Where are you from
I now live in the UK, in London, but am originally from Augusta, GA, USA.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
“My novel SUICIDE RIDE: THE PLATINUM MAN, which has just been released as an e-book, is available on Amazon, at the following link:
For my Facebook fan page, click here:
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
“I write because I have to. I can’t remember when I didn’t write, really.”
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer
”Probably at age 8 when I composed my first serious poem, a variation on the villanelle called “The Pitiful Cry.” Each stanza ended with the refrain, “And I would cry the pitiful cry.” It was sappy and sentimental, of course—a lament of pseudo-grief dedicated to my best friend, Anne Marie. In it, I imagined what I would do if anything happened to her. Not incidentally, I wrote it while riding home on the bus after the last day of our third-grade year, scribbling it in pencil on our class page in our yearbook, next to her picture. Doubtless, I was imagining what the long, hot summer ahead would be like without her. Mind you, this was circa 1969, predating the days of smart phones and computers, or instant communication of any kind, other than rotary phones. Still, the poem clearly betrayed a latent talent.”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
“I can’t answer that. Not because I won’t, or because it’s a secret, but because the seed was sewn long ago, born not out of any one inspiration or event, but out of the urge to put pen to paper, and vent.”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
“Do I ever—though I’m hard-pressed to describe it! But I’ve been told over and over that I have a unique, one-of-a-kind voice, one the alert reader would recognize as my own, even absent my name. If I were forced, I’d describe my style as poetic, yet hard-hitting, muscular, and exigent. A keen reader just recently offered this assessment: ‘Boy, you have a daring, kinetic, Dickensian energy propelling your prose. Swinging hard! Made my heart beat, and my mind reel. In love with the whole of it!’ And yet another had this to say: ‘It was mind blowing, no pun intended! It kept me on the edge, just the way Fifty Shades did!’ So, as you can see, it appeals to a wide audience, being both literary and yet solidly plot-driven, grounded as it is in pop culture.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
“That was easy. The reader will spot the significance of the title just a few chapters in. I wrote a song called SUICIDE RIDE, and after that, it was obvious. That had to be the title. And the subtitle stems from the song.”
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
“Definitely. First of all, as I writer, I set out to prove that literature and erotica are not mutually exclusive; nor does a learned, profound style automatically cut a writer off from the large majority of readers out there, who are just looking for a good story acted out on the page by credible characters who spring to life right before their eyes. But above all, the story is excruciatingly honest. I pull no punches, take no prisoners, and make no concessions to clichés and causes. More than anything, I seek to tell the truth. And this I believe I do exceedingly well.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
“All of it. Gritty realism is my forte.”
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
“Both. If not events in my own life, then events in someone else’s, or imagined events that help me work out the kinks in my mind. Huge chunks of me are to be found in both of my major characters—in my protagonist, Johnny Gellis, and in my antagonist, Norman Dimond. Anyone who knows me well will recognize which puzzle pieces fit which holes. And on this score, I must caution readers: don’t be deceived by gender! All fiction is intensely autobiographical. You just have to know the writer’s psyche well enough to know where to dig to find the congruencies.”
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
“I hate these kinds of questions, because I’m an enthusiastic reader, and I like so many different kinds of writing. That said, two books in particular spring to mind, one non-fiction and the other fiction. Years ago, the inimitable but underrated WEST WITH THE WIND, Beryl Markham’s autobiography, enraptured me, more for its style than content. And just recently I’ve been heavily engaged in reading, and re-reading, Marguerite Yourcenar’s groundbreaking classic THE MEMOIRS OF HADRIAN. This last work in particular looms large. If I could achieve just a fraction of what Yourcenar achieved in but a single chapter of that book, I could put down my pen and never pick it up again.”
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
“Youcenar, definitely. Also Shakespeare and Sylvia Plath, odd bedfellows though they may be!”
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“SUICIDE RIDE, what else! Right now, I don’t have time for anyone’s work but my own. And since that bodes well for sales, that’s all right by me!”
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
“Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to really absorb any of the latest releases, though I’m sure I’m the one missing out on a lot of very fine talent.”
Fiona: What are your current projects?
“I’m working on the follow-up to THE PLATINUM MAN, SUICIDE RIDE: THE FIXER.”
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
“Not even close. My editor and e-publisher, who shall remain anonymous. But he knows who he is. I owe him a debt of gratitude I can never repay. He believed in me when no one else did, patiently mentoring me every baby step of the way. Without him, I would not answering these questions. He’s my literary doppelganger and my biggest and most ardent supporter.”
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
“Absolutely. It’s not only my career, it’s my way of life.”
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
“No. Truly. That’s how hard I worked to get it just right. Sure, I might change the odd word or phrase, because, as Yeats said, ‘A work is never finished, merely abandoned.’ But I would change nothing of substance.”
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
“I do believe it must have happened as a result of trauma sustained during birth. In other words, I think I came out that way!”
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“Anyone can read the first 4 chapters for free on my Amazon webpage by clicking on the cover to see inside. That’s a substantial amount of text, right there. However, I will also share this excerpt from Chapter 14.”
On the Strip, Norman balanced his Bruno Magli heels over the curb, looking left and right, across the boulevard, every which way—but each time his starved eyes came back empty, unfilled with that happy vision that not twenty-four hours ago had gladdened his hardening heart and hard-hit homunculus.
Seeing no sign of his god-eyed savior who last night had redeemed his mojo from a living hell of extinction, by baptizing it in fire and blood, he was overpowered, quite suddenly, by a desolate longing downgrading into despair. Just what could be so good about this Johnny, that he could not forget—or let go?
Of course, the kid was hotter than the reddest devil haunting Dante’s inner circle, but beyond that, there was something else … something intangible and indefinable, something ethereal even, about the boy. His body, he could put his finger on; his quintessence, he could not. He was a colossal puzzle, with several big pieces missing.
And Norman could not rest until he recovered those errant parts. Acutely, he yearned to put him together. Achingly, he longed to know him.
For months now, he had been overcome with the inchoate and inarticulate presentiment that something life-altering was looming on his horizon, that there was someone special out there, waiting for him—someone who needed him in the worst possible way—and whose very survival depended on that which only he, Norman Dimond, could impart.
Could Johnny Gellis be this One? Was that why the melancholy young man had struck such a resounding chord?
Going back to the end of last summer, his problems with impotency began first, not with any outward physical diminution, but with an inward emotional withdrawal: sick in spirit, his body soon followed suit, as a metaphysical ennui—a deep-rooted torpor—gradually blanketed his fire, until finally his last little flame had flickered out, doused.
Lonely and bored, he had grown disenchanted with his playthings: Drew was no longer enough; the club was no longer enough; the tricks were no longer enough; his work, such as it was, was no longer enough; nothing was enough. He was numb.
And so, every night since, except last, he had medicated his large purple numbness with a little blue pill that had promised release, at the end of his long tunnel of drought.
And in a blink, Johnny Gellis had descended, like some glorious deus ex machina, changing all of that.
Now all Norman had to do was close his eyes and conjure his haloed image, and his life’s blood rushed in to fill his corporeal man full to overflowing. How? How had that happened? And where?—where was the blessed and fulsome instrument of this resurrection?
Standing there, forlorn and lovelorn, seeing no sign of his divine healer, it was then that Norman Dimond knew: he didn’t just want Johnny Gellis. He needed him!
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
“Writing itself is bliss. It’s just finding the time to do it.”
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
“I have lots of favorites, but right now it’s Marguerite Yourcenar who wrote Memoirs of Hadrian. The clarity, lucidity, and wisdom of her work never ceases to amaze me. In that book, she wrote the most stunning evocation of grief I’ve ever come across.”
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
“Not so far, but I certainly hope to!”
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
“Damon of www.damonza.com. He’s simply the best in the biz!”
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
“Just finding the time. Once I start, instinct takes over, and it’s almost a breeze …”
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
“Persistence pays off. But slowly.”
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
“See above. And also I would offer this famous advice from Marguerite Yourcenar: ‘Do the best one can. Do it over again. Then still improve, even if ever so slightly, those retouches.’ ”
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
“SUICIDE RIDE is for straight/heterosexual readers, too—all readers who get off on beauty and precision in language, who dig delving deep into the minds of eerily alive characters made so heart-thumpingly real you feel you need to prick them with a pin just to make sure they DON’T jump!
SUICIDE RIDE isn’t a GAY novel, per se. It isn’t “about” being gay. (And there’s certainly nothing “gay” about it.) It’s literature—and the last I checked, persons of all persuasions were allowed.
Rather, SUICIDE RIDE is an archetypal tale—one that speaks equally, though perhaps with unequal degrees of urgency, to differing people of all backgrounds, and all orientations. Anyone who has lived long enough to question himself, to doubt his role in the world, and to struggle with his own identity will identify.
At its core, SUICIDE RIDE is a love story between two men, a bromance. It’s a story about a straight man and a gay man whose lives collide at the crossroads of SUNSET BOULEVARD and Mephisto Road. It’s about that age-old quest for fame and that barter with the Devil. It’s about many more things than I can number in the telling. It’s about ruing what you wanted—once you get it. It’s about learning, the hard way, what you REALLY want, deep down, underneath the false, golden, glittery facade of THINGS—about learning, through fire and tribulation, what really counts, what really matters—and what doesn’t.
And who can’t empathize with that?
As one critic said, “SUICIDE RIDE is a harrowing contemporary 21st-century tale set in Perdition that sings of Paradise Lost, Regained, and Lost Again, told in rapturous music that soars to the rafters and bounces off the beams of heaven.”
So, I’m hoping this will win over those of you who are still sitting on the fence, riding this one out—who are curious, and who would perhaps like to read the book, but who are skeptical, who may be wondering whether it belongs in the pulp grinder, to some sordid subset of genre fiction: SUICIDE RIDE is anything BUT.
No ifs, ands, or maybes.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the reviews. Test-drive it. Sample the first four chapters for FREE. You won’t be sorry …
Yours in the art,
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
“Probably have gone into advertising. I have that kind of creativity and wit. Jingles come naturally to me.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
“For now, I’m using my Facebook pages. I have 3, as follows.”
SUICIDE RIDE Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/E.Llewellyn.SuicideRide
SUICIDE RIDE Fan Group Page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/312451082226316/?fref=ts
E. Llewellyn Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/elizabeth.llewellyn.71