In this podcast, Joe R. Lansdale talks about The Donut Legion, Jane Goes North, conspiracy theories, and much more.
About Joe R. Lansdale
Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in more than two dozen short-story collections, he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies, and has won ten Bram Stoker Awards. His novella Bubba Ho-Tep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” was adapted to film for Showtime’s “Masters of Horror,” and he adapted his short story “Christmas with the Dead” to film hisownself. The film adaptation of his novel Cold in July was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Sundance Channel has adapted his Hap & Leonard novels for television. He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton, and The Drive-In,. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.
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They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella
Read They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella right now or listen to the They’re Watching audiobook narrated by RJ Bayley.
The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, narrated by RJ Bayley
Michael David Wilson 0:28
Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Joe R Lansdale, a living legend and one of the best writers on the planet. He's the author of over 14 novels and numerous short stories. And today, we are chatting with Joe to celebrate the release of his recent book, The donut Legion, but we also get into a multitude of other topics including conspiracy theories, the Coen Brothers, gain goes north and much more. But before we get into all of that good stuff, it is time for a quick advert break.
Bob Pastorella 1:29
From the host of This Is Horror Podcast comes a dark thriller of obsession, paranoia, and voyeurism. After relocating to a small coastal town, Brian discovers a hole that gazes into his neighbor's bedroom. Every night she dances and he peeps, same song, same time, same wild and mesmerizing dance. But soon Brian suspects he's not the only one watching. She's not the only one being watched. They're Watching is The Wicker Man meets Body Double with a splash of Suspiria They're Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella is available from this is horror.co.uk Amazon and wherever good books are sold.
RJ Bayley 2:08
It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh, and become one with me.
Bob Pastorella 2:17
From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video, his life descends into paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and everyone he loves. The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction from iPhone generation available now in paperback ebook and audio.
Michael David Wilson 2:46
Okay with that said, here it is it is Joe R. Lansdale on This Is Horror. Carrie, welcome back to This Is Horror.
Joe R. Lansdale 3:00
Thank you glad to be here.
Michael David Wilson 3:02
So the last time we spoke was actually in 2019 for episode 300. Yeah, yeah. And then before that the last time where we spoke for two hours was 2017. When I when I looked, I couldn't believe I've been so long.
Joe R. Lansdale 3:24
Yeah. Wow. I must have been very young man.
Michael David Wilson 3:29
Well, we were we were heroes. Certainly younger is time does have a way of progressing. It's one of the few constants in life. It does. Yeah, yeah. Now, I'm wondering and give given the length for time, this could be a difficult one to answer. But what do you think, are the biggest changes for you? So in six years, I guess both personally and professionally.
Joe R. Lansdale 3:58
It's weird, because I don't think that much has changed for me, you know, in my career and stuff like that. The, you know, during the COVID period, I was probably home a little more. But you know, I work at home. I think the difference is I haven't traveled globally as much. The last place we went to was Japan and China in 2019. And that was before they knew that COVID was COVID. And we had it while we were in China. And in fact, we were by Wuhan. So we came home and we were very, very sick with it. And I never will. I wasn't sick. My wife was very sick. I was tired. I just felt exhausted. Yeah. And I kept saying, Man, I got old overnight, you know, and then we found out about COVID and, you know, got vaccinated, all that sort of stuff. And I bet a few months back last year I got it again and was over it in about two days because I was vaccinated and you know they had a new drug they were given. And so it was like, it was like, it wasn't like I had a cold. It was like I had the beginnings of a cold. And it never got any worse. Thank goodness, because I lost a lot of people to COVID.
Michael David Wilson 5:11
Yeah, yeah, I had a similar experience to you. Because I, I first got it again, when people weren't even aware, really, it was a thing. I mean, I actually got it in at the start of 2020. And so at that point, it was known that it was going on in China or in Asia, but I was in the UK at the time. But it had spread to an area in London and my wife at the time, she got it, and then me and my daughter came down with it too. And yeah, it it wasn't so rough to begin with. But then literally about two days after right, got it. I had I had some minor surgery. Now, I didn't know that I had COVID at the time. So goodness knows who I might have spread that too. I'm very sorry. But having had the surgery, like then it's like my
Joe R. Lansdale 6:10
Be Patient Zero.
Michael David Wilson 6:13
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. But the surgery, obviously, the immune system went down. And then then I was in a bit of a rough way. After that. And then I got it again, kind of, I think it was, yeah, early this year. And it was, it was relatively mild. So yeah, that was good, too. But
Joe R. Lansdale 6:45
it didn't really change much for me. I mean, yeah, I mean, except for just being home more. During that time. It didn't change my lifestyle much. But you know, what's weird, though, is I think that it sort of gave everything a malaise. Even if you were doing okay, I mean, the, the world was not doing okay. And everybody you know, just about everybody you knew was was sick or getting sick or about to be sick. And you know, of course, we're wearing masks if we go to the store and all these different things. So it was like a surreal time, you know, it was, it felt very, very strange at times, it didn't even feel real, because it was different from any experience that I had ever had. It was like the flu back in 1918, or 17, or 18. Right, when that came along. And everybody, you know, had the same situation with this with the flu. But I think that it, it changed how I felt about some of the stuff I was writing. It didn't make it harder to do. It just made it different to do.
Michael David Wilson 7:47
Yeah, yeah. Well, what were some of the things that it kind of changed in terms of your view with writing.
Joe R. Lansdale 7:57
Writing for me, I don't like to say it's easy because that that's a misstatement, but I am not somebody that has, you know, a hard time writing, meaning I enjoy doing it. I'm not someone who likes having written or like George Martin, who just you know, does not does not want to do it, you know, and so he has to plan to do it, force himself to do it. I enjoy doing it, I get up in the morning and and do it. But when I was writing a novel, during that time, I would get up and it was like, it wasn't hard to do per se, I was still doing the same amount of work. But I just felt like man, I didn't know how to feel about the work itself. It was like my critical judgment was no good. And I thought, Gee, I just I must be messing this up. It turned out that I wasn't it turned out it was a fairly successful book. And I look at it now. And I go, okay, it's fine. But I think it just changed the way I felt about about everything, you know, and I think that was because of what was going on in the world in general.
Michael David Wilson 9:00
Yeah, yeah. I think a lot of people just started questioning, like, almost their purpose and what they're doing, particularly when you've got this backdrop of the pandemic, and just, it was a very surreal time. I mean, I mean, even here in Japan, it's not completely gone back to normal, per se. I mean, that still indoors, pretty much like 90% of people are wearing a mask and when teaching and in schools wearing a mask to the interesting thing here is there was never like a legal mandate that meant that you had to but here, people are very compliant. If they say you should do this, you don't even need to make a law. And they will but now we've we've actually got almost the reverse situation of that where the government has said like, Okay, well, you don't really, you don't have to wait add a mask anymore, but people are too afraid to take it off in a lot of situations. So it's gonna be interesting. Because I think in May, they're going to suggest, okay, you don't need to wear it in schools anymore. But I don't know how many students and teachers will actually comply with that. And the general rule in Japan is like, look at what everyone else is doing. And if you're, if they're doing it, too, then it's okay. And if not, then you better not do it. But, you know, someone needs to take the first step as well, which is the issue there.
Joe R. Lansdale 10:36
You know, the funny thing was, is during those two years, my career went up more than it's been climbing. I've been a very fortunate rider, it's just always been kind of like this, you know, once why a little bump, but it's always climbed. It's never it's never, you know, peaked out and fallen down, especially with someone I'm 71 years old. And a lot of times writers as they get older, they may, they may be doing okay, but they usually start going down, mine has been just the opposite. And during that time, I had a lot more success and sold a lot and made a lot of money that I didn't expect to make, because I thought you know, during this pandemic, I'm people are maybe not going to be buying books. And I think it was just the opposite. I think what helped was people were trying to find something to do, trying to find something to read. But, you know, I felt I found that I'm a three book a week guy most of the time. But I found during that time, I was reading less, I was trying to read more, but I was reading less. And I it was just sort of, again, that malaise I was talking about. But outside of that, you know, I think I came through with flying colors. And I think probably most people did in the long run. I hope so.
Michael David Wilson 11:49
Yeah. Yeah, I hope so too. And I mean, it's a you're reading about three books a week, I think last time we spoke to you, your writing was typically writing my about three hours a day kind of shooting for three to five pages. Sometimes it will be Yeah, it's still still the same routine
Joe R. Lansdale 12:11
is like today. I did. I did nine, you know, I got up and I did nine page. Yeah. And today's it varies, and I polish as I go. And so I read today, and you know, I've wrote it and I polished it as I went and I got through I got Okay, I got nine pages, I'm done. But Now what'll happen is I'll at least look at I'll get about halfway through. And I'll read it all over again. Well, now I'm about two thirds of the way through. So I'll just drive to the finish. And then I'll go to the first and give it like a touch up. But there won't be another draft. If there are other drafts that are done as I write, I don't believe in doing multiple drafts. For me. It makes everything I write worse. Yeah, I try to be readable. And I try to write in such a manner that I'm, I'm writing like I speak or someone like I speak a smarter version of how I speak. And so that's that's what I'm doing. As I as I write I'm trying to say, is this accessible to me? And does it seem like it's not stopping and trying to show out? But yet, is it somewhat poetic? Is it somewhat visual? You know? Is it like a painting and in scenes? Is it like a film in other scenes? Is it you know, does it have something underneath it? And that's that's all important to me. And some books vary more than others? Because it's it's, it's, you know, I hate to be caught up in to say, I've always got to write a serious book, or I've always got to write a comic book. So a lot of the times the books I write are actually all those things at once.
Michael David Wilson 13:41
Yeah, yeah, I would certainly say that is my experience from reading your work as well. And I mean, I remember when we spoke to you, and you told us about your kind of one draft and done kind of mentality. And I mean, obviously calling it one draft and done is a little bit disingenuous, because you're going over those pages a lot at the same time. But I did find that very,
Joe R. Lansdale 14:07
that's what I'm saying. I'm doing it as I go. Yeah, instead of like doing a complete draft, then going back to the person doing a complete draft going back. I don't do that. I get about halfway through I usually reread but it's mostly for momentum to make sure I haven't, you know, lost this the pacing. And so that's the thing I noticed the most when I get about halfway through, how's the pacing, and generally I'm pretty happy with it. But now and again, I'll cut that's the main thing. I'll do them I'll cut some things, but I just don't believe in all those multiple drafts, at least in the sense of, you know, completely doing a draft. So I just revise as I go. So I there's no way to really know, you know how much revision I've done, but an average novel for me is about four months, four months to six months, something like that. Some take longer. The moonlight took longer during the malaise so to speak, took longer so Oh, you know, it varies. It's that old thing about how long is a novel take as long as it takes?
Michael David Wilson 15:05
Yeah. Yeah, that's it. And, I mean, I yeah, I certainly like your method. And it's kind of inspired some of my drafts as well. And the way that I've gone about things, although I did get a little bit, I tripped up a little bit over the last year or so because then when I was working on one project, I had another one come in. So then I like to leave one kind of 50%. Right enough or and go back to multiple projects. Okay, yeah,
Joe R. Lansdale 15:38
I work on multiple projects. I have the main project, but then at the end of most days, not every day, I have one that I say, Okay, let's go look at that for about 10 or 15 minutes or whatever time, you know, if I were to just feel excited about noon, and I would work as long as I'd work, but it's just weird, I find that work about three hours, no matter what I do, once in a while, I'll come back in the afternoon or the evening, if I'm really excited. But most of the time that three hours is all my creative material. And like this morning, I spent, I don't know how much of my time two and a half hours maybe, and I don't measure it, I never look at the clock. It's just that when I get through it, it always comes out about three hours. And I finished up my nine pages. And I said, Well, I got the short story I've been playing with. So I wrote a couple of pages on that. And by that time I was I was spam.
Michael David Wilson 16:31
Yeah. I like that idea to you always give any kind of inspiration. And I
Joe R. Lansdale 16:38
write I'm never someone to say this is the way it's done. This is why I do it. You know, other people need multiple drafts, or they, they need a different approach. But, you know, multiple drafts just depress me and they make me feel that I don't know what I'm doing in the first place. And then I start feeling like I'm comparing this draft of this draft. And it just becomes a nightmare, you know, and so I just feel like, am I telling this story? Or am I not? And that's kind of the way I go at it, you know?
Michael David Wilson 17:06
Yeah, yeah. And it sounds like you have one main project at a time. And then like a little side project, whether it's like a novella or, or a short story.
Joe R. Lansdale 17:18
And I may work on, I may work on all two or three of them in the same morning, or I may spend all the mornings working on my main project, maybe once or twice a week out. I'll dip into something else, you know, but I've sold several short stories while I was writing this novel, you know?
Michael David Wilson 17:34
Yeah. Yeah. This novel lands in the donut Legion, or, like the one that you're working on right now.
Joe R. Lansdale 17:41
No, the one I'm writing right now, which is called sugar on the bones.
Michael David Wilson 17:45
That's capturing some images right there. What can you tell us if anything about sugar on the bones?
Joe R. Lansdale 17:52
Well, it's a half a letter novel. And I call it the reunion novel, because I'm bringing in a lot of people who have been major characters in you know, novels from time to time, or in the specific novels like Jim, Bob, Luke and vanilla ride and, you know, Hanson the detective Hanson is in it of course, and, and his wife, Rachel, and Vale, who is a character it's only appeared a couple of times, he appeared in a novella called Valles visit, and he was in captain's outrageous, he appeared in that, and he's sort of a, he's loosely based on my friend, Andrew Vax, who invented the character and wrote a story with me called vales visit and so I've just kind of kept the character in is kind of my tribute to him in a way and I just felt it was time to kind of bring everybody you know, get the band back together, so to speak. And I think this may be the last time I have everybody together in one book, you know?
Michael David Wilson 18:59
Yeah, so this is an absolute must then for happened Leonard fans, this is almost like the happen Leonard book for hardcore happened. Leonard fans, this is not not.
Joe R. Lansdale 19:13
It's a bigger story. You know, I've always used the happened linear books to experiment with different crime and mystery suspense concepts. Some of them are more this some of them are more that some of them are more a little more real. Some of them are a little more absurd, or whatever, because that's the way hap sees thing. I always think, how is he looking at this? How does he deal with this? And there's a sense there's a consistency about him, but there's also an attitude about him that can make something bigger than life are much more close to the bone. And so I tried to experiment with is this a heist, you know, kind of a heist novel, a mystery novel, an adventure novel? And so, to me, that's, that's a whole lot. Part of the fun is playing with different tropes. And when I'm really cooking, probably dealing with several different tropes at one time.
Michael David Wilson 20:08
Yeah, well, we've said it before, but the only kind of guarantee in terms of genre with your work is that it will be in the Joe R Lansdale genre. And that's it, you know? So always gonna kind of Yeah, yeah. And just having that freedom and flexibility. I mean, it's not only exciting for you, but it's exciting. For the reader, we don't know, you know, what are we dealing with until we start reading?
Joe R. Lansdale 20:38
Well, you know, I never could figure out what the reader wants. So I never really worry about that. It's not because I don't care. It's just I'm not smart enough to figure that out. But I know kind of what I won't. And so I write for me hoping that there are a number of people like me, that will be thrilled are interested in the same things. And of course, you can't be universally admired. But the idea is that you hope there are enough people that go, Yeah, I like this, that you can continue doing, what you're doing. And so far, it's been, you know, a knock on wood. It's been a fair and effective plan.
Michael David Wilson 21:14
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I didn't get would be a floor to write what the reader says that they want. Because sometimes, you know, we find that we didn't know what it was we wanted, you know, will be presented something and it's like, wow, this is the thing that I wanted to read that I had no idea that I did. So yeah, kind of reminds me with Neil Gaiman, when he's talking about writing advice. And if somebody if enough people look at your work, and they say, this is a problem with the work, then listen to that part. But if they tell you how to fix it, don't listen to that part.
Joe R. Lansdale 21:53
is right. That's exactly the way I think. I try not to listen to people much anyway. And it's not again, it's not caring, it's just that, you know, I have to just really not give a shit about your advice, when I'm writing, because then you become self conscious. And I've said it before I write, like everybody I know is dead. And I believe that's the way I have to approach it. That doesn't mean I don't care when I get finished with it, then I hope like hell, the reader likes it. You know, I, I find that you really can't tell much from reviews, reviews help. If you get good reviews, that makes you feel good. But if you believe the good ones, you got to believe the bad ones, I use the good ones for promotion, that's what they're for. And, you know, I ignore the bad ones for promotion. But it doesn't necessarily mean I believe the good ones any more than I might believe the bad one. So I tend to, if I get a really good one, I'll read it multiple times until it's just kind of words on paper, so that you don't start believing your own bullshit, or the bullshit that other people believe about you. You hope some of its true, because you know, you're still doing it, and people are going to buy your books. But this really isn't about that you can get so I know people get a bad review. And you know, they can't get out of bed. I don't understand that. Because, you know, I never took reviews personally. I mean, if somebody attacks you personally, that's a totally different thing. But most reviews are personal attacks. And, you know, you always meet there's always that special person that comes up. Yeah, I read your books, I don't like them. You know, and I always I makes me laugh. But I always think do you really, you really need to go out of your way to tell me you think I suck? You know, or I like that one. But the rest of that stuff. You're doing it, you know? But But generally speaking, you know, you just you have to write for you. You have to write because you love it. Money is a secondary issue, but it's a very important one. Don't get me wrong, I have to have money to pay my bills, and to keep riding. That's how I'm afford can afford to ride. I don't believe that in that whole artistic thing. It should be free. It should be paid for so I can keep doing it. You know, I like doing it. Is it hard? I don't know. You know, I know. It's what I'm writing. And people can make that decision for themselves. But, but to me, it's when I write I'm trying to write the story. I want to hear the story I want to know and hopefully that it will bring me
Michael David Wilson 24:23
money. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And, I mean, if I get bad reviews, then I don't take it personally either because everybody's taste is subjective. And it's like as long as I am getting some good reviews and some fans and you know, that's kind of what counts and that's I mean,
Joe R. Lansdale 24:44
you know, if you've gotten bad reviews from everybody, then you might want to pay attention. If you've gotten a good reviews from somebody you might want to make sure you don't, don't let that go to your head because pretty soon the books will begin to suffer. You know if if you're not trying to do better every time I'm out. And that doesn't mean that you're trying to beat the book you wrote before, because the book I'm donut Legion is nothing like Moon Lake and moonlight was nothing like more better deals, and more better deals was nothing like the elephant of surprise, our Jane goes north or any of the other books that I've done. But I tried to beat it in the sense that I try to write better, but not every book has the same intent. And for me, it's not about whether it's important or not, it's only if it's important to me at that particular time that I'm writing it, whether it's light, whether it's it's heavy, or a mixture thereof, you know? Yeah, and I think one of the things too, that's bad if you're, if you write humorously people always assume that it's not serious. And there's nothing more brutal than humor.
Michael David Wilson 25:50
Yeah, yeah, I'm saying and, I mean, it doesn't matter how serious you know, your work is you're gonna have some humor in that is part of your personality that is part of the fabric, we know that we'll do our Lansdale we're getting comedy, it might be pitch black comedy, but we're still gonna get it and we are gonna get some of the most brutal and brilliant kind of metaphors and alliterative language, I mean, in the donut Legion, you know, walk in like the Pillsbury Doughboy with a thyroid condition. That's the one that like, I can't get out of my head. It was such a perfect image there. It's like, I mean, the Pillsbury Doughboy in and of itself, is pretty damn good. But then it's slightly, let's slap a little bit on the end of that with a thyroid condition. That is, that is the space that is the seasoning to really give it his punch.
Joe R. Lansdale 26:51
Appreciate that, you know, it's what humor is one of those things that is the most dark and cutting thing that you can do, really, if you do it, right. And sometimes it can be funny, but nobody was funnier than Mark Twain and nobody was more biting than Mark Twain. Because he said once there's no humor in heaven, meaning that humor is always designed to be dark and evil in one sense, or most of it is very little humor is not about somebody's discomfort, embarrassment, or pain. There are other kinds of humor, but they usually in some way, if you really look at them carefully kind of track back to that same sort of thing. And I think that that was an interesting and probably accurate observation.
Michael David Wilson 27:37
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, if there's no humor in heaven, and it sounds like the most interesting people are gonna be in house.
Joe R. Lansdale 27:46
Yeah. And I'm an atheist, so I'm not I'm not looking at it in that same sense. Yeah. So was Twain or he was certainly agnostic, but but he used the term terms, God and Heaven and Hell in a way to make for his era especially to make commentary because he definitely was no fan of, of religion.
Michael David Wilson 28:09
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think most kinds of thinkers kind of generally, at the very least have a criticism of the religious systems even if they believe in a god they don't believe often in organized religion, which is actually going to tie us pretty soon into the doughnut Legion because
Joe R. Lansdale 28:35
now George Carlin said about God has this place where that if you don't do what he expects you to do and perform in the way he expects you and that he's got these commandments that you are to follow you're gonna go there and you're gonna burn you're gonna cook forever you're gonna be it's just this horrible, horrible thing but yet he loves you and to me, that is the most obvious makes it just the obvious bullshit that it really is. And I you know, I have nothing against people that want to believe it if they want to, you know, to me, it's it's sort of like being a grown up that believes in the Easter Bunny and Christmas. And the Santa Claus is common, you know, are for that matter, Jesus. So to me, it's all the same stuff. And it doesn't matter the religion and in one way all religion is a cult. Some of it is just more benign than other others. And you know, how benign is it is another question, but it's funny how they always need more money, which is not taxable. You know, if we only had Jesus was all it was all it was all about charity, but I'll tell you one damn thing evangelists aren't. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 29:45
Yeah, that's true. So you recently released the donut lead yen. So I know. To begin with, let's talk about how that project came about.
Joe R. Lansdale 29:58
One of the things about Probably one of the major things is all of this strange attraction to conspiracy theories that's going on now, and how serious it is, and how what a phenomenal number of people have engaged themselves in some of the most moronic bullshit, but But you know, I think what it is, is all of these different cults that are going on all these different beliefs Q and on these things about lizards that are taken from outer space that are taken over, and people are, you know, used to you see this, and it was some fringe group that probably couldn't put on their pants properly in the morning. But now it's all these people who would otherwise live their lives normally. But they go home, get on their computer and worry about who's a lizard and who's not. They worry about Q anon they worry about all the special messages that are hidden. And it just, you know, amazed me and the more I thought about it, the more disturbing it became. And you know, the book, some people look at and go, Oh, that's pretty funny. But it's really not that funny, because a lot of that stuff is real. And among the largest number of cults are these that are tied to science, fictional concepts of aliens coming down, rescue us and tying Jesus and aliens together. And I mean, and this isn't new, but the enormity of the sorts of belief systems has just boomed. I mean, you know, we've had them with Athens gate, which was a total waste of Nikes. And you have all of this stuff that just constantly keeps happening. And you think it's getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and people are believing it more and more and more, because they it's like a soap opera for their lives, they've got nothing going on in their lives that matter to them. So why not embrace this thing. And even if they don't believe it, they get involved in it. But I think that the number of people that believe it are amazing. I've talked to some people and I was just like, really? You mean, lizards? Right. So I think all that was on my mind when I started writing the book, I also wanted to play with this idea that a lot of these kinds of cults are disastrous. I mean, even if you go back and look at Jim Jones, you know, they build up people, and they start out kind of in a positive thing. And then pretty soon, it's like power. And you know, I'm screwing your wife and whoever I want to, because I'm the guy, and people are going, Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, it sounds good. And, you know, I keep wondering what the hell, you know, people that, like I said, you hear him talk, do you think this is a person with a degree a person with common sense in everything else, but they've embraced this moronic idea, for whatever reason? And I certainly, I think the people who do this to them are highly responsible and should be, you know, I guess tagged for that. But there's another side of me that thinks you know what, that's best pretty damn dumb. It's not like you're mentally deficient, you have chosen to be one of the happily stupid, you've chosen to embrace something that under normal circumstances, you would know was bullshit. But you're not, not willing to use common sense. And one of the things I remember specifically was a group, I can't remember the guys name right now, he had a kind of unusual name. But he had a radio show, and he had this religious audience. And he told him, the end of the world is coming, because, you know, he had figured out all the mathematical equations, and these people went out and sold all their goods into their pants, you know, putting our put their money into signs that said, you know, this is the end. And this is what, you know, you better repent, because they all thought they were going to be snatched out of their clothes and pulled up to heaven, you now. And they literally gave up on life because they were so happy this date was coming. And it came and nothing happened. So we thought, well, I guess I fucked up on the decimal point. And so he went back in and reworked it and gave him gay, and of course, nothing happened. He said that, I guess I didn't know. And here's people whose lives he had destroyed. I saw one recording where a guy called in and said, You destroyed my life, and you know what? The guy did? But guess what? You really embrace something that makes no fucking sense.
Michael David Wilson 34:30
Joe R. Lansdale 34:32
you gotta be. You gotta take some credit for being an emphasis. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 34:36
Yeah. And there's so many instances of different religions and code saying something cool happen on X date, and then it never fucking happens. And they're like, Well, I guess the timing gets a little bit off. I mean, I knew someone who was an I presume, still is a Jehovah's Witness. And he was saying, like, you know, Jesus has come mean back to work, and that's gonna happen about the year 2000. You know, that's when we've calculated it. And then the year 2000 comes in, he's like, oh, you know, is about 2000. I mean, now, like, you know, in mathematics and things, it's like, sometimes like the 10% rule, but we're now past the 10% rule or so. Why did they get
Joe R. Lansdale 35:25
what they do? And, you know, I mean, it's where are you finding any math? Do let alone that you're doing math? You know, that makes no sense. First of all, you know, yeah, but anyway, why all those things came together. And I think that, you know, and the idea that all East Texans are like, that is not true at all. I mean, I'm criticizing a whole group of people who have embraced this sort of thing. And across the US. And, you know, they're certainly sensible people, but they're not the ones you're exploring when you're writing. So it doesn't mean that you said, there's no money sensible, but that's not the story. That's not who you're talking about. And so all of that kind of came together for me. And I wanted to write it in such a way that I could bring East Texas characters into it, and see how they dealt with this particular idea. And, you know, I let it go. Pretty wild. But when I was reading about some of these cults, I was, oh, geez, I'm not that wild. You know, Jim Jones, all those people didn't actually drink poison, they were forced to drink some of them, because they had enforcers all these groups ended up with enforcers, you know, and I got to thinking about what's an enforcer like, and that's how I came up with a character called cowboy and a chimpanzee that he dressed up in outfits. And I didn't find that nearly as wild as people felt. Because, you know, I'd also read there, and this this horrible incident where our lady had a pet chimpanzee. And on his birthday, they had a birthday cake and everything else. And it just tore her face off all of a sudden, literally tore her face off, pulled her hands off. These animals are incredibly powerful. And I just thought, you know, this could go wrong for everybody involved. And so all of those things I had been reading about and to come across just came together and one big stew.
Michael David Wilson 37:22
Yeah. Yeah. Do you think in terms of these kinds of science fiction codes, do you think it was Scientology? And L. Ron Hubbard that kind of kicked that off? I mean, it feels like certainly, that was the first really, really mainstream one. But I'm not sure if there was a lot of time kind of thing going on before?
Joe R. Lansdale 37:45
I think so too. Yeah, I think that's it. I think also, and I don't think they're responsible. But I think Star Trek and the sort of people who became so enamored with it, just as an entertainment, wanted to embrace some kind of idea that fit there, that there was a group of super, you know, intelligent people out there, that were traveling through the through the universe, to right wrongs, and to help people. And I, you know, I'm not directly blaming Star Trek, but I'm saying that a lot of people grew up on science fictional ideas more than I did. I mean, I've loved science fiction, it's important to me, but I mean, it wasn't in the air all the time, you weren't having people that were embracing spaceships and things, you're flying saucers, you started hearing about those in the 50s. Really, I mean, there was very little before that some random event or something. But I believe, I believe that we created a different way of thinking we allowed people to embrace those ideas, which is good, you know, you want to embrace any kind of idea and study it and think about it. And I think it helped make space travel more realistic, and all that. But I think that for some people, it was just such a wonderful thing to consider that they considered it all the way down to the bone. You know, and I again, I'm not blaming those things, being a science fiction fan myself. And I remember Star Trek and watching it and thinking, wow, there's nothing like this has ever been anything like this on TV. Now, the commercials have more science fiction in them than than we used to get on television. But I think we created an atmosphere where that's more easily embraced, you know, the lizards that are out there? I mean, I think of what is that one they live, where they have the glasses, and you put the glasses on and you can see what people really look like. And a lot of that is just science, fictional ideas. And science fiction is not to blame, but that people want to embrace that. Because their lives they, you know, they look at it and they say, Well, you know, my life isn't like these people on the reality shows. I'm not living high on the hog. I'm not, you know, having all of these impressive. ventures with money and clothes and all that kind of shit. But then again, the people on the reality shows aren't living a reality life either. They're living a scripted life
Michael David Wilson 40:10
now. Yeah, yeah. And I mean, it's the same with social media as well, like people see some photos on Instagram that have been perfectly curated. And then they get really depressed because their life isn't like that. And it's like, neither is the life of the people literally in the photo. It's a stage, it's performative.
Joe R. Lansdale 40:33
It is it is all a Yeah, it's performance art. That's exactly what it is. I mean, you know, you see, you see all these shows where these people live in these, these lives, or are even worse, they're having constant arguments with themselves and their, with their group. I mean, they're like, arguing over things. And all that's even fake. I mean, and I think two more people say, well, I should be more confrontational. And that's why you see these people now that are in and I'm not blaming that alone. But it's why you see these people in the Congress that are having these absurd ideas, these crazy what, like green, you know, that lady, she, you know, she's, she's not playing with a whole sack of marbles. You know, she, and I'm some of it, she knows it's bullshit. But what she's doing is she's trying to throw as much bullshit as she can add there and see what sticks to the wall, you know, what will work for, and I've just never seen this kind of thing. You know, you always had people in Congress that weren't worth a shit, or was trying to, you know, manipulate and all that, but there was at least some kind of decorum, even if it was fake. But now these people, they don't care if you think they're an idiot, they just don't care, there's, we need to go back and have a little more shame and guilt again, you know, because these people, they aren't shamed, they aren't guilty. And in fact, that's become the norm. And it's actually even become an example of how people want to be and a lot of that reality shows reflects what people are thinking, this is what, what I want to be, I want to be this kind of person that's always disruptive, that I put me on camera puts me up front, because I'm being disruptive, you know, so it's a combination of stuff. But anyway, all of those things came together on me to write that book. And a lot of that was sitting around during COVID. And it's all brewing in the back of your mind all of these things, and you're focused on whether you ought to be or not, because everyone else is, and you're seeing it from not only an entertainment, but you're seeing it in Congress, and you're seeing it in all of these stupid conspiracy theories. So I don't feel like I had any choice but to write the book.
Michael David Wilson 42:42
Bob Pastorella 42:43
yeah. Yeah, it's, it's, it's strange, because, you know, I remember growing up, we and I'm sure everyone's seen it, you know, the National Enquirer. And you know, and those those type of tabloids, and it's, uh, it's like, you know, you have bad boy, and you know, and Elvis was an alien, and, and, you know, and all these things, and you see these, these, these people now that it's like that, I went down, I went to school with, I went to school with these people, and we used to laugh about that stuff. Yeah. And they're caught up in this stuff. And it doesn't matter if it's lizard people are cute on our flat Earth. And, you know, and I tried to disarm them with humans, like, Hey, man, if the Earth was flat in a flat, because a cat would have knocked us all off of it by now, you know? So there's no way that you know, but it's almost like you can't reason with them. And then, you know, think back, it's like, hey, you know, I fell into my own conspiracy theory with with the JFK assassination. Now I was, you know, and I spent I spent a lot of money and time on books and, and reading, you know, all the literature I could find, and ordering books online. I mean, I have like, a whole little like a shrine library dedicated to this stuff. And it was just, you know, so many so many things. You know, Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, you know, Jack Ruby was involved. And it's like, after a while, man, it's like you you you start to realize that you fucked up about some shit and in you know, if you if you're if you're a rational mind, you, you literally have to claw your way out of that stuff. And you have to come to the conclusion that no, I'm kind of, I'm thinking I'm fucking wrong about a lot of this shit. And I think that now that we had these people who have like you said, they have no guilt, they have no shame. They can't admit that they're wrong. They would rather be wrong than it did admit that they are wrong. And when you when you try to shame these people, they their responses, is it is a violent outburst of, you know, you know, it's like I have a customer who's Kuhn on. It's like, and now he's fuck with this guy because he's such an easy target. It's like having dates that they changed already about everything. Then does that bother you? That then you had it like a deadline for something and then it passed that? Well. Then that's how they can say, Yes, I get that point right there. I'm kind of like, okay, I'm done with, you know, having a normal conversation. It's fucking stupid. You're right. It's stupid.
Joe R. Lansdale 45:38
Right. And you used to it was fun. Because some conspiracies you could explore for the fun of it, not necessarily because you believed it or disbelieve it. But just because you thought, What is this? Like the one with JFK, you can see how that can can be established how people can go there. But some people get so caught up in, you know, and I'm one of those guys who did it Oswald. And I always went out, you know, when you go to the place where it happened, and you stand there go, he could have done that easily. And when his brother said, yeah, he always wanted to be famous, you know, and, but even if there are other things to it, it's there's a difference in thinking about that sort of thing. And maybe somebody will find something that I don't know. But those kinds of conspiracies, to me seem more more harmless than the ones that are trying to dictate to people, you know, how they should live and what's going on, and that the aliens are coming, or they're here. Or guess what, Trump is still in the White House disguised as Joe Biden. Now, that's one of my favorites, you know, that that Trump is still in the White House disguised as Joe Biden. And that people have seen Trump walked by the window. You know, it's just bizarre shit. And nobody even questions it. You know, don't even question it. Just go. I mean, when I say nobody, we're obviously are but I mean, the people that have embraced it, they just go Yeah, that makes sense.
Bob Pastorella 47:05
Or are they?
Joe R. Lansdale 47:08
Sad thing? Yeah. John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Unknown Speaker 47:12
Yeah, he's coming back. Yeah. As if
Joe R. Lansdale 47:14
he would be on their side.
Bob Pastorella 47:18
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That's crazy. And it's just it's like, to me, I feel like it's gotta it's gotta reach a point where that somebody's somebody's up at the top of this, of this food chains. Gotta go, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, remember, we're way wrong. We need to we need to quit this. But it's like, every day they taught themselves. It's like, man, it's like it's getting crazier.
Joe R. Lansdale 47:44
Well, you know, like the McCarthy era. When eventually, you know, the thing is, there were there weren't communists that exist. And so a guy goes, well, what if we just make everybody a communist? And there are all these people trying to take over the government. And so you know, McCarthy started calling everybody a communist. And, and finally, somebody just said to him, Have you no shame. Well, the problem is now, no, they don't have any shame that changed things right there. Because other people looked at when Yeah, that's pretty, pretty dumb. We should have seen that before. Well, now doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. I mean, here's what here's the best one. Just recently, the people on Fox News, people like Tucker, Carlson and Hannity. All said, Yeah, we knew Trump lost the election. We knew that we thought he was an idiot. You know, we hate him. We think he's, you know, a terrible person. But our, our viewers won't realize they won't realize, and all of this is out in the open now. And Fox is silent, because people are watching it with greater determination than ever before. And, you know, all of the news that I find out all the 24 hour news is got plenty of bullshit with it. But here's these guys that would just say, let's say that Trump won the election, and that these machines were faulty. And that there were, you know, a lectores who cheated Trump, let's just put all this together. And then when they get called in and go, now, that wasn't true, we're just doing that. It has no effect. It has no effect. There is nothing like Have you no shame, because they have not
Michael David Wilson 49:32
so true. Yeah. I wonder too, if, you know, people from small towns are more attracted to coats and conspiracies. And I wonder if now with the rise of the Internet and technology and social media, if the answer to that is perhaps different now than it may have been, let's say 10 or 20 years ago.
Joe R. Lansdale 49:57
Yeah, I mean, the biggest problem I started with 24 hour news. And when it began to go from news to everybody's opinion, and you can see opinions on the same thing from the time you get up in the morning, till the time you go to bed, and they're the same subject, just 20 Different people discussing the same problem from their perspective. And you can see that so much that you begin to think that this is really important and valuable, because it's open 24/7 I don't have any news channels, I cancelled all of you know, I read the news. And I tried to keep even open minded there, you try to use read The New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times are and you know, they're going to vary to everybody. There's always that but there used to be in journalism, this idea that you were supposed to just say what happened, not what you think happened because of, and that's what what is turned to and that's because for 24 hours, you got to put something on the TV, you got to keep people interested. And you got to you got to always make it breaking news. It's always got to be something awful on the horizon, because good news, puppies and stuff like that people love to look at him, but it doesn't really sell the news. You know, what sales the news is people die in? Or are people in conspiracies are, you know, people are doing this or so on and so on. And 24 hour news was the beginning of all of this. And I don't know where it's gonna go from here. I don't know if we can ever go back to common sense. And it scares me. It really does. It scares me. I like to think somewhere deep inside that somebody will go one day, just like, like you were saying a while ago is that they'll go hey, this is this is this doesn't make sense. You got to stop this. But who would that be? You know, even the president. It's been ruined. I mean, he was never, you know, I'm gonna believe the President absolute, because he's there selling the viewpoint. But with Trump, it no longer there's nothing to be certain about anymore, at least from from the viewpoint of people like him, you know, what is what does that mean? You know, how has that changed things? And I think he's changed things terribly. And it's another thing that, you know, it's in the book, too. It's underneath, and it's undercurrent, but, you know, all those things. And and because all those things are so grim, in some ways, is why the book is so funny, or is funny.
Michael David Wilson 52:27
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's two kinds of conspiracies and codes that certainly spring the most to mind with the doughnut, Legion. And I mean, the first one, which is lighter is I wondered, did pizza gate in any way inspired the donut shop?
Joe R. Lansdale 52:47
Yes, certainly did. I always thought that that and you know, what was weird? The guys who will I would just go into check from us. Our smile said, Oh, that's all right. Go ahead. You know, God came with a gun. There's a guy that, you know, just 10 years ago, certainly 20 They to put in jail. They to put in jail, put him under the jail thrown away the key and shit on the ground from which he stood. And now he just goes to the house go well, that's a logical thing to do. I mean, he was curious, that, you know, maybe there was a sex ring going on under the pit under the pizza shop, which has no fucking basement. So it's completely, you know, make sense?
Michael David Wilson 53:27
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, why specifically a donut shop have all the kind of food establishments you could have gone for?
Joe R. Lansdale 53:38
Yeah, donut shops have become popular everywhere, but we have a lot of them. And there was a there was a small conspiracy here with doughnuts in that the person was that was running a donut shop. A Cambodian a gentleman was bringing in people from Cambodia with promises and pretty much just putting them to work. And not that, you know, they didn't have any way to go out on their own and speak the language. And eventually, he served some time in prison. And he was buying up all the sugar. So everybody had to kind of work for him directly or indirectly. And so that came together with it too. But I just thought it was much better to tie it to the cult, and make it this you know, this bigger moment in this small town. But a lot of the stuff in it is made out of real events. I read a couple of books on cults, and when I got through with them, I went wow, wow, people get losing their whole life savings to these cults like that when I was telling you about the fucked up arithmetic. You know, he's telling you that, you know, it's going to end on this day and these people are taking their money and, and not giving it to him. He was you know, at least he wouldn't do in that but he was encouraging them to like buy this the signs that said you know, the in times are coming and you need to repent and have, you know, he was, at least in his own mind absolutely certain that he was a master mathematician who had figured this out. And, you know, that was that was really a big, big impact for me was just thinking that he had done that to people, and that people had let him do it to them.
Michael David Wilson 55:19
Yeah. Yeah. And of course, that the second thing that comes to mind and you know, much more serious is, of course, Waco and David Koresh. And I'm wondering, you know, that
Joe R. Lansdale 55:34
was there. What,
Michael David Wilson 55:35
what was the? Yeah, I mean, what what was the impact for you at that time? Because, obviously, but Bofur you were living in Texas, so I'm not sure that I've ever, you know, asked somebody about the kind of living in Texas perspective.
Joe R. Lansdale 55:51
Well, I didn't live in Waco, which we used to call wacko, because it was always a little different. But the thing about that I have no sympathy for Quraysh absolutely zip Nunn, my sympathies with the kids and the children that were there that he was abusing, and also that were killed because his parents were morons, their parents were morons. So it's again, it's back to out he owes. He owes a lot to being responsible for this. But so to the people who embrace this, and even the people who gave him their children, and said, Yeah, sex with him is alright, because he's obviously Jesus are of Jesus or of God, or however, that was interpreted by them. So that was there too. And this whole thing is that this always happens when these people know that in one way or another, they're going to be exposed when Jim Jones realize he can't live up to what he has said, when Koresh realizes he can't live up to what he said, when the guy with Heaven's Gate realizes that, you know, they're actually not coming with a Hale Bopp comet, and that we're instead of going physically now we're going to go of our souls by you taking poison and putting a plastic bag over your fucking idiot head. And so to me, it always ends in this gigantic disaster. And so that's how it ended. In the book, although it's I'm not going to say how the real end is. But I mean, that was the inclination that these people have, they always have these inclinations, because they know at some point, the game is up, you know, that I can't deliver on that flying saucer, or I can only redo my math so much before they're gonna go over to another group, you know. So that's also very scary when you think about it. And it's why so many of these religious cults scare me, because some of them start outs, you know, the Jim Jones thing started out trying to give equal rights to black people, and, you know, trying to make sure that everybody was taken care of, and then it graduated to he was a power. And so if you have somebody that really is in these things for power, then it's just going to become worse over time. Because they gain more power, they gain more people who respect them, and believe in them, and so gradually that that will often turn from let's help these people to abuse.
Michael David Wilson 58:22
Yeah, yeah, it's so scary. And I think, as well, you know, like, they might initially start to preach like a kind of message of love and peace, but I mean, surely at the point, and one would assume before then, but where Koresh is negotiating with the FBI, and then releasing people two at a time, it's like, well, that doesn't sound like a religion of love, because you're literally keeping all your people within that compound. Something has gone wrong, I think,
Joe R. Lansdale 58:57
Legacy of that is that they wanted to make up the FBI another morning to make a big show of what they were doing, instead of just waiting for him to come to town because he did and just grabbing you know and so in many ways their mistakes were way but even so, to me, it's all its own Qureshi his head.
Michael David Wilson 59:16
Now Yeah, yeah, definitely, definitely. But I mean, what what is, and we may have touched on this, what is the most bizarre conspiracy theory you've ever had?
Joe R. Lansdale 59:31
I don't know. They're all bizarre to me. And some way Scientology is, you know, I think it is because it's been so successful, and was invented by a science fiction writer that told people he was going to invent a religion and was supported by a number of people who should have known better, you know, for at least for a brief time, Robert Heinlein. And certainly John Campbell, who was a direct I mean, the editor of I'm astounding before it became analog. And there were a number of other, you know, ven vote and people like that, who had this whole idea that was essentially a science fiction idea that Hubbard looked at and said, You know what, Writing is hard work. But lying is easy. And if you can invent something, you can see and sell it, you've always got a product, it's always there, you're not going to sell out, it's not going to, you know, quit being in existence, because it's, it's the, it's the bullshit product. It's that thing that does not exist, that you can keep telling people does exist, and that you need to follow it because it's concerned with you. And you know, the Scientology has a whole lot of science fictional aspects to it, you know. And, to me, what makes it the scariest is because it's so successful, and then it has so much power, it has so much money. You know, it's not even like this guy that had the coat with the, you know, the bad arithmetic. That was one thing that was scary, because it was just so obvious. But this other stuff, the Scientology stuff is really scary to me. And I've dealt with a few people in Scientology, and I find it you know, amazing how they embrace these ideas to fucking cans that, you know, they're gonna tell you, how developed you are, or how, how well you have come along, so to speak. And you know, and then you got people like Tom Cruise and people like this, promoting it. That's why it scares me. It's got more power than the general culture. And it is a cult.
Michael David Wilson 1:01:37
Yeah. Yeah. I wonder with people like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, it's like, do they actually believe in this? Or are they just profiting off it? And I guess, you know, that's a difficult one to really. Yeah.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:01:52
You know, if you profit off of it, you tend to believe it. And the people that I do feel sorry for, are those people that are born into these cults and have no opportunity to question them, at least not easily. And you know, when you do see people that break out from these cults, and that have been in those them all their lives, and you hear their stories about actually disband. Pretty much work slaves, they have the ship that they go on to, like, go out, and they're cleaning the ship all the time. And they're doing this and they're doing that, and they sign on for what is it 1000 years or, or something like that, you know, and it's just amazing how people will use other people for power and money. And L. Ron Hubbard, that's all he was about. And he never really had a place he stopped, he stated see all the time, because no one could go accuse him of doing a particular thing, own land where he could be arrested. And so he was out there at sea, you know, right. And he was supposedly he didn't have these problems, because he did this or he did that. And of course he did. It's like the lady that had what was a Christian Science? You know, she had, she had all these different problems, these physical problems that she said, did not exist, as long as you believed that they didn't, and that you could pray these things away. What was Scientology, borrow that and put it together with science fiction? And there you go.
Michael David Wilson 1:03:20
Yeah. We're in the dinette lead. Gen, you've got the protagonist, Charlie Garner. And I mean, what was it like writing as an author? And did you have any challenges or concerns? You know, I mean, we spoke before about writing what you know, this was really writing what you know. Yeah.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:03:43
Well, I made him a different kind of writer than I am, though. He had different kinds of work habits that weren't that good. He was, yeah, moderately successful. He was working on some nonfiction stuff. But I didn't want him to have the exact same pattern I had. And so I borrowed from a friend that I know and how he works and how he's gone about his, his career. And I just thought, well, you know, I want to do that. But again, it is what I know. I know that from listening to other people. I know, when I started, I didn't work like I do. Now. I learned to work like I do now. Because those other methods didn't work for me. You know, and those same methods may well work for someone else, but I was still writing what I know. I don't think you ever really get away from writing what you know, I'm a believer in it. I think it's stuff that you've learned things you've read things you've experienced, you know, you you can write outside of your immediate concerns, but you're still expressing some aspect of yourself anytime you do it, you know.
Michael David Wilson 1:04:46
Yeah. Yeah. And of course, I mean, Charlie is then paired up with handed the muscle in the sense of his brother Felix, and then, Amelia or Also known as scrappy, who has a lot to love about Amelia and maybe we'll talk about that,
Joe R. Lansdale 1:05:06
after preppy do not to be confused. Scrappy do.
Michael David Wilson 1:05:09
Yeah. Yeah, that's it. You were very clear about that throughout.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:05:19
Well, you know, I liked the idea that she was very smart, but she was eccentric. You know, she was, she was a little odd. And I think that Charlie had mixed feelings about that at first. But I think that he found her fascinating, you know, and founder, interesting, and I mean, she even had was set she had the alphabet, you know, we're going to work certain alphabet, like, we're going to do a and Beneba man, don't touch an F or a D, or whatever it was, then later, they ended up trying that, and you never know what they are. But you know, you can fill that in with your imagination, and scrappy his viewpoint on life, as you know, is different than he is. And it's like, it pulls him out of this sort of malaise that he's in that over his ex wife over the fact that he's trying to establish this career. And I think his mother having been ill, you know, that's mentioned later, all those things are there for him all of those things. And when she comes along, she's different. She's different. And she somehow opens him up more as a person, even when she talks about her ant farm, you know, she had the ant farm, and she liked to imagine the little mailman come into the ant farm. And then, you know, all the ants died. And, you know, he said, Well, you know, you need to feed him, he said it was too late now, you know, she's seen it in the immediate sense, not in the way that he meant it. So just stuff like that. And that, you know, when you make a sandwich, you you need chips, wood, which I agree with, by the way, a sandwich goes with chips, that's all there is to it, you know, but there's all those kinds of things. And then I, and then Felix, his girlfriend, cherry was this kind of ruthless lawyer. But she was one of the ones that had, who's more logical, oral, but she's the one that believed in the ghost story. She took it as as literal as real, because she had had some experience like that herself, you know?
Michael David Wilson 1:07:13
Yeah. Yeah. And, I mean, I love the kind of comedy and the absurdity of like, the kind of sex parts just being referred to as letters from the alphabet. And I mean, it certainly avoids ever somebody saying like, Oh, well, you didn't do that SEC scene correctly. And I like the way that we can decide what is a B, C, and if we're so bold, we can even think a little bit about F. So
Joe R. Lansdale 1:07:46
when you look at some of these people like Jim Jones, they had these guys with guns and these these kind of, well, you know, this guy you got got a guy that was a sumo wrestler. You have another guy who was a football player go go. And, you know, he's he's kind of working for this group, because that's what he does, but he's still got a kind of feelings for for Felix and for them, you know, so he doesn't quite go the complete way. But, you know, you never really know where he stands not not really even in the end, you don't know exactly where he stands. And I thought it was good to have those contradicting characters and those characters that were hard to really know where they stood. And I felt that made it more interesting. I thought Felix showing how he could straighten out that that fire poker, you know, after it was bent, and you know, this whole display a macho ism. And a lot of that struck me from I got that idea from a Sherlock Holmes story. And I forget which one it is. It may be the Baskervilles I don't remember but this guy bends this far poker. And later Holmes picks it up and bends it back. And I thought, oh, that's kind of cool. Yeah, but I'm gonna use vertical that a new approach to that because I remember when I was reading it, I thought whoo Sure. Life's got some shit knock Moriarty off the Falls using Bharat by Ritsu which is a British form of, of self defense mixing jujitsu and boxing and, and the cane and things like that. I just thought you know, those were like cool little things about him that you didn't really know much about and that Watson didn't know much about because he was surprised when the guy just straighten that we wouldn't home straighten the poker and when, you know he defeated Moriarity using Mauritshuis. He said later, you know,
Michael David Wilson 1:09:49
yeah. Oh, yeah. And I mean, another kind of running gag is that this outrage towards people That would confuse a chimpanzee for a monkey. So I'm wondering, is that any kind of personal that that has came from?
Joe R. Lansdale 1:10:09
I don't like. And part of it is that I studied anthropology a little I never graduated. But I majored in anthropology for a while. And I was always fascinated with apes. And I was Jane Goodall kind of person. And so to me, you know, when people come into big monkey and everything, it always rubs me. Wrong. I'm not quite, you know, diligent about it as, as Charlie, you know. And the other thing is that I one of my favorite characters, in fact, my very favorite character, in the book is The dog is tag, you know, who ends up drugged up just like they are. In that scene where he eats the doughnuts, you know, they and I thought that whole idea about we're trying to resist the donuts and not being able to, I thought that's probably the probably thought, that looks like a pretty good, you know, so I have a lot of fun with that picture thing. And with the dog, you know, he was either what was it paddling, the river sticks, or tripping the light? Fantastic. They weren't exactly sure. You know, and I'd like to because I love dogs. I'm a, I'm a dog lover. And so it was a way of me putting a dog in the story and making him a major character. And if I write about the characters again, which I hope to, I've actually started another boom about him that I've got put aside, called the, the midnight stars, which would have all the same characters in it, you know, but it's a totally different kind of story.
Michael David Wilson 1:11:38
Oh, yeah. So how far through Have you got? We're not one, once they kind of progress a little bit. I'm
Joe R. Lansdale 1:11:45
doing the half a litre novel right now. And I'm almost finished. I got about 15,000 words or 20 to go? I don't know. Exactly. It'll be done when it's done. But it goes fast.
Michael David Wilson 1:11:57
Yeah. And when it comes to kind of, I guess, you, your publishing process for one of about a word is it typically a case of you just send it on to your agent have
Joe R. Lansdale 1:12:08
contracts and, and I have a memoir that I'm writing to that I've been asked to do. And I've sold it, and I'm a little behind on that when I have to admit, and I'm actually supposed to direct a film, if nothing blows. So between all the things I've got on my plate, I got a lot on my plight, and taking care of my, my family, you know, and everything. And so you got a lot going on. But if you don't have a lot going on, then guess what, you got nothing going on. So you got to do the best you can to put together and do it right? And treat people, right. And so, for me, I've got the book I'm working on now. And I have another one another contract after that, which I think will be the midnight stars will be the new Warner Brothers. And I have the memoir to do and then after that, I hope I have the film to direct if that doesn't blow, it's blown twice, once through COVID. But I can't really talk much about that other than to say the potential is, is looking good, you know right now. Plus, they're filming the thicket right now, or just this is the last week they finished Friday for the warm up Peter Dinklage and Juliette Lewis. And I don't know anything about it other than they're filming it. And I've got a couple of other things hanging fire that look very, very good. So we'll see how that shapes up.
Michael David Wilson 1:13:34
I'm so excited. And then so many things. Like, obviously, like, I want to be able to talk about this film that you're directing. But you know, I You just said you can't say any more about that. So well I
Joe R. Lansdale 1:13:49
can tell you this much is based on a story of mine called the projectionist. And my son wrote the screenplay, and it's a very good screenplay. And we have a tremendous amount of interest, financial interests and some acting interests of people that we want. So we have to wait and see if all of that congeals you know, and if it does, then we're off to the right. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 1:14:11
Yeah, there's so many moving parts with the film process, and I found so much can change very quickly as well. And the only time that you know, that you've got a film made is really when you're sitting down and you're watching it.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:14:26
Yeah, pretty much. You know, it's like when they did the happened linear television series. You know, it was their number one show for three seasons, and they canceled it. So you know, your logic is not always what films about because you have someone new come in, and they don't want it to be a success because someone else was before or they have a different vision. I mean, it could be a lot of reasons. But and then it goes to Netflix. It stays there for several years and does really really well and now it's moved again. It's moved to AMC plus, so that that thing survived But it's so funny, you know, you have the number one show and it's canceled. And, you know, if you get too caught up in this kind of stuff, you could you could feel miserable all the time. You can't do that. That's that's not the way it works. It's like James Purefoy. and I were talking and we both said the same thing. Hey, we got three seasons. We got three good seasons. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 1:15:19
Yeah. There's a very frustrating habit of a lot of my favorite TV shows getting canceled. Now, I haven't found down conspiracy theory. I don't believe it is personally connected to them being my favorite shows. But you know, I mean, it happened with archive 81, which was most frustrating, because then it just like kind of had a season. And yeah, same
Joe R. Lansdale 1:15:45
one. I liked it. It was very, very author making and it was very hard for making like, you know, is that oh, feeling? And I'm going oh, yes, it's great. What? Cancel? Cancel?
Michael David Wilson 1:15:57
Yeah. And, I mean, I mean, like, I, yeah, we've touched on this in previous conversations, too. But I think the problem is, as well, like these days, a lot of things are made with the assumption that it will continue. And so then with things like 81, it's like, we haven't wrapped up anything, he just canceled. And that's it,
Joe R. Lansdale 1:16:22
when they take your time away from you, and then they don't give you what they promise. You know, I think on all those things, if they get to the end, and people are it's popular, and they decide to kill it, they ought to at least give it two episodes. To wrap something up, you know. But yeah, yeah.
Michael David Wilson 1:16:37
Yeah. I mean, very occasionally, you will see a kind of spin off of a TV show where it's then like a kind of full length films. So it's like, yeah, give our KV one that 90 minutes. Let's see what can be done. But I mean, like, Gary did, did they can so Mindhunter, or is that just been kind of on hiatus for a long time?
Joe R. Lansdale 1:17:03
Well, I think I think, I think introduced did not have the time to to be involved with things. What I've read is that he just thought, Man, this is too much work. And I've got other things I want to do. And in fact, I was he did love death and robots, which I had three episodes. Oh, yeah. Two in the first season. One in the second season.
Bob Pastorella 1:17:23
Yeah, yeah. I read something recently, where he said that he was basically that it was a very expensive show. And then Netflix just was losing interest in it. He was very fortunate to get you know, what he what he got out of it. But he, he's, he's kind of moved on. But you know, to me, I understand people's obsessions, obviously. I mean, we're writers, we understand obsessions. So he may be done with mine Hunter, but I kind of hope that he's not done with BTK. Because if anybody could could present that story, it would be Zodiac. I don't think that anyone else could do it. Yes, yes.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:18:08
Yeah, that's, that's a great film. And Faust always fascinated me. Oh,
Bob Pastorella 1:18:11
yeah. He understands the dark side of human nature. And perhaps, you know, better than any of the modern filmmakers right now. And it's like, if you look at his work, he always has, like, really disturbing. Any focuses a lot on serial killers. And so yeah, I don't I would throw money down to see be a BTK. You know, stories? Yeah.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:18:35
I always, you know, people always ask me, they say, is there a filmmaker that you sort of feel connected with? And for me, it's the Coen Brothers, probably more than anybody else. You know, we have similar viewpoints on things and you know, we're each our own thing, but, but when, if I think of like, which guy is it's been a lot of times people will say, Quentin Tarantino, and I go, No, I don't think so. I think it's for me, it's the Cohens. I think that's what I'm, you know, could see myself connected to quicker than almost anybody.
Michael David Wilson 1:19:06
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I love Tarantino's films. But if I think of like offers and filmmakers in conversation, then yeah, like, I think, your work and the Coen Brothers, it goes together pretty well. And I'm sure you could give us a great metaphor for things that go together, but I think I think so. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I
Joe R. Lansdale 1:19:32
even felt more that way. When they did True Grit, you know, which is one of my favorite novels of all time by Charles Portis. And I just adore that novel. And I enjoyed the first film with John Wayne, but this one was so much closer to the book, in my viewpoint, and that it had that darker edge to it. And it ended, like the book, and the visuals were just awesome, you know, but a lot of the performances were very Very similar to the original ones, you know, with the villains, especially Barry Pepper. And and Robert Duvall were pretty much on the money with each other the way way that same was played, you know. And one of the things I thought was interesting the one scene where I really, Wang was just such a, you know, a powerful actor that you couldn't take your eyes off of. But he had that one scene where he said failure, your hands you son of a bitch. And when bridges did it, that's the one scene I thought he couldn't quite capture that that sort of undercurrent anger and humor that that Wang captured, but I love the I love the bridges version so much, and I love the Coen version, so much and, and I wish they had adapted more novels. It was cool to see them do their own work, of course, but I would like to have seen some of the interesting novels done I would like to say Norwood filmed it was filmed badly with Glen Campbell and Joe Namath in the parts. But I'd love to have seen the Cohen's tackle Babel, because that's one of the funniest novels I've ever read.
Michael David Wilson 1:21:11
Right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if you could work with the Cohens on any project to be it, like, adapting one of your own novels, or adapting another novel or writing something, you know, original what, what do you think that dream project would be?
Joe R. Lansdale 1:21:31
Jane goes north. And that's one of my books. Nobody hardly knows. I love that book. It is. It's a road novel with with two women who set out to drive to Boston for different reasons. And they ended up being partners, because they can't afford to go by themselves. And one of them Jane doesn't have a car and the stuff that happens to them. I think the Cohens could really make that work very, very well, you know, and so that would be the one for me, which is just it's just now being reprinted. So in paper and in the eat from paying the press, but I I would choose that one. Probably more than any other maybe freezer burn.
Michael David Wilson 1:22:16
Yeah. Is Jane goes north. Has that been reprinted now? Is it available to buy? Or is it coming out to me? Yeah, imminently.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:22:24
It's about to bid. Yeah, it's been advertised so soon.
Michael David Wilson 1:22:28
Yeah. So cool. Okay, you go everyone listening and watching. You've got to go out and buy it anchors, as Joe says, is one of these kind of underrated novels. So we're all reading it now. I
Joe R. Lansdale 1:22:40
think it's my most underrated novel. Yeah, it's unusual. It's unique. And it's not a crime novel. It's, it has crime in it. But it's not a crime novel. And it's not, you know, a fantasy novel, but it is an offbeat novel. And I think it's very funny, you know, and it kind of depends, I guess, on your sense of humor. It's, it's darkly funny, but it's kind of uplifting to, you know, and I'm proud of it. It's one of my favorites of my books, you know, probably my top 10. If I were putting a 10 together of my own work, you know, if you could be so audacious sisters. Oh, that's my top 10.
Michael David Wilson 1:23:24
Yeah, well, I mean, I think you've written enough and well enough to if anyone is allowed to be as audacious as us. So I'm giving you permission to, to do that. Not that you fucking need my permission or anyone's permission to do anything. But it's granted.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:23:42
I've had a delightful career. Yeah, I've really loved my life. I've loved what I've done. My wife and I have had such a wonderful life because of variety. We traveled all over the world. We've met all kinds of people. We've met all kinds of politicians and actors and writers and people that do common, everyday jobs, just like I grew up doing. You know, I'm a blue collar guy. Now working, I guess you'd call writing a white collar job. But I approach it like a blue collar guy. That's a little bit lazy. I don't have to do eight hours a day. Yeah. But you know, some of the day dealing with puppets, dealing with editors dealing with producers dealing with directors dealing with this and that. So you know, there's more to it than that. But the actual writing itself is about three hours. And that's daily. The other things aren't always daily, but it's been it's just been a wonderful life. And my kids have gotten into it and my son has had a couple of films made from his screenplays are Co Co written screenplays and one he wrote himself and he and my my daughter has had numerous short stories and she's a professional singer, songwriter, and you know that they both amaze me at all the things that they've managed to do. You know,
Michael David Wilson 1:25:00
yeah, and I mean, talking about your daughter that kind of brings me on to the audiobook version of the donut Legion. So I mean, both you and Casey are part of the cast who have done that. And like, I mean, it is like a good cast and a really fantastic production. And is this the first audio book that you've been writing your own work on? No, I mean, no, no,
Joe R. Lansdale 1:25:32
no, I, there were two versions of sunset and sawdust. And when a lady did it, which made sense, you know, the main character was female, but it wasn't in first person. So I did a version of it. I did the abridged version, which is strange. But that's what I ended up doing. I've done a number of short stories. I've done a lot of readings, people are always saying, why aren't you doing the readings? Man, we love to hear you do it. And I like doing it. But as I get older, I don't I'm not as eager to spend the time doing it. I mean, I got paid for doing it. And that was great. But I would probably do another look, again, I think, you know that this whole thing with other people play in different parts? I've never done something like that. And I don't know how fond of it I am. Because I generally like the one reader to do the book. Because and, you know, the truth is I usually I listened to some of the books does, okay, how does this guy sound or this woman sound? Or whoever it is? Do I want them to do the next one, that sort of stuff. But I have a hard time getting through an audio book, you know, I oftentimes listened to enough to know that they're good. And then that's it, I quit. Yeah, because I like the voice in my head, you know, that the voices that I create, because good good writing creates 50% of the story right here, you know, you suggest certain things, and you create the rest of it. And I think that's a difference between a good book and a mediocre one. A mediocre one doesn't allow you to create it, because the imagery of what you're reading isn't stimulating your mind in some kind of poetic visual manner.
Michael David Wilson 1:27:11
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, whose idea was it to put this one out? As a full cast?
Joe R. Lansdale 1:27:19
Mohan? Mohan? My publisher? I think, I think they'd heard me read, you know, and I thought, Well, this guy on the dash, you know, but it's still it's a different thing when you're working with different actors, because you don't know, you know, you're not seeing everybody doing their thing. You're reading your part, and then come back and add some other part. And then they add this person, Casey played two different roles. In the, in the book, write a couple of characters. And Brad Sanders, who is an absolutely wonderful reader. It has a small part in it too, you know. So it was interesting. I'll say that. I've not heard it at all. I haven't heard any of it.
Michael David Wilson 1:27:59
I, I listened to some of it. And I know, yeah, I know that it was very well put together I guess, like a little bit like you I'm sometimes reluctant to go for the kind of forecast. It's like, if I'm gonna listen to an audio book. I do prefer just like, kind of one read. But I have to admit me, too. I think it worked. I think it worked really well. Actually.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:28:23
A lot of people go, this is what they won't they like different and it's easier for them to get into it. So I accept that. So you know, either way, whatever.
Michael David Wilson 1:28:32
Yeah, well, I'm, I mean, whatever is gonna sell those books for you. If it's gonna sell more, more copies, then okay, let's do it. And that's wrong.
Joe R. Lansdale 1:28:46
That's right. You know, you want to do everything as well as you can. That's it.
Michael David Wilson 1:28:51
Yeah. Yeah. Well, you got a couple of questions from Patreon. So the first one is from Robert Stahl. He says, I think I can speak for many of the writers who follow you on Facebook, when I say we appreciate the writing advice you dispense there. Have you ever thought about doing a book on craft?
Joe R. Lansdale 1:29:14
Yes, I've written part of it, it will happen. And you know, unless I die, it's going to happen in the next two or three years. I'm getting the memoir out of the way right now. But but that will be my next nonfiction book after that. Yeah. You know, what's hard about a memoir? I don't know for sure when you're lying. Right? Because you you come to create a lot of this yourself over the years. And you look back and you've read, you know, retool things, and you talk to somebody else and they're not one like I had no tell you talking about, you know, and so you feel you know, it's hard to do and to do honestly and I'm trying to do it honestly, but it's hard to do, because you don't know when you're lying. You know because a lot of things that We all feel our absolute truths aren't, you know, I had one incident that is just very powerful and important to me. And I found that it didn't happen to me it happened to my brother. But I guess I'd heard it so much that I created it. I might keep it, it's really good.