Tuesday, 24 July 2012

PUSH-UPS: Jay Stringer

So, what you pushing right now?

My first foray into crime. Well, crime fiction. Not my first foray into crime itself because I’m from the midlands and- wait this could be used against me, right? Okay. I’m pushing my debut crime novel, OLD GOLD.

What’s the hook?

Social Pulp Fiction. Hardboiled fiction for the credit-crunch era. Featuring a half-Romani detective who walks the mean streets of the Black Country, it’s a murder mystery that tries to sneak in a few moments of social commentary.

And why’s that floating your boat?

Because it has my name on it, and all of my words inside it, and other people get to read it. Also (serious voice) because I’m proud to have written a book about the Midlands. The place usually gets ignored in the media.

When did you turn to crime?

Though one to answer. I can look back and see that my tastes were always evolving in that direction. I was drawn to stories that we could call (and it’s becoming almost cliché to do so) social fiction, and that road inevitably leads to crime. A key moment was in the mid to late 90’s, when in the space of about two years I saw THE USUAL SUSPECTS, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and JACKIE BROWN. You could throw NIL BY MOUTH in, too. They lead me to the books of Ellroy and Leonard, eventually Lawrence Block. After that I was never long between reading crime novels, and most of what I wrote had crime in it, too.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?

All of it. Except the bad bits. I like writers who know not to put too many words on a page. I like crime that’s done for a reason. Doesn’t matter when it was released, that shit never gets old.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

Being late to the party as usual, I just read SAVAGES. Loved it. But that was predictable, right? I like writers who move the words around on the page, it feels fun and exciting, like early Bruen. I tried to move the words around a lot in OLD GOLD, but to be honest I was talked down off that ledge in most cases.

My friend Steve Weddle has been working on something called COUNTRY HARDBALL, and I know it’s cheating to plug something that doesn’t have a release date yet, but I’m really stoked for when people get to see what he’s doing. He’s finding a voice that’s half James Sallis and half Charlie Huston. I can’t wait until people see what he’s up to.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

All of mine. Right now. Please. I’m thinking of changing my name to Don Winslow, that seems to be the trick. Actually –and I’m surprised by this- I’ve stopped thinking about it. I was inspired by movies (and comics, and music) long before I was inspired by prose, and I’ve always enjoyed thinking about who would play which characters and which director should tackle which book. But now that I have a chip on the table, I never think about it. Books are books, films are films, and I’m not fussed about one becoming the other. Boring, eh? I’m interested to see what they do with the Matt Scudder film though, because one of the few things I still hold onto is my idea for how to adapt WHEN THE SCARED GINMILL CLOSES.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?

Wherever the honest story-telling is. I think we manufacture a lot of these divides. I’m part of that because I write for a crime fiction website, and it’s blogs and websites that fuel these divides. If we look at the music industry we see certain things; the money men still always figure out a way to make money, hacks always find a way to hack and artists always find a way to…art. (I kinda trampled that sentence there, didn’t I?) Bands and solos musicians find ways to make their music available in almost any format the listener wants, and the fan has access to whatever floats their boat. We as writers just need to get on with writing and connecting with people. I think I should let the reader choose whether they read my work on paper or digital.

Shout us a website worth visiting …

This is a kind of two-for-one deal, because it’s a website about a podcast. See, I’m all about the new media, huh? People could do far worse than check out http://fuzzytypewriter.wordpress.com/ My buddy Paul has a podcast up there that talks about story and storytelling, and they focus on different topics with each show; sometimes a film, or a series of films, sometimes a book, sometimes a comic. There was a very good episode recently on JUSTIFIED, and I’m just about to start season 2 of that.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

Depending on who you ask, I was named after either Jimi Hendrix or Irish Whiskey.

:: PULP PUSHER has a freebie copy of Jay's OLD GOLD to give away to one lucky bastod, so, how to do it fairly? It has to be a multiple-choice question....

Jay's blistering debut is called OLD GOLD, but which klarsy aftershave does oor Jay prefer himself?

a) Blue Stratos.
b) Denim for men.
c) Old Spice.

The first person to post (c) in the comments box will be the proud owner of one - slightly Old Spice-smelling copy - of OLD GOLD.