Beautiful Naked & Dead, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Beautiful Naked & Dead?
JOSH STALLINGS: It is a rip roaring fuel injected drug and booze filled sex laced hard-boiled noir novel. Moses McGuire, a bouncer in an East Los Angeles strip club goes on the road to discover who brutally murdered one of his dancers. Armenian mobsters, yuppy pornographers, hard guys and even harder women, these are the folk who people Moses’ world.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
JOSH STALLINGS: I discover characters as I write them in the first draft. I may have a simple idea, like an LA homicide detective, or Piper, I knew at 29 she would be considered the old lady of the strip club. But I learn who they are in the writing of that first draft. Then once I know them I go back in the next drafts and make sure their voice is clear and defined. I am lucky to have started out wanting to be an actor, so I studied a lot of plays. Shakespeare wasn’t half bad at defining characters, neither is David Mamet. Not shabby people to learn dialogue from.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
JOSH STALLINGS: Smart, witty, well read and not squeamish when things get real. I would have thought I was writing more for men but women seem to be falling for Moses. So I guess my ideal reader is not just a lover of noir, but really any one willing to take a chance on a new voice.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
JOSH STALLINGS: I wrote my first piece in the second grade, a play involving lots of sword fights. Since then I have worked writing screenplays, done some script doctoring and I’ve written music videos. Ten or more years ago I became disenchanted with Hollywood and started writing fiction. For myself at first, learning my craft. For six months I made a commitment to write a story a week. Most were crap, but they kept getting better, so I kept writing. Then I got the balls to write a novel. After a year and a half Beautiful Naked & Dead’s first draft was done.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
JOSH STALLINGS: I write the first draft as fast as I can. Writer Charlie Huston calls it “writing with velocity.” Just pound those keys and let it rip. I try and be bold and free, knowing I will smooth it out and patch up plot holes in future drafts. That first draft is the time when anything can happen, I try to surprise myself. Let the plot go where it will. I listen to loud music whilst typing. I drink coffee. I build a rhythm with the pounding of keys.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
JOSH STALLINGS: James Crumley is one of my guiding boozy lights. He ends Dancing Bear with this line; "I have learned some things. Modern life is warfare without end: take no prisoners, leave no wounded, eat the dead--that's environmentally sound." Man, I don’t know if I’ll ever write a line that good, but I can keep trying. Raymond Chandler inspires me and has since I was a teenager. Charlie Huston is one of my favorite of the modern batch of noir writers. And Ken Bruen, his tight merciless prose stuns me with every line. There as so many writers I love. I read ravenously, all sorts of writers and steal what I can from each.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
JOSH STALLINGS: Crumley’s Dancing Bear. Fine powerful painful funny novel.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
JOSH STALLINGS: Twitter, lots of Twitter, Face Book, guest blogs, Goodreads, and seeking any reviewer willing to give it a read.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
JOSH STALLINGS: With traditional publishing, you are ultimately trying to convince six or seven people that your book is worth reading. Publishing on Kindle you are suddenly talking straight to readers, letting them decide whom they want to read. I believe Kindle has democratized the publishing world. And that is a damn good thing.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
JOSH STALLINGS: Write the best book you know how to, then take it to writers better than yourself and let them tear it to shreds, pick your ego up and rewrite it again. Be wild with your first draft and merciless in your later drafts. Rewrite it and rewrite it. Make up for the lack of publishing house editors by finding editors to work for you. Don’t go to friends and family expecting them to help, they will improve your ego, but not your book. All this is to say, write a damn good book and then push the hell out of it. Ultimately books are sold by word of mouth, one reader telling another, so if the book is good it will find it’s audience.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Beautiful Naked & Dead, is garnering great notice from readers and reviewers alike. Out There Bad (Moses #2) will be published in early summer. He is currently working on the third Moses McGuire novel. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Erika, his bullmastiff Nelson, Lucy the lab pit mix and Riddle the cat.
For more info go to Joshstallings.net.
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