As fiction goes, there's a glorious, deep and dark depth to American Noir, the protagonists legendary, their characters household names in their own right. As a writer, how'd you pierce that beautiful but precious bubble? How'd you do it as an outsider? That's the conundrum a plethora of soft-boiled murder mystery's can't resolve. And then there's Earl Javorsky, fuck even his name sounds unsavoury, like it would burn into your skull from your speed dial screen at night because he'd be the man that brought the stuff you needed although you knew, you knew, he'd extract a very high price for it. How'd you pierce that bubble? If you're Earl Javorsky, you bully your way in with no small amount of authenticity.
Earl's first two novels, Down Solo and Trust Me kick off at an audacious pace and never let up. Perfect for a lengthy over-exposed bus ride or a train journey. It's like reading Edward Bunker on speed. In the fall, Earl publishes his third novel, Down To No Good, a sequel to his debut indie hit, Down Solo.
When we met Earl, his candour was cool, and his love and passion for crime fiction shone through...
Outsideleft: Drugs. Earl, two books, two books awash with oceans of drugs. More drugs than the entire 2012 Russian olympic team put together. And it's funny but it's not always funny. You have an uncanny insight...
Earl Javorksy: Well, insight is hindsight in this case. As the old song goes, we started out on Burgundy but soon moved to the harder stuff. Innocence of youth and all that, crossed a threshold at some point, like going to fun little-kid-Disneyland and then getting lost in nightmare-Disneyland. The community I hang with now, we tell those stories and laugh at that shit.
OL: Even kids that die in your stories, well they don't seem so lovable like, they're not going to be missed. When do you write, only when you're feeling most misanthropic?
EJ: Only one kid dies (in Down Solo), and he’s a twisted little prick so it didn’t require a dark mood to kill him. In fact, it was a fun scene to write. My dark side comes out when I read about politics or when some kid gives me shit about not rebounding hard enough when I’m playing ball.
OL: Have you always written? It can be a tough way to make a living? Most writers seem to be retirees with good pensions, or University careers. You have a perhaps more interesting resumé, I wonder, what are the main duties of a 'product rep in the chemical entertainment industry?'
EJ: I’m a print junkie. Started out with Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, stole ’em off the lid of my dad’s toilet tank. I was a loser in high school and got an old witch of an English teacher - she kicked five kids out in the first five minutes. I made it my mission to impress her. Got my only A, along with the message that I could arrange words on paper. Wrote for a couple startup entertainment rags out of high school, which got me press passes to all the music in town (LA). Worked for Rolling Stone in London for a minute. At 21, I made the conscious decision to shelve writing and give music my best shot. I had my moments.
Yea, well, ‘product rep in the chemical entertainment industry’ is my tongue-in-cheek euphemism for being in the dope business. Started out in weed, made some good money in LSD, then, inevitably, moved on to the world of coke. Just about killed me. But it allowed me to pretend I was a musician for a long time.
OL: Where do you live? Do you write every day? Do you ever not write?
EJ: I’m in San Diego - Oceanside, actually. My writing process sucks. I create structural puzzles that become fucking Rubik’s cubes that I almost give up on and then I get clarity and forge ahead and somehow, via some organic sequence I don’t understand, I get something that—hopefully—makes sense, works, intrigues, satisfies, pays off for the reader. Meanwhile, there are big gaps and then weird, spastic stabs of output.
OL: What are your influences - I mean, I read Down Solo like the book of a Netflix TV series, and both of your books are so rocknroll, but not in a hair band way, more Dirty Projectors way, pushing boundaries within a vernacular. And I know music is a big deal to you because of the Leonard Cohen quotes that open the books, I mean, there aren't that many people on the planet who know LC's writing well enough to wring an appropriate aphorism for the occasion. The world is not like that.
EJ: In college - and I went to a bunch of them for a short while each—I read the stuff that was fashionable at the time: Artaud, Borges, Bukowski, Brautigan, Camus, etc., so I suppose they influenced me. I’m actually more grounded in James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard, opposite as they are in style. But just as I like taking standard blues and twisting it into weird (I’m a Scott Henderson fan), so it is with writing. And films, of course, have affected me. Stuff like The Limey, and The Usual Suspects, Tree of Life—visual storytelling is crucial. And TV series like Rectify, True Detective, and Taboo.
And yes, Leonard Cohen affected me profoundly with his first album, though I didn’t follow him much after that.
OL: Briefly, because I think a lot of writers I know, well, all seem to be split into camps, one side or the other of the pervasive kindle thing. Has the technology impacted your successes? I mean what sells... My friend's book was one of the Daily Mail's 'Noir Crime Fiction' of the year books and it ultimately meant nothing. Although the book was great and a great yarn. You've got a lot of interesting people interested in you. Is that a winner for sales? This is the most boring question isn't I think?
EJ: Not boring. First let’s qualify the word success. The only real success I’ve had as a writer has been to conceive and craft and finish a few books. I weaseled my way into a publishing deal with an indie. Then I scoured the web and found a way to approach a writer with a name who was willing to read Down Solo. I piggy-backed on his kind review and found the next writer, and so on. I’ve found people in the online writing community to be extremely generous with their time and thoughtful comments. It’s like my high school English teacher still giving me an A. But success, in terms of money or even being on the publishing map, feels like trying to jump to Mars. Actually, the whole process is a lot like back in the day as a musician: play the circuit for free doing showcasing gigs; getting friends to come (over and over); promoting the gigs; handing out demos and trying to get a record deal - it’s a sales job.
OL: What next? Is there anything next?
EJ: Sequel to my first book (Down Solo) coming out in October; it’s called Down to No Good. Charlie Miner’s a junkie PI who has a remarkable resilience to being killed: a bullet in his brain doesn’t stop him from finding out who put it there. Down to No Good pits him and his cop pal against a Hollywood psychic who solves murders for LAPD. Drugs and alcohol are ingested, rendering both protagonists nearly useless, and yet they prevail. No spoiler there; protagonists always prevail.