Todd Robinson, founder of ThugLit.com, the hardcore crime fiction website, is close to finishing his novel, provisionally titled, 'The Hard Bounce'. In the second part of out two part interview with Todd talks about the travails of writing and finding a publisher for his novel, his influences and his hopes for the book.
(read part one of our interview here
- where he focuses more on his website, Thuglit.com
You're working on a novel - can you tell us something about it? Todd:
Well, it was called Thug for about eight years and recently became The Hard Bounce. The line was getting blurred between it and the website, and I want to keep those entities separate. It's been 'finished' for over four years and edited and re-edited approximately 764,872,190 times. Currently, I'm fixing it up once again from the damage done by the last 'editor' who busted her ass to strip every element of my voice from the piece before I finally said enough and pulled my book from her. The sample chapters are outdated (but should be revised by the next issue) and I've dealt with every single piece of bullshit that a writer can with the fucker. Seriously, if you can find anyone else who's had THREE agents and TWO publishers for the same (as yet unpublished) novel, I'd like to meet them. I'm also working hard on the follow-up, Rough Trade, which I hope to have finished by the Spring of 2007.O/L:
When will the Hard Bounce be available? Todd:
Might never be. Publishing's a bitch.O/L:
What I like, what I find refreshing (in your writing in particular) is the that the realism is gritty and real and sort of fractured and the protagonists are so inarticulately eloquent. That makes them scary and real and entertaining too. Todd:
I always want real characters in my stories, who don't act, don't speak much, very well or clearly, who do nothing ultimately. And your characters are like that only they do bad things... They have the muscle jobs of the world. Can you say what sort of jobs you've had... Hell, those are the jobs I still have. Right now I'm working as a bartender and bouncer in Manhattan. I used to wear a pin on my jacket that read 'I'm not too smart, but I can lift heavy things'. Those are my only three skills. I can tell a decent story, mix a cocktail and punch people in the face. If the writing thing doesn't work out, I'm fucked. I'll be the world's angriest seventy-year-old bouncer.O/L:
What about Edward Bunker - is No Beast So Fierce one of the best ever? I've never read anything quite like that... What are the major influences on your writing, how did you start, who would you recommend? Todd:
Haven't read No Beast So Fierce yet, but did read Dog Eat Dog by Mr Bunker, and it was the teats. Man, what I wouldn't do to get a story out of THAT guy [for ThugLit]. My first influence was Andrew Vachss. All of my ideas were pretty dark, but he was the first guy I read who did it darker than me. After reading him, I thought that maybe I could make a go with writing. When I started, I wanted to BE him, but I just can't. Nobody can. The guy does prose like a left hook. Mine leans towards the goofy (see: Frankenstein's dick) Lately, I've been reading a lot of Harry Crews, Joe Lansdale and Ken Bruen. I dunno. I try to stay as influence-free as possible at this point and just write like me. The writers who resonate with me are ones within which I recognize elements of how I want to tell a story, but still don't want to be them. I'm happy being me and writing from who I am.O/L:
I was glad to see you name checked Charles Willeford on your site, its like most people stop at Jim Thompson - the Frank Lloyd Wright of low life lit. What I like about your stuff is, it reminds me of the 60s New English Library and the very urban Skinhead and Suedehead books by Richard Allen... Are you familiar with them... Is there an American equivalent to something like that, an antecedent to what you're doing? Todd:
Thompson, I know. He should be a prerequisite for anyone writing noir. Richard Allen is exactly the world I'm working inside. Those are my peeps - not the skinheads, per se, but the working class disenfranchised. I don't get legal thrillers. Good for you if you do, but I don't know how the fuck I'm supposed to care about a lawyer... EVER... I care about the guy who is desperate to feed his family and may sell his soul to do it. I'm interested in the guy who is too dumb to do anything but carry a gun. These are the people that live on the same street level as I do. The only antecedent to my writing is my life and those that I've raised pints and Hell with.O/L:
What sort of support have you seen from the Main Stream media if any... Interviews, press... Todd:
Not much. I've done some editorial bitching on the state of the crime fiction Union in Crimespree Magazine, but my support comes from the readers of Thuglit. We got an e-mail from an eighteen year old kid living in Michigan and working at a mill ten hours a day, thanking us for Thuglit. I told him to write us a story. He did and it blew me away. I'm proud to say that we published his first. One year later, he's attending college in New York and workshopping his writing with me and two other Thuglit veterans in Write Club (The first rule of Write Club is... You get the idea). When I stand at Judgement and have to excuse my life, I'll be able to stand there and say that maybe... Just maybe... I did something that helped a guy decide to get out of a fucking mill.