wrong. I can sit through an entire sequence of Avengers movies in one night without a blink. It’s trying to make that brutality come to life on the page that gives me nightmares.
But this time it clicked because I’d taken my darling Emily Dickinson with me. I know. Ironic. Emily? Violent? Lines from her poetry form the titles for all my books. In this book I went the next step and also used them as titles for each chapter and they guided me along much as an outline would (I don’t use outlines; I’m a “pantser”). In one scene the chapter title acted almost like a spirit guide. That was exciting. And it was one of the more violent scenes. I guess you had to be there. Glad I was.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
Quirky writing habits… I write in front of a large window (well, of course, also in front of a computer with a large screen…) that looks out over some small woods occupied by, you guessed it, wildlife, which keeps me necessarily distracted as I need to be between thoughts and typing. This was not handed to me, either. I earned it. Up the 1%!!! And every once in a while there’s a strange calico creature who sneaks up and screams at me to scratch her or cuddle for a few minutes. It’s a healthy thing to get up and stretch. That’s me, not her. “You gotta move, you gotta move.” That’s a theme song, too.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
Motto and quote… On the title page of every book: Si bonum facere non potes, malum minorem facere conar (if you cannot make it better, don’t make it worse) and “Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does.”—Walt Whitman
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
That one thing to remember… Get involved with the world, the living things in it that need your energy and kindness.
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