Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lawrence Block Interviews Lawrence Block

Over at Mystery Scene, Lawrence Block has written a fond and quite funny remembrance of his psudenoymous early work called "Remembering Andy, Anne, Shelly, Lesley, Ben & Jill." The article cleverly takes the form of a self-interview, which is actually rather fitting, considering that it is dealing with his multiple identities as a writer.

Recently, Open Road Integrated Media has published eBooks of 40+ of Block's out of print work written under various pen names, many of which were (as Block explains), "Soft–core erotic novels for Nightstand and Midwood and Beacon and Berkley. Lesbian fiction. I mean, who would put his own name on a book for Beacon? (Well, Charles Willeford would. But not I.)"

In the article, Block's self-dialogue discusses how his perception of the work has changed over the years and why he's decided to allow them to be republished. The backstory to Block's career is very interesting to read about, and sometimes the self-interview leads to some very funny places:

Anyway, one thing led to another. One of the Jill Emerson titles is A Madwoman’s Diary, and in the course of writing about it I remembered its origin. The plot was based on a psychosexual case history in a book by John Warren Wells. That’s a pen name I used on collections of psychosexual case histories.

Which you drew from a shrink’s files?

No, which I fabricated. I made up the case histories, and one of them sort of stayed in my mind, and I decided it would make an interesting novel.

So you plagiarized yourself.

I prefer to think of it as recycling.
Block has written new Afterwords to each of these eBooks.

Open Road isn't the only one to be exploring this part of Block's career. Subterranean Press recently brought out Hellcats and Honeygirls, a collection of early novels written by Block and Donald E. Westlake.

And Block himself will be returning to an old pseudonym, Jill Emerson, for Hard Case Crime's first hardcover novel, Getting Off. It will be published this coming September. You can read the first chapter online here. Below is a short excerpt:
"You stay at the table long enough, you’re sure to give it all back. Luck goes one way and then it goes the other, like a pendulum swinging, and the house has always got more money than you do and it can afford to wait you out. Any casino’ll break you in the long run, even a pissant low–rent Injun casino way the hell up in the Upper Peninsula." He grinned. "But in the long run we’re all dead, so the hell with the long run. In the short run a person can get lucky and do himself some good, and it might never have happened if you didn’t come along and blow on my dice. You’re my lucky charm, sweet thing."
Also, coming this May under Block's own name is the latest Matthew Scudder novel, A Drop of the Hard Stuff, and it's really terrific and highly recommended. I reviewed the book earlier this week.

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