MASTER OF NOIR

 

WRITER WORKING INTRO: [Full disclosure: Les has been a friend and mentor of mine for a while, but my words about his talent and work are true ones.]

 

 

Les Edgerton is a noted, versatile, and prolific writer of everything from craft books to Noir thrillers. His newest and hottest items are Just Like That and The Bitch, which chronicle the in-prison-and-out-and-in struggles of young Jake Mayes.

You can tune in to a lot more Les at his blog at http://www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com. In the HONORS department, that psychological thriller I mentioned above, The Bitch, has been nominated for the prestigious Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Novel in the Legends Category. Now, it’s up to the public and readers to choose the winner by voting. You still have time to treat yourself to a download and a great read, and in any case, I encourage you to go to  http://www.spinetinglermag.com/2012/03/31/2012-spinetingler-award-voting/ and cast your vote for The Bitch.

How many chances will you get to cast a positive vote for one of those, huh?

Now, let’s hear from Mr. “Hooked on Noir,” Les Edgerton himself.

WW: Your varied writing background output includes not only superb craft books such as Hooked, intense short stories like those in Monday’s Meal, a coming-of-age novel called  The Death of Tarpons, and even (with son Mike) a volume about little league baseball. Lately, though, you’ve been on a noir fiction tear, with two noir works in print and another on the way (The Rapist from New Pulp Press.) What moved you in this direction?

LES: That’s easy. I discovered that it existed. Until a couple of years ago I was completely unaware of noir’s existence. And, it wasn’t until six months ago that I learned that a book could not only begin but end darkly. That’s the truth, unfortunately. Now, I’m wondering what else is out there that if I knew of it, would grant me even more writing freedom.

When I was a kid, my only source of books was the local library. Because of my age, I was kept from so-called “adult” fiction. Didn’t matter I grew up in a bar, saw my first guy shot when I was 12, routinely observed adultery, sex in all shapes, sizes, and forms, as well as every form of abuse, up close and personal. Knew personally, drunks, thieves, rapists, perverts, and all the dirty flotsam of society. The librarian didn’t want to corrupt my “innocence.” Another instance of an adult (and, a bureaucrat to boot!) who wanted to protect me from myself. Story of my life.

This is why I detest most forms of government especially socialist forms. They all want to be nannies. I just want someone to explain how a person with an I.Q. of 100 is given control of a person with an I.Q. of over 160. I guess it’s in the numbers. There are far more mediocrities than intelligent people, and most seem to gravitate toward government or institutional positions… I think they sense they wouldn’t make it as entrepreneurs or on their own abilities. Why we have unions… Mediocrity gains strength in numbers.

Then, in high school, the ones who could nurture an inquisitive mind—English teachers—were just people with the same mind set as that librarian. If they even knew of any interesting books (doubtful…), they made it their mission to keep it from our young, “innocent” minds. None of them wanted us to know of writers such as Bukowski, for example. In their defense, most probably weren’t aware of writers like that themselves as they were no doubt “sheltered” by the ones who came before them. Mediocrity promoting mediocrity. Controlling minds controlling minds… Each generation of censors creates the next generation of censors.

It makes me angry. I’ve lost years and years of writing about the things I’ve always wanted to write about because I didn’t think it was permissible. One might say: Well, why didn’t you just write about those things anyway? Implying that it’s some kind of honorable goal to fill up a bunch of drawers with unpublished manuscripts… The answer is I’ve never had as a goal to write for a drawer. I’ve always intended an audience and if I believe no one would publish what I really wanted to write it would be kind of dumb to write material that I didn’t think had a chance of being published. I’ve never had the slightest desire to be “discovered” after my death. I want the rewards while I’m still alive. What good does it do one to have their work read once they’re room temperature? Do they think that when they’re dead they’re looking down from some vantage point and rubbing their hands in glee that people are now reading their work? That’s the only thing that makes sense of writing for “posterity.” Do you suppose Herman Melville is now sitting up on a cloud somewhere, feeling justified that his stuff that wasn’t read during his lifetime is now taught in universities? If anyone believes that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can make you a great deal on… So, I wrote what I was led to believe as publishable work. If I’d known I could write the stories I wanted to write and that they had a shot at being published, I’d have been all over that from Day One. But, if you’re convinced by everyone that what you want to write can’t possibly be published, then… you don’t write it. Which, I assume, is the goal of the censors…

WW: I suppose some day, with a little practice, you’ll learn to speak your unrestrained mind. But on another matter… Like most classifications, “Noir” may be more of a marketing tool than an accurate description of a genre. That said, what do you think separates Noir from other detective or crime fiction?

LES: First, I’m going to throw out “detective fiction” from consideration of your question. In my opinion, detective fiction has nothing to do with noir and actually very little to do with crime fiction other than there are crimes involved in each. There may be noirish elements present in detective fiction, but there are noirish elements present in nearly all stories, other than those intended for publications such as Guideposts. Little Women seems to me to be a perfect example of noir. Imagine living in that house and not waking up each day itching to fire up a Black & Decker and beheading everyone you see! All contemporary stories are about trouble and noir is, for most of society, about trouble. And, a noir story may have a detective as a character, but that doesn’t make it a detective story. I think they’re mutually exclusive.

Everyone has a dark place inside him or her. That place we strive mightily to hide from others. It’s why we create white or social lies, why we practice the art of lying, either directly or by omission, why we put on hundreds of false faces during the course of the average day. Nearly all of us are engaged in a constant battle to hide who we really are from those around us. Nearly all of us are engaged in a constant battle to hide who we really are not only from others but from ourselves. In a large sense, it’s an instinct for survival. But, that dark place, deep inside, that we battle to keep hidden, is where truth resides. The problem is… we all have such a place. We lie to ourselves when we refuse to consider that everyone around us harbors the same dark place. What makes noir different from other crime fiction is that it aims to get closer to that dark place. Which is why it will probably never be one of those “bestselling” categories. Most people don’t want to face the fact that like everyone on the face of the earth, there is what the moralists would term “evil” residing inside each individual.

What the nihilist or at least the nihilistic character sees isn’t good and evil. Choices are based on survival and not on morals. Choices are based on expediency and not in fear of some moral punishment after death or societal disapproval. In fact, in the society most noir characters inhabit, their actions aren’t considered socially wrong, but more along the lines of that popular bumper sticker philosophy designed for a television audience mentality, “It is what it is.”

What makes noir different from other crime fiction is that it goes further into that dark place that inhabits all of us much further. Endings represent probably the biggest difference. Lessons aren’t learned, “happy” endings aren’t arrived at—in fact, it’s not even necessary that that adage of most writing instruction be followed—that “satisfactory” ending thingy. True noir fiction is relatively rare. Too often, stories are deemed noir simply because the protagonist commits bad or so-called “evil” acts. In many of those stories, the protagonist is presented as a sociopath or even a psychopath. True noir isn’t about sociopaths. It gives us characters who do what they do because they’re trying to survive.

Noir is the human state before civilization. Before the veneers of socialization. Noir is nihilism, pure and simple, without the filters society has created. Nihilism is the natural state of man. Nihilism means different things to different individuals, but my personal definition is that of moral nihilism which can sometimes lead to anomie. Some would claim Edvard Munch’s painting “Scream” is the artistic expression of this brand of nihilism, but Munch is showing the result of morality. The true nihilistic or true noir story doesn’t lead to this at all. It leads to simply one thing. Survival.

Emile Durheim posits that anomie is a nurtured condition. Well, what state of mind or societal mindset isn’t? He also is the sort of philosopher who sees Munch’s ìScreamî as the expression of a nihilist.

Personally, I think he’s just another academic full of hot air and a lot of bullshit.

 WW: You’ve spent some time behind bars, which likely put you in contact with a galaxy of noirish characters, Can you give us some insight both into what a more or less typical noir protagonist is like and how such a one might compare/contrast with your own characters?

LES: It depends on what you mean “typical noir protagonist.” If you mean “typical” in what most people consider a noirish character to be I’m unable to answer that since my definition differs. Again, I think that most who would define noir subscribe to an image of a sociopath or a psychopath. That’s not my interpretation and I realize I’m in the minority. My own idea of what a noir protagonist is is much like my characters Jake Mayes in Just Like That. What was revealing to me was that several reviewers expressed surprise at a criminal who committed crimes “just like that;” i.e., without forethought, planning, etc. But, that’s what us criminal types do. Cathy Johns, then-assistant warden at Angola (The Farm) paid me the ultimate compliment when she read it, saying it was the “truest account of the criminal mind that she’d ever read.” It’s mostly in books, written by those who aren’t criminals and get their “insights” into criminals from other bad books or movies, where this kind of character appears. The vast majority of criminals operate more from a place of reaction than from planned action. The average criminal operates more like a Stone Age sensibility as a hunter. Thog comes across a dinosaur, has his spear with him, sees it and throws it and tries to kill the dinosaur. Thog doesn’t sit around with his cavemates and plan a bunch of details about a dinosaur hunt. It’s just what he does. He knows how to kill a dinosaur and when he comes across an opportunity, he simply takes it. It’s what most criminals do. They know how to break into a bar and so when they’re driving down the street and see a dark bar and nobody around… they take out their spear and attempt to slay the dinosaur.

Does that mean that criminals never plan their crimes? Of course not. I’ve been in on many “planning sessions.” What that usually amounted to my rappy and I agreed to meet at a bar to plan a break-in. We arrived, ordered drinks, and talked about a place we thought we could get into. For maybe 3-4 minutes, and then the conversation got down to the really important stuff—like which girls in the bar we could separate from their lame-ass boyfriends. Most of the “planning” talk was about how much money we figured we’d get and whether we thought the guy closing the bar was a “laundry basket” guy or a “trash can” guy. Most bars hide the day’s receipts either in the dirty laundry or in the trash can. You can pretty well count on it. There are a couple more places these folks like to hide the money in, but 80% of the time, that’s where you’ll find it.

And that would be the “planning” stage. Then, after we broke into that place, we’d just drive around and pick other places out at random. Most nights when I was a burglar, we’d hit an average of 4-5 places, based on how the target place “looked” at the time I was cruising by. There were nights when we’d hit over ten places and there was no planning at all. Just taking advantage of an opportunity or our mood. I did over 400 burglaries and only got “caught” at one of them and that was a job I didn’t want to do but got talked into. We all know the cops aren’t likely to catch us unless they just happen to be driving by and hear or see something. Most crimes are “solved” when somebody happens to get caught and then they roll over on their rappies. Mostly, it’s criminals helping catch other criminals. Most outlaws don’t worry about cops catching them. Not unless they’re planning on knocking over a donut shop or a strip club. You just avoid robbing or holding up regular cop hangouts…

WW: Two of your latest, Just Like That and The Bitch feature Jake Mayes, whose struggles to survive both in prison and on the outside create wire-to-wire dramatic tension. You point out in your foreward to Just Like That that  parts of the book are autobiographical. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to ask the cliché: How much of Jake’s psychology and situation is Les?

LES: In Just Like That, Jake’s psychology and situation is almost all mine. It’s based on several road trips I took with a friend and it’s based on the time I did in various jails and in prison and on my own experiences. Of course I never killed anyone—that’s a capital crime with no statute of limitations—but just about everything else is almost verbatim from my own experiences and state of mind. In The Bitch, Jake’s psychology is mine but the situation isn’t. That’s a purely fictional situation. But, I’m pretty sure Jake reacts to everything just about like I would and makes the same choices I would.

WW: Noir and other crime fiction is often stereotyped as what the MFA crowd likes to call “action-driven” (as opposed to “character-driven” or “voice-driven”), meaning car-chase crazy and devoid of ideas. Yet, I’m impressed to the degree to which your work involves important moral conflicts. I find this particularly true of your upcoming The Rapist. How about a comment on the central philosophies and principles that underly your tales?

 

LES: First, I wouldn’t pay much attention at all to what the “MFA crowd” said or thought. To be honest, who cares what they think? Most are still trying to write and promote what’s called “literary fiction” and anybody who walks into any bookstore knows that’s a kind of writing that’s gone. To deny it doesn’t make it less gone. It just makes that crowd the same sort of crowd who tried to keep the whale oil industry going… A curious artifact of society.

I think those kinds of comments are from folks who don’t know the difference between an action thriller such as Lee Child writes from a crime-themed story such as Elmore Leonard writes or a short story such as Paul D. Brazill pens. They practice “selective reading.” They see the crimes and car chases and all that and don’t see what else is going on on the page. Plus, when they walk into the clothing store that they hang out at—the one that still sells sport coats with leather patches on the sleeves—or at the local coffee shop that offers 16 kinds of soy lattes—they can group together and put down all those they see as inferior. They kind of remind me of the first rule of poker. If you can’t spot the sucker at the table… it’s you. The folks they’re putting down are down the block on the shelves of Barnes & Noble… and their books aren’t. So, who’s inferior? I just don’t pay much attention to what these folks say or think. They’re just not important to anything but their own little circles. Kind of like the whale oil supporters…

 

WW:You are not only a terrific writer, but a gifted teacher. How much and in what ways has your teaching influenced your writing?

LES: A lot. The way I teach is via the workshop method where all the students comment on each other’s work as well as me. When I see a writer taking a wrong turn or doing something that I’m pretty sure is going to hurt him or her in getting published, I can’t simply point it out and say, “Don’t do that.” I’m compelled to tell him why. It’s not just “Rule #12.” There are sound reasons why not to do something. By having to come up with a valid reason I’m forced to look at my own writing with the same critical eye.

WW: Name two or three of your favorite Noir authors–past or present. Maybe discuss what makes them powerful.

LES: There are so many! This truly is the age of literature and in particular, noir. I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I think I’ll stick with dead folks. At the top of the list would be Harry Crews—may he rest in peace or at least with plenty of Jack Daniels. I think Faulkner was a great noir writer. As were Dostoevsky and Celine and Camus. The best was a guy most wouldn’t think of as a writer of noir, but I do. For one of his books only. I’m referring to David Sedaris and his great book, Barrel Fever. Pure noir. The rest of his books, no. After that book, it looked like he was trying to channel Dave Barry and not doing a good job of it. Made his stuff more “PC” which ruined it for me.

WW: What’s next?

LES: You mean books, right? Well, I’ve been working on a noIrish thriller for several years now, titled The Fixer. Not going to talk about it simply because whenever I talk about a book I’m working on, I kind of “talk” the book out and it becomes hard to write—I feel like I’ve already done the work. Briefly, it’s about a New Orleans guy who’s a hitman, but of a different variety. He makes all his hits look like accidents. For instance, he infects one of his targets with rabies while she’s asleep. When she wakes, she doesn’t even know she’s infected and the nature of rabies is that when you know you’ve got it… it’s too late, booby.

He works for a woman he calls “The Arranger” who… well,arranges all his jobs for him from her “office” at her permanent table at Commander’s Palace on Magazine. A lot of things go wrong for him…

I’m also beginning a novel somewhat like The Rapist in tone. It’s about a guy (kind of like me) who’s in prison and this straight comes in to lead this writing class for the inmates. This teacher is a crime novelist who’s sold bazillions of copies of his books. My protagonist has a bit of a jones against this guy. This writer-dude has all kinds of wrong bullshit in his novels. Things like calling shanks “shivs” and hacks “bulls” for which he’s lauded by other lames on the bricks who don’t know any better than he does. The writer himself hangs out in strip clubs and thinks he’s amongst the criminal element. He has tattoos obtained in commercial shops—no prison ink for this guy. He’s constantly getting his characters in fights and he wins all of them. My inmate protagonist just sees through this guy as a complete phony and detests him. He sees him the way Texans see certain types, as a guy who’s “all hat and no cattle.” The writer-dude thinks they’re friends and keeps acting like he “understands” him and the other inmates. So, my inmate guy initiates a riot and during the riot he grabs this guy and for three days has him in his cell and along with other inmate friends has him some fun with the guy. At the end of it, the guy can truly claim to have witnessed the criminal mind up close and personal and can from then on write with verisimilitude. Only, he doesn’t much feel like writing after his experience…

I’m also bringing out my Writer’s Digest how-to, Finding Your Voice, in ebook format. Should be available soon.

Carl, thank you for this opportunity! I’m at the age where I’m only interested in saying what I really feel and don’t much care if I piss anyone off. One of the reasons I enjoy being a writer is that I don’t have to worry about stating my opinion. I won’t lose any life insurance policy sales or insult the school board and lose my job… It’s kind of liberating when you can speak the truth.

WW: And so you have. Deepest gratitude for contributing to Writer Working. You got my blood up a few times here, and I’m sure  you’ve pissed off a couple of other readers as well. And helped our understanding of Noir at the same time. Good Show!!!.

LOUIS L’AMOUR RIDES ON

SPECIAL GUEST ARTICLE

In a first for Writer Working, we’re hosting an interview by actor/writer Stephen Jared (Pictured with Burger Magnate Jack, above) with Louis L’Amour’s son, Beau, originally posted on www.stephenjared.com.

We’ve published several commentaries on Louis L’Amour’s works here in the past (see LOUIS AND HIS JUBAL SACKETT, FOR A GOOD TIME, GO TO SAINT LOUIS (L’AMOUR, THAT IS) MONUMENT ROCK and COLLECTED SHORT STORIES, BACK TO THEM THAR DAYS) and we were happy to find Jared’s entertaining  flesh-and-blood conversation with Beau, which  greatly enriches our treasure of  information about this literary icon.

 

As an actor Stephen Jared has appeared in numerous feature films and television series, as well as commercials for both radio and television. His writings, including articles and interviews, have appeared in various publications. In 2010, he self-published an adventure novel titled Jack and the Jungle Lion to much critical praise, including an honorable mention in the 2011 Hollywood Book Festival. His second novel, Ten-A-Week Steale, has been picked up by Solstice Publishing and is scheduled for release in 2012. He lives in Pasadena, California.

 

For the original interview and a lot more about Stephen himself, visit the website. Once again, that’s www.stephenjared.com.

 

HERE’S THE INTERVIEW

The Adventures of Louis L’Amour and The Diamond of Jeru

 

As a huge fan of great adventure stories and old Hollywood, I had been enamored for some time with a movie Louis L’Amour’s son made called, The Diamond of Jeru. I didn’t know a great deal about Louis L’Amour. I knew he was one of several celebrated American authors who got started in the pulps and that he primarily wrote westerns. I had read one of his short stories, which was The Diamond of Jeru (I read Jeru after seeing the movie adaptation by his son – I get a little obsessive about these things).
So, one morning I went to Beau L’Amour’s house and he graciously spoke with me for a couple hours. I discovered a lot about Jeru; most importantly, that it is but a single rare gem in a vast treasure chest full of wonderful stories, and that all of these stories serve to colorfully illustrate an extraordinary life lived.

When tales of adventure in the American West broadened to the exotic Far East, Arabia and the South Seas, then to war-torn Europe in the first half of the 20th Century, Louis L’Amour was actually there. He was a chronicler of the people he had seen and the places he had been.

“My great-grandfather was killed by Indians up in North Dakota, and scalped. My grandfather had fought Indians, and some of the Indians my grandfather had fought, used to come around and visit him. They’d sit around and talk over the old days and drink a lot of coffee and tea, loaded half full of sugar. But after my grandfather died, they never came back. I missed them very much, always enjoyed seeing them come.” – Louis L’Amour

Born in 1908, Louis L’Amour grew up on the edge of the American West. He would listen to his grandfather’s stories of life as a soldier in both the Civil and Indian Wars. Louis would often meet cowboys as they’d pass through the Dakota Territory on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Young Louis remembered being impressed one day with the sight of Buffalo Bill Cody. As well, an uncle would tell of days spent in the Hole-in-the-Wall pass eyeing Butch Cassidy and other outlaws in the notorious hideaway.
Eventually Louis would hobo across the country on his own, hopping freight trains and sleeping in grain bins and gaps in piles of lumber. He would stuff newspapers in his clothes to keep warm. In Texas, he worked for a man who had been raised by Indians. In New Mexico, he baled hay, always absorbing the people he’d meet and the lives they lived.

“Billy the Kid and two of his pals were buried in a place right across from where we were bailing hay one day, and I commented on it, and one of the fellas said, “Well, gee, if you’re so into him, talk to old Tom over there. He used to ride with Billy.” Now, Tom wasn’t one of these guys who said he rode with Billy the Kid; Tom is on record for having rode with Billy the Kid. He’d been riding with him, wounded in gun battles with Billy, and been in jail with him. He’d been a rough boy in his day. He taught me a lot about the west, about gunfighters.” – Louis L’Amour

Traveling further west, Louis made his way to California, arriving in the port town of San Pedro. He signed up for Marine Service then waited three months for a ship that needed him. The one with the vacancy was officially called The Steel Worker, but it was known among the more experienced seamen as “Hell Ship.”
The Steel Worker’s first stop was Japan, where Louis visited Yokohama, Nagoya and Kobe, before heading south to Shanghai. The year was 1926 and long months passed with the future writer spending time in Borneo, then Java, Sumatra, Singapore, and Port Swettenham near Kuala Lumpur. Threats among the crew over rough conditions kept tensions on the ship high. Finally they climbed northwest to Egypt and Arabia. Passing through the Suez, The Steel Worker made its last stop in Port Said, before finally returning home to New York City.
Louis would spend years drawing from these experiences exotic tales cast with seamen, soldiers of fortune and the gangsters he encountered in such remote places. He began to make a name for himself in publications like Thrilling Adventures, Sky Fighters, and American Eagles.

“My dad would say that, before World War II, if you told someone in a bar that you’d been to Borneo they’d call you a liar, and you’d end up in a fight. Even though there were people doing that …most weren’t.” – Beau L’Amour

In his mid-thirties, the world was at war again and Louis L’Amour entered the United States Army. He was sent to England first then Europe where he served as a second lieutenant before being promoted to first lieutenant. He commanded a platoon in Germany and France.
Once the war finally ended, he returned to the United States. The market for adventure stories had gone. And so, an editor friend, while in Manhattan, suggested to Louis that he do some writing based on the tales he’d been reciting about the Old West.
Louis would go on to earn numerous awards for his western prose. Movies and audio dramas were adapted from his stories. Such talents as John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery, and Tom Selleck have brought his characters to life in films. Eventually, Louis L’Amour became one of the most popular American fiction writers ever, selling over three hundred million books.
Since his father’s passing in 1988, Beau L’Amour has done a remarkable job keeping Louis L’Amour’s stories alive. One third of all Louis’ books have sold since the late 1980’s. Four million copies of audio dramas have sold through Random House Audio Publishing, with Beau working as supervising producer, writer and director. Many have been recorded in an “old time radio theater” style with multiple actors, music and sound effects (www.sonofawantedman.com). And, in 2001, Beau returned to the exotic tales and enthusiasms of his father’s pre-War days by adapting to film an old jungle adventure story written for the pulps.

The Diamond of Jeru, starring Billy Zane, Keith Carradine and Paris Jefferson, contains many classic elements of adventure, reminding audiences of films like King Solomon’s Mines, The African Queen and Casablanca. Set in 1955, it follows a war-scarred American, down on his luck in Borneo. He is hired by a wealthy couple to find a large diamond in a jungle full of dangerous natives.
The screenplay by Beau reveals the sophistication of one who has written many, as there are subtle moments throughout that have a rippling effect expanding the depth of time, place and people.

Beau speaks with tremendous authority and pride in his father’s work, and I did not take lightly the privilege of spending a little time with him.

Stephen Jared: What did your dad think of Hollywood? Did he like movies?

Beau L’Amour: He wasn’t particularly pleased with any of the versions of his movies. He was pleased with Hondo. But later felt it was a good movie for its time, but wasn’t timeless. In general, he liked movies. He continually hoped that a good film would be made from one of his. He was somewhat unhappy that it didn’t happen.

SJ: Tell me again the story of you and your dad seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark.

BL We went to the noon performance the first day it opened in Westwood. We had a great time. We got to the part where Indiana Jones is with the snakes in the Well of the Souls and my dad leaned over and said, “I wrote this,” and a few minutes later there was the fight around the plane with the big guy, and dad said, “I think I wrote this too.” Truly, there is a scene that is fantastically similar to the snake scene in a story of his called South of Suez. In Wings Over Brazil there is a scene not quite so similar to the fight around the plane. But he wasn’t suggesting plagiarism just that –

SJ: He was an influence –

BL Yeah, maybe –

SJ: Did he miss writing adventure stories, once he committed himself to westerns?

BL: Yeah. He really enjoyed writing the westerns, but I think in the late ’70’s he started to feel a little stifled. He started making forays into writing other things and had a hard time selling them. He wrote The Walking Drum in the early ’60’s, which was an adventure set in the 11th century. It wasn’t received with enthusiasm, although when he finally sold it in the 1980’s, it became a New York Times bestseller. He also wrote The Last of the Breed about a pilot shot down over Russia who has to escape. The character was a Native American and so he has to recreate the migration out of Central Russia to Alaska. That was written in ’84-’85. He was planning on two sequels to Walking Drum when he passed. He was agonizing over how to write his autobiography, which would have included many adventure-esque elements.

SJ: How did The Diamond of Jeru come to be made into a film?

BL: It started as a partially finished short story that my dad had abandoned, probably in the late ’40’s. It was sitting in a box that was left behind after he died. He left a room that was hip-high in loose paper, except for this trail that was about eighteen inches wide that went from the doorway to his desk – tons of material in there. Articles he’d clipped from magazines, his own writing, piled up books, artifacts buried. There were piles of manuscript pages in no order. The website (www.louislamour.com) now has a section called Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures full of compiled things left over.
A few years after we had gone through this archeological project, piecing all the manuscripts together, we started publishing collections of short stories. We published eight or nine books in all, and those books were all stories that had been uncollected, and at least half of which unpublished before that time. Some were intended for the magazine market that existed in the ’50’s; some were old pulp stories. So, we started editing these stories, and I’d sit down and work out exactly what mixture of stories would be put into these collections. The way I worked was to try to make sure a story worked with the least amount of my editorial impact. However, occasionally there was a story that needed a lot of work. The Diamond of Jeru was one of those. We originally weren’t going to publish it at all. Then our editor at Bantam Books called me and said this one collection was short. He asked if I could find something to bump it up a little. So, I looked at The Diamond of Jeru again. I worked on it myself and stretched the story from about fifteen pages to eighty. As a result of pretty much writing it myself, it became a story I knew very well.
Flash forward a year or two. A friend was working with a woman from the USA Network cable TV channel, and she mentioned to him they were looking to do a classic adventure movie. They were experimenting with various genres and wanted this old-fashioned type adventure film. So, my friend told her that he knew of someone who could get something like that to her. So, he called and described what they were looking for and roughly what the budget would be. The Diamond of Jeru seemed to fit the bill. They looked at it for just a couple days and purchased it.
It was a great opportunity. My friend, Mike Joyce, wanted me to come on as a producer, which was terrific. I had produced a couple movies before, but by then had pretty much left the business. I wrote the first draft of the script in three weeks. I had written scripts before and had trouble selling them. In fact, when I spent the three weeks writing The Diamond of Jeru script we were editing our audio drama, Son of a Wanted Man, which was based on an unproduced screenplay of mine.

SJ: How much did The Diamond of Jeru cost?

BL We shot in Australia with a four million dollar budget. The value of the dollar was greater there. Had we shot in America it would have cost seven to eight million. So, we got a lot of beautiful stuff for the money. We manufactured pretty much everything in the movie. Here in Los Angeles, when you need something, there’s a rental house where you can get it, not in Queensland. We manufactured canoes, native costumes, European costumes. We had this giant factory-like space. It was like an experience from early Hollywood. It was fantastic to be, not only in a foreign country, but to be working there, and with a couple hundred interesting people. Twenty years earlier, there was a TV series shot there based on a story of my dad’s called Five Mile Creek. Our director’s wife had been an editor on Five Mile Creek, and the actor, Peter Carroll, who played Vandover in Jeru had been on the show. So, I was running into people who I had tangential old relationships with.

SJ: Some of my favorite adventure movies have been ones made for television: King Solomon’s Mines with Patrick Swayze, Around the World in Eighty Days with Pierce Brosnan, which goes back a bit; the relatively recent Arabian Nights, is another example. Is it easier to get a good adventure movie made on TV these days, rather than in the multiplexes?

BL In the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, USA Network had this wonderful, fresh idea to try new things, which almost never happens in Hollywood. Their idea seemed to be to do a whole series of films, each in a different genre. It was great to be a part of that. One of the things I’ve learned is that in order to sell something, there has to be a pre-existing need for that product. Had I taken The Diamond of Jeru to any other outlet, there’s no question that every single person would have turned me down. It just happened that these people already had in mind doing something like this. My friend, Mike, knew exactly the size of the film they wanted to make and so, when we sat down to talk about it, we were specific, even to the point where we set it in the ’50s. Originally, I think they would have preferred something set in the thirties – they were mining Raiders of the Lost Ark territory – but we knew setting it in the ’20’s or ’30’s would up the price on it significantly.

SJ: Getting back to your dad for a bit, he considered himself a storyteller, not a western genre author –

BL Right.

SJ: Why, after World War II, did adventure stories go out of style?

BL It was a trend in the late ’40’s – the population had a little too much adventure. In the broader picture, in the early days of American fiction, westerns were not anachronistic. They were contemporary adventure stories. They were stories of current conditions taking place in the American West. As the West was settled, the unsettled territory, where things were chaotic enough to be dramatically interesting, became other places in the world.

For writers of other nationalities, the settings for their stories already were other places in the world. Just after the western period, you have suddenly H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Talbot Mundy, among others.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, incidentally, wrote a couple westerns, The War Chief and Apache Devil. In the 1890’s, Burroughs, whose father fought in the Civil War, went to Idaho and lived like a cowboy. He rode the range, herded cattle, spent time in what was still a volatile part of the country. After that, he joined the 7th Cavalry in the Arizona Territory, which was General Custer’s old regiment.
So, eventually the West, the place where adventure stories were often set, became the Far East. And eventually, by the end of World War II, these exotic locations, which had been the settings for all these stories were now considered to be less attractive, and much better known, because of the returning soldiers. So, you’d have a hard time selling an adventure story to a guy who’d been to these places and had suffered there. There was a romance to these places that writers had injected into their work, and all that was, at least to some degree, lost during such a costly war. So, after World War II, the western now offered a chance for readers to feel nostalgic.

SJ: Given how much smaller the world is today, and with stories that hope to appeal across the globe, and with at least a small degree of xenophobia perhaps being an essential ingredient to adventure stories, do you think the classic adventure genre is dead?

BL Well, I don’t know how possible this is to do in Hollywood but if you can accurately portray the time period, the setting for the story, then some things can be more easily forgiven. Helen, for example, in The Diamond of Jeru, is clearly a smart, tough woman, and yet she’s treated at times by her husband in a somewhat misogynistic manner, and she tolerates it in a way that a character like that set in modern day wouldn’t. If you add enough human complexity to the characters you can make the whole piece more relatable and more easily understood. My favorite adventure movie, hands down, is The Wind and The Lion. The hero is a noble, Islamic Moroccan, and it’s acceptable and wonderful.

SJ: The Wind and the Lion and The Man Who Would Be King both came out in 1975. What a year for Sean Connery. I’ve said for a long time that 1975 to 1985 was as good a ten year period as any of Hollywood’s previous great decades.

BL I agree. It was also a period when series TV was pushed to look much better and then in the ’90’s the writing caught up with the quality levels of the production values, and now series TV is probably where all the great performance writing has been in the entertainment business. It would be great to lure those writers back to films so we could have less homogenized work in theatres.

SJ: Do you think westerns will ever make a comeback?

BL No. Every ten years you might have something, but essentially it comes down to this: the type of person who is a creative executive is not someone who likes westerns. They seem, from my experience, to be embarrassed to be even talking about making a western, and it’s definitely not something they can go to lunch with their peers and brag about. And that’s the key. Is it something that is socially acceptable within the pool of people in Hollywood who make films? Westerns are socially acceptable for directors to talk about – they love it. Actors love it. Creative executives don’t.
In television it’s different. Television never goes too many years without experimenting with a western. I get into arguments with people about something like Deadwood. I won’t say I’m a big Deadwood fan, but if you want westerns to go on, you can’t regulate them to basically being this one particular kind of thing. You have to let them be Deadwood. Otherwise you strangle the genre until there’s nothing left. A lot of western fans want all westerns to be like old westerns. They don’t want anything new. You don’t have to like a show that has someone pissing in a corner every half hour, but they do have to be open to people trying things like that.

SJ: You’re returning to The Diamond of Jeru now with an audio drama. Why Jeru again?

BL We started doing this radio drama style book-on-tape in the mid-’80’s. That business turned more to single actor readings, and so we steered away from it for a while, but then when we put the website together, Paul O’Dell and I thought it a great opportunity to go back to it. So, we took my unproduced script, Son of a Wanted Man, and made it as an audio drama. When we finished Wanted Man, we asked the people at Random House Audio if they were up for another, and they were. These shows are expensive but they get a lot of press, so they felt it was worth it.
So, all together, since 1986, The Diamond of Jeru might be our 70th audio drama and, out of those, only one other was not a western, and I did not want to do another western. It was just getting old to record horse-hooves and squeaking leather and all that, so I wanted to do something different. When I considered what to do, it occurred to me that The Diamond of Jeru still had stuff to say. In this new Jeru, the characters, for example, are considerably more vulnerable. Also, the publishers require a certain length, which is much longer than the length of a movie. It’s taken us in some new and different directions.

SJ: And, I understand you’re working on a biography project of your father?

BL Yes. It might stretch over three books. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll be getting more into that in the new year.

For a more thorough read of Louis L’Amour’s around the globe adventures, visit www.louislamourgreatadventure.com

SPECIAL GUEST ARTICLE–LOUIS L’AMOUR RIDES ON

SPECIAL GUEST ARTICLE

LOUIS L’AMOUR RIDES ON

 

In a first for Writer Working, we’re hosting an interview by actor/writer Stephen Jared (Pictured with Burger Magnate Jack, above) with Louis L’Amour’s son, Beau, originally posted on www.stephenjared.com.

We’ve published several commentaries on Louis L’Amour’s works here in the past (see  and we were happy to find Jared’s entertaining  flesh-and-blood conversation with Beau, which  greatly enriches our treasure of  information about this literary icon.

 

As an actor Stephen Jared has appeared in numerous feature films and television series, as well as commercials for both radio and television. His writings, including articles and interviews, have appeared in various publications. In 2010, he self-published an adventure novel titled Jack and the Jungle Lion to much critical praise, including an honorable mention in the 2011 Hollywood Book Festival. His second novel, Ten-A-Week Steale, has been picked up by Solstice Publishing and is scheduled for release in 2012. He lives in Pasadena, California.

HERE’S THE INTERVIEW

The Adventures of Louis L’Amour and The Diamond of Jeru

As a huge fan of great adventure stories and old Hollywood, I had been enamored for some time with a movie Louis L’Amour’s son made called, The Diamond of Jeru. I didn’t know a great deal about Louis L’Amour. I knew he was one of several celebrated American authors who got started in the pulps and that he primarily wrote westerns. I had read one of his short stories, which was The Diamond of Jeru (I read Jeru after seeing the movie adaptation by his son – I get a little obsessive about these things).
So, one morning I went to Beau L’Amour’s house and he graciously spoke with me for a couple hours. I discovered a lot about Jeru; most importantly, that it is but a single rare gem in a vast treasure chest full of wonderful stories, and that all of these stories serve to colorfully illustrate an extraordinary life lived.

When tales of adventure in the American West broadened to the exotic Far East, Arabia and the South Seas, then to war-torn Europe in the first half of the 20th Century, Louis L’Amour was actually there. He was a chronicler of the people he had seen and the places he had been.

“My great-grandfather was killed by Indians up in North Dakota, and scalped. My grandfather had fought Indians, and some of the Indians my grandfather had fought, used to come around and visit him. They’d sit around and talk over the old days and drink a lot of coffee and tea, loaded half full of sugar. But after my grandfather died, they never came back. I missed them very much, always enjoyed seeing them come.” – Louis L’Amour

Born in 1908, Louis L’Amour grew up on the edge of the American West. He would listen to his grandfather’s stories of life as a soldier in both the Civil and Indian Wars. Louis would often meet cowboys as they’d pass through the Dakota Territory on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Young Louis remembered being impressed one day with the sight of Buffalo Bill Cody. As well, an uncle would tell of days spent in the Hole-in-the-Wall pass eyeing Butch Cassidy and other outlaws in the notorious hideaway.
Eventually Louis would hobo across the country on his own, hopping freight trains and sleeping in grain bins and gaps in piles of lumber. He would stuff newspapers in his clothes to keep warm. In Texas, he worked for a man who had been raised by Indians. In New Mexico, he baled hay, always absorbing the people he’d meet and the lives they lived.

“Billy the Kid and two of his pals were buried in a place right across from where we were bailing hay one day, and I commented on it, and one of the fellas said, “Well, gee, if you’re so into him, talk to old Tom over there. He used to ride with Billy.” Now, Tom wasn’t one of these guys who said he rode with Billy the Kid; Tom is on record for having rode with Billy the Kid. He’d been riding with him, wounded in gun battles with Billy, and been in jail with him. He’d been a rough boy in his day. He taught me a lot about the west, about gunfighters.” – Louis L’Amour

Traveling further west, Louis made his way to California, arriving in the port town of San Pedro. He signed up for Marine Service then waited three months for a ship that needed him. The one with the vacancy was officially called The Steel Worker, but it was known among the more experienced seamen as “Hell Ship.”
The Steel Worker’s first stop was Japan, where Louis visited Yokohama, Nagoya and Kobe, before heading south to Shanghai. The year was 1926 and long months passed with the future writer spending time in Borneo, then Java, Sumatra, Singapore, and Port Swettenham near Kuala Lumpur. Threats among the crew over rough conditions kept tensions on the ship high. Finally they climbed northwest to Egypt and Arabia. Passing through the Suez, The Steel Worker made its last stop in Port Said, before finally returning home to New York City.
Louis would spend years drawing from these experiences exotic tales cast with seamen, soldiers of fortune and the gangsters he encountered in such remote places. He began to make a name for himself in publications like Thrilling Adventures, Sky Fighters, and American Eagles.

“My dad would say that, before World War II, if you told someone in a bar that you’d been to Borneo they’d call you a liar, and you’d end up in a fight. Even though there were people doing that …most weren’t.” – Beau L’Amour

In his mid-thirties, the world was at war again and Louis L’Amour entered the United States Army. He was sent to England first then Europe where he served as a second lieutenant before being promoted to first lieutenant. He commanded a platoon in Germany and France.
Once the war finally ended, he returned to the United States. The market for adventure stories had gone. And so, an editor friend, while in Manhattan, suggested to Louis that he do some writing based on the tales he’d been reciting about the Old West.
Louis would go on to earn numerous awards for his western prose. Movies and audio dramas were adapted from his stories. Such talents as John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery, and Tom Selleck have brought his characters to life in films. Eventually, Louis L’Amour became one of the most popular American fiction writers ever, selling over three hundred million books.
Since his father’s passing in 1988, Beau L’Amour has done a remarkable job keeping Louis L’Amour’s stories alive. One third of all Louis’ books have sold since the late 1980’s. Four million copies of audio dramas have sold through Random House Audio Publishing, with Beau working as supervising producer, writer and director. Many have been recorded in an “old time radio theater” style with multiple actors, music and sound effects (www.sonofawantedman.com). And, in 2001, Beau returned to the exotic tales and enthusiasms of his father’s pre-War days by adapting to film an old jungle adventure story written for the pulps.

The Diamond of Jeru, starring Billy Zane, Keith Carradine and Paris Jefferson, contains many classic elements of adventure, reminding audiences of films like King Solomon’s Mines, The African Queen and Casablanca. Set in 1955, it follows a war-scarred American, down on his luck in Borneo. He is hired by a wealthy couple to find a large diamond in a jungle full of dangerous natives.
The screenplay by Beau reveals the sophistication of one who has written many, as there are subtle moments throughout that have a rippling effect expanding the depth of time, place and people.

Beau speaks with tremendous authority and pride in his father’s work, and I did not take lightly the privilege of spending a little time with him.

Stephen Jared: What did your dad think of Hollywood? Did he like movies?

Beau L’Amour: He wasn’t particularly pleased with any of the versions of his movies. He was pleased with Hondo. But later felt it was a good movie for its time, but wasn’t timeless. In general, he liked movies. He continually hoped that a good film would be made from one of his. He was somewhat unhappy that it didn’t happen.

SJ: Tell me again the story of you and your dad seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark.

BL We went to the noon performance the first day it opened in Westwood. We had a great time. We got to the part where Indiana Jones is with the snakes in the Well of the Souls and my dad leaned over and said, “I wrote this,” and a few minutes later there was the fight around the plane with the big guy, and dad said, “I think I wrote this too.” Truly, there is a scene that is fantastically similar to the snake scene in a story of his called South of Suez. In Wings Over Brazil there is a scene not quite so similar to the fight around the plane. But he wasn’t suggesting plagiarism just that –

SJ: He was an influence –

BL Yeah, maybe –

SJ: Did he miss writing adventure stories, once he committed himself to westerns?

BL: Yeah. He really enjoyed writing the westerns, but I think in the late ’70’s he started to feel a little stifled. He started making forays into writing other things and had a hard time selling them. He wrote The Walking Drum in the early ’60’s, which was an adventure set in the 11th century. It wasn’t received with enthusiasm, although when he finally sold it in the 1980’s, it became a New York Times bestseller. He also wrote The Last of the Breed about a pilot shot down over Russia who has to escape. The character was a Native American and so he has to recreate the migration out of Central Russia to Alaska. That was written in ’84-’85. He was planning on two sequels to Walking Drum when he passed. He was agonizing over how to write his autobiography, which would have included many adventure-esque elements.

SJ: How did The Diamond of Jeru come to be made into a film?

BL: It started as a partially finished short story that my dad had abandoned, probably in the late ’40’s. It was sitting in a box that was left behind after he died. He left a room that was hip-high in loose paper, except for this trail that was about eighteen inches wide that went from the doorway to his desk – tons of material in there. Articles he’d clipped from magazines, his own writing, piled up books, artifacts buried. There were piles of manuscript pages in no order. The website (www.louislamour.com) now has a section called Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures full of compiled things left over.
A few years after we had gone through this archeological project, piecing all the manuscripts together, we started publishing collections of short stories. We published eight or nine books in all, and those books were all stories that had been uncollected, and at least half of which unpublished before that time. Some were intended for the magazine market that existed in the ’50’s; some were old pulp stories. So, we started editing these stories, and I’d sit down and work out exactly what mixture of stories would be put into these collections. The way I worked was to try to make sure a story worked with the least amount of my editorial impact. However, occasionally there was a story that needed a lot of work. The Diamond of Jeru was one of those. We originally weren’t going to publish it at all. Then our editor at Bantam Books called me and said this one collection was short. He asked if I could find something to bump it up a little. So, I looked at The Diamond of Jeru again. I worked on it myself and stretched the story from about fifteen pages to eighty. As a result of pretty much writing it myself, it became a story I knew very well.
Flash forward a year or two. A friend was working with a woman from the USA Network cable TV channel, and she mentioned to him they were looking to do a classic adventure movie. They were experimenting with various genres and wanted this old-fashioned type adventure film. So, my friend told her that he knew of someone who could get something like that to her. So, he called and described what they were looking for and roughly what the budget would be. The Diamond of Jeru seemed to fit the bill. They looked at it for just a couple days and purchased it.
It was a great opportunity. My friend, Mike Joyce, wanted me to come on as a producer, which was terrific. I had produced a couple movies before, but by then had pretty much left the business. I wrote the first draft of the script in three weeks. I had written scripts before and had trouble selling them. In fact, when I spent the three weeks writing The Diamond of Jeru script we were editing our audio drama, Son of a Wanted Man, which was based on an unproduced screenplay of mine.

SJ: How much did The Diamond of Jeru cost?

BL We shot in Australia with a four million dollar budget. The value of the dollar was greater there. Had we shot in America it would have cost seven to eight million. So, we got a lot of beautiful stuff for the money. We manufactured pretty much everything in the movie. Here in Los Angeles, when you need something, there’s a rental house where you can get it, not in Queensland. We manufactured canoes, native costumes, European costumes. We had this giant factory-like space. It was like an experience from early Hollywood. It was fantastic to be, not only in a foreign country, but to be working there, and with a couple hundred interesting people. Twenty years earlier, there was a TV series shot there based on a story of my dad’s called Five Mile Creek. Our director’s wife had been an editor on Five Mile Creek, and the actor, Peter Carroll, who played Vandover in Jeru had been on the show. So, I was running into people who I had tangential old relationships with.

SJ: Some of my favorite adventure movies have been ones made for television: King Solomon’s Mines with Patrick Swayze, Around the World in Eighty Days with Pierce Brosnan, which goes back a bit; the relatively recent Arabian Nights, is another example. Is it easier to get a good adventure movie made on TV these days, rather than in the multiplexes?

BL In the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, USA Network had this wonderful, fresh idea to try new things, which almost never happens in Hollywood. Their idea seemed to be to do a whole series of films, each in a different genre. It was great to be a part of that. One of the things I’ve learned is that in order to sell something, there has to be a pre-existing need for that product. Had I taken The Diamond of Jeru to any other outlet, there’s no question that every single person would have turned me down. It just happened that these people already had in mind doing something like this. My friend, Mike, knew exactly the size of the film they wanted to make and so, when we sat down to talk about it, we were specific, even to the point where we set it in the ’50s. Originally, I think they would have preferred something set in the thirties – they were mining Raiders of the Lost Ark territory – but we knew setting it in the ’20’s or ’30’s would up the price on it significantly.

SJ: Getting back to your dad for a bit, he considered himself a storyteller, not a western genre author –

BL Right.

SJ: Why, after World War II, did adventure stories go out of style?

BL It was a trend in the late ’40’s – the population had a little too much adventure. In the broader picture, in the early days of American fiction, westerns were not anachronistic. They were contemporary adventure stories. They were stories of current conditions taking place in the American West. As the West was settled, the unsettled territory, where things were chaotic enough to be dramatically interesting, became other places in the world.

For writers of other nationalities, the settings for their stories already were other places in the world. Just after the western period, you have suddenly H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Talbot Mundy, among others.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, incidentally, wrote a couple westerns, The War Chief and Apache Devil. In the 1890’s, Burroughs, whose father fought in the Civil War, went to Idaho and lived like a cowboy. He rode the range, herded cattle, spent time in what was still a volatile part of the country. After that, he joined the 7th Cavalry in the Arizona Territory, which was General Custer’s old regiment.
So, eventually the West, the place where adventure stories were often set, became the Far East. And eventually, by the end of World War II, these exotic locations, which had been the settings for all these stories were now considered to be less attractive, and much better known, because of the returning soldiers. So, you’d have a hard time selling an adventure story to a guy who’d been to these places and had suffered there. There was a romance to these places that writers had injected into their work, and all that was, at least to some degree, lost during such a costly war. So, after World War II, the western now offered a chance for readers to feel nostalgic.

SJ: Given how much smaller the world is today, and with stories that hope to appeal across the globe, and with at least a small degree of xenophobia perhaps being an essential ingredient to adventure stories, do you think the classic adventure genre is dead?

BL Well, I don’t know how possible this is to do in Hollywood but if you can accurately portray the time period, the setting for the story, then some things can be more easily forgiven. Helen, for example, in The Diamond of Jeru, is clearly a smart, tough woman, and yet she’s treated at times by her husband in a somewhat misogynistic manner, and she tolerates it in a way that a character like that set in modern day wouldn’t. If you add enough human complexity to the characters you can make the whole piece more relatable and more easily understood. My favorite adventure movie, hands down, is The Wind and The Lion. The hero is a noble, Islamic Moroccan, and it’s acceptable and wonderful.

SJ: The Wind and the Lion and The Man Who Would Be King both came out in 1975. What a year for Sean Connery. I’ve said for a long time that 1975 to 1985 was as good a ten year period as any of Hollywood’s previous great decades.

BL I agree. It was also a period when series TV was pushed to look much better and then in the ’90’s the writing caught up with the quality levels of the production values, and now series TV is probably where all the great performance writing has been in the entertainment business. It would be great to lure those writers back to films so we could have less homogenized work in theatres.

SJ: Do you think westerns will ever make a comeback?

BL No. Every ten years you might have something, but essentially it comes down to this: the type of person who is a creative executive is not someone who likes westerns. They seem, from my experience, to be embarrassed to be even talking about making a western, and it’s definitely not something they can go to lunch with their peers and brag about. And that’s the key. Is it something that is socially acceptable within the pool of people in Hollywood who make films? Westerns are socially acceptable for directors to talk about – they love it. Actors love it. Creative executives don’t.
In television it’s different. Television never goes too many years without experimenting with a western. I get into arguments with people about something like Deadwood. I won’t say I’m a big Deadwood fan, but if you want westerns to go on, you can’t regulate them to basically being this one particular kind of thing. You have to let them be Deadwood. Otherwise you strangle the genre until there’s nothing left. A lot of western fans want all westerns to be like old westerns. They don’t want anything new. You don’t have to like a show that has someone pissing in a corner every half hour, but they do have to be open to people trying things like that.

SJ: You’re returning to The Diamond of Jeru now with an audio drama. Why Jeru again?

BL We started doing this radio drama style book-on-tape in the mid-’80’s. That business turned more to single actor readings, and so we steered away from it for a while, but then when we put the website together, Paul O’Dell and I thought it a great opportunity to go back to it. So, we took my unproduced script, Son of a Wanted Man, and made it as an audio drama. When we finished Wanted Man, we asked the people at Random House Audio if they were up for another, and they were. These shows are expensive but they get a lot of press, so they felt it was worth it.
So, all together, since 1986, The Diamond of Jeru might be our 70th audio drama and, out of those, only one other was not a western, and I did not want to do another western. It was just getting old to record horse-hooves and squeaking leather and all that, so I wanted to do something different. When I considered what to do, it occurred to me that The Diamond of Jeru still had stuff to say. In this new Jeru, the characters, for example, are considerably more vulnerable. Also, the publishers require a certain length, which is much longer than the length of a movie. It’s taken us in some new and different directions.

SJ: And, I understand you’re working on a biography project of your father?

BL Yes. It might stretch over three books. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll be getting more into that in the new year.

For a more thorough read of Louis L’Amour’s around the globe adventures, visit www.louislamourgreatadventure.com

 

For the original interview and a lot more about Stephen himself, visit the website. Once again, that’s www.stephenjared.com.

WALKING NOOMOANIA AND THE BOOGIE WOOGIE FLEW

 

 

X-Ray clear. No tumors, no noomoania, no heart failure. You better in fact you well. Ok you right. Act all right you be all right except who all right wakes up at two am shivering and puts on more clothes and covers and still shivering and climbs in a scalding water still shivering answer me that question ms clear X-Ray. Ok maybe not so well after all X-Rays not everything can’t see into the soul of your sickness, just skim along the top kinda tells you a lot but not like I said not everything by a long shot so try these here pills I’m gonna send down to the store for them to be ready for you.

So what if it’s been three weeks you been up tottering then flat back down again and sleeping and coughing Not so long back they did all that for months over and over the strongest and weakest of them and the ones that died which were legions lighted their way to dusky death so quit complaining then I wouldn’t be human so whining makes you human

Take pills be glad you feeling pained at least you feeling something you feeling nothing you be you know what