Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I was born Daniel Earl Javorsky in Berlin, Germany, in 1949.
Fiona: A little about your self (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
We immigrated to Queens, NY, when I was two. My mother remarried and we moved to Brentwood, CA, when I was five. I made it through high school (barely) and a bit of each of five different colleges. I have been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and novelist.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My third novel, Down to No Good, just came out. It’s the sequel to Down Solo. I am teaming up to do a talk with my friend Dave Putnam, a fine writer. We’re calling it Two Writers: Opposite Side of the Law. He was in law enforcement for thirty-five years, while I was in the drug business until the whole scene just about killed me.We’ll be talking about how we got into our divergent career paths and how we drew on our experience to create fiction. Our first time out will be on February 11 at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Like nearly every writer, I was addicted to reading from an early age. I began scribbling ideas and then poems and essays in junior high school. There is no why.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I got work on an entertainment rag in Hollywood—I would get free passes to music all over town and would go drink and write reviews.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
There was a sex predator in the recovery community in LA. He was an older guy, a doctor, who would “mentor” attractive young women. It was gross and inappropriate, but great material for a crime novel.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Trust Me was entirely appropriate, as the doctor—a shrink—used it a lot.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write mean and lean. I don’t want readers skimming my novels—you’re either in or you’re out. As for challenging: structure, always. And in my particular genre, which is a mashup (except for Trust Me) of mystery and paranormal—though I like to call it metaphysical noir—the challenge is to pull the reader in so directly through voice and narrative that they don’t have time to go, “Wait a minute, dead people don’t reanimate their bodies and go solve crimes.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, with Trust Me, I knew the guy, and several women he took advantage of. And with all three, I lift episodes from my life on the dark side—drug overdoses, crazy people, police confrontations, etc.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
In Down Solo, there’s a lengthy passage that takes place in Baja, Mexico, that required some familiarity with the place.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My editor’s wife, I believe.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The sadness of the drug life is worth documenting. And the stupidity of our national drug policy. That there’s always a fork in the road, always a potentially better choice.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I have read almost everything by Elmore Leonard and by the anti-Leonard, James Lee Burke. Leonard for mean and lean, tell the damn story, and get out. Burke for gorgeous descriptions of things I don’t otherwise care about, like the color of the sky before a hurricane at sunset. And for his tremendous insight into human nature. Both for their grasp of structure. But then, I have at least a dozen that qualify as favorites: Michael Gruber, John le Carre, Dan Simmons, Borges, Walter Mosley, DavidBenioff . . . Oh yeah, new authors: Gabino Iglesias.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
In high school, I got the scariest teacher on campus. Mrs. O’Brian kicked five kids out of class in the first five minutes of the new semester. I was going to be the sixth. I failed my first paper and then made a decision. I started getting As and I knew I was good at something.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
When I presented my first book to my editor, he told me I had the makings of a good career as a writer. I’ve already experienced trying to be a musician with a capitol M, and I don’t care to repeat it. I do have a career as an editor, though, and I’m proud of the work I do contributing to the polishing of another writer’s craft.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m too close to Down to No Good to answer that—it just came out. But in Trust Me, I would definitely change a principal character’s profession. I drew Holly as an aspiring actress, which is a bit fluffy and hard to relate to. And in Down Solo there’s a joke I would take out, even though it’s funny.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yeah, that it’s easy to keep you in a scene, but can I keep you in the story? Structure is always a challenge. And that writing is not a cerebral exercise—the good stuff comes from the swamp.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
That’s easy—Colin Farell.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Sure. Read everything. No, read everything good. No, read some bad stuff so you know what bad looks like. If you’re new, take a class. Find a read-critique group and listen for the best voice. Take criticism seriously, but not emotionally. Learn from what doesn’t work as much as from what does.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope Charlie Miner crawls into your brain and lodges there.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Give Up the Dead, by Joe Clifford
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not specifically. One of these: Treasure Island, Doctor Doolittle, Alice in Wonderland, orThe Wizard of Oz.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My wife makes me laugh a lot. Sometimes I’ll be brought to tears by the convergence, in a film, of love of craft and a wonderful story. When I see something done not only masterfully in terms of technique, but also with heart.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d like to hang out with Ray McKinnon, the creator of the TV series Rectify, because he accomplished what I just described above.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I play basketball at the gym six nights a week—I have an ugly but high-percentage corner shot. I surf. I still play guitar.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
There’s so much great stuff on TV now: Taboo, Peaky Blinders, Bloodline, Rectify, TheCrown, The Wire, Luther, Broadchurch—I could go on and on.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
We eat chicken salads every day—they’re so good, there’s nothing to change up. I love lots of music but am basically a roots folky/blues guy.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
www.earljavorsky.com – It’s up and running but I’m about to add a newletter and more.