Tag Archives: author

“Throwback” Interview with author T.C. Boyle by Frank Mundo

I’ve interviewed a lot of amazing writers over the years. Unfortunately, I never collected my interviews anywhere for safe keeping, and many of them (most of them) are lost forever. In January 2010, I interviewed author T.C. Boyle for a magazine that, more than eight years later, is no longer around, and I thought this was one of the interviews that was lost forever as well (since only a teaser version is recorded here on my blog) — which sucked a big one because I really liked what he had to say.

Luckily, I was cleaning out my emails the other day, and I found my correspondences with Mr. Boyle, one of which had the interview attached. So yay for being lazy and not cleaning out my email.

I’m posting the interview here as a throwback piece and to keep a record of it. I’m hoping to find some of my other interviews I really enjoyed as well. In the meantime, here is my interview with author TC Boyle from January 2010:

The Reviews:
Very few writers have had long-term success at writing both novels and collections of short stories. One of these writers is TC Boyle, distinguished professor at the prestigious creative writing program at USC and the prolific and long-renowned author of 12 novels and 9 short story collections.

On January 25th, 2010, both of these worlds will collide with the paperback release of Boyle’s newest bestselling novel, The Women, and the hardcover release of his latest collection of fiction, Wild Child – the perfect opportunity to see for yourself why TC Boyle has earned a solid reputation as one of our nation’s most humorous and entertaining storytellers in both genres.

In The Women, Boyle offers a mesmerizing fictional account of the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright told in reverse chronology through the eyes of four beautiful, passionate, and tragic women who truly loved him. This is Boyle’s third turn at fictionalizing the life of an enormous historical American figure — a triumvirate of egomaniacal geniuses, including John Harvey Kellogg (The Road to Wellville) and Alfred Kinsey (The Inner Circle), whose passions and accomplishments still affect us all today in one way or another.

In Wild Child, Nature is the main tool Boyle calls on to showcase his intelligent humor, surreal style, and socially-conscious sensibility, the hallmarks of his best work, in this excellent collection of 14 stories that gleefully remind us, despite our best efforts, that human beings are just animals once-removed by civilization.

In the title story, likely the one that will get the most attention by critics, Boyle shares his unique version of the wild boy raised in the wilderness by animals. But for new readers of Boyle’s work, or his fans in California, there are a few must-read stories that specifically address our own unique relationship with nature: “Ash Monday” (which discusses the California wildfires); “La Conchita” (based on the 1995 mudslide that buried 9 homes in Ventura); and “Question 62” that details the lives of suburban Californians turned upside down by a rogue mountain lion. The rest of the collection displays the amazing range and talent of a storyteller who lives up to the hype and always delivers the goods.

I especially liked the disturbing story “The Lie” in which a man, who has already used up all of his sick and personal days, lies to his boss about his newborn child’s death as an excuse to get out of work. This story alone is worth the price of admission.

The paperback version of The Women and Boyle’s newest collection of short fiction, Wild Child, are available in bookstores on Monday, January 25th. To learn more about TC Boyle, visit his website.

The Interview:
I had the great opportunity to interview TC Boyle recently. Please take a few more minutes to read this insightful and revealing discussion about his work and his life (including a bit on his next novel now in the works).

Q: Wild Child is your ninth collection of short stories, which coincides with the paperback release of your 12th novel, The Women. What compels or inspires you to write, and how do maintain such a prolific pace?

A: Oh, lordy, at the risk of dragging out the old clichés, let me just say that writing is my life and I cannot address the world without it. (Of, course, Hemingway had a solution for that.) There is an excitement to making art that is like an addiction, a phenomenon I discuss in my essay (at tcboyle.com) called, “This Monkey, My Back.” I never know what a given story or even novel will be and the thrill is in discovering it, sentence by sentence, day by day.

Q: You were born in New York , studied in Iowa , and then made your way here to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara . As fans and students of yours, we Californians have sort of claimed you as one of our own – as one of our best writers. Where do you see yourself in all of this and does geography affect your writing? 

A: I humbly thank all my fellow Californians for embracing me.  It is a joy and an honor to be amongst you.  However, I should say that I’d never been west of the Hudson till I was twenty-one, and then I went all the way west to Buffalo because my inamorata was a Buffalo gal.  Now–and ever since I started at USC in 1978– California is my home, and I ain’t never going back.  As for how this works out in my writing: I guess I will always be something of an interloper here and so perhaps I see things–or saw them–in a slightly different way, as, for instance, in The Tortilla Curtain.  The environment here excites me and it seems strange and new (whoever thought we’d settle in so comfortably with our quakes, our mudslides and firestorms?).  Many of my recent stories and novels reflect this, like “Ash Monday,” which deals with our fires, and “La Conchita,” which is built around the mudslide there, both of which are part of Wild Child.

Q: When I think TC Boyle, I think first entertainment, then music, then craft – all of which combine together into an art form that I genuinely appreciate and admire. In my opinion, you’re one of the few writers who seem to understand that you’re competing with TV, film, music, video games, social media and a billion other fun wastes of time. Is this a conscious effort on your part? Do you worry about your potential audience and the challenge of entertaining today’s “busy” readers?

A: All art is entertainment, lest we forget and try to seal it all away behind the gates of the university. I do what I do unconsciously, making stories because it seems natural to me and allows me to try to sort things out for myself. I am glad that you and others find them engaging on all levels. And yes, I do try to carve out a little place for my work amidst the noise of society and I do believe in giving an entertaining stage performance, but I do not write in order to attract attention or to have pieces to perform.  I know what will work on stage and what will not. And so I select. I also have to admit to being a little tiny bit of a ham and an extrovert, who used to shake out with a little rock and roll band.

Q: Going back to question 3, how much does music influence or affect your writing process?

A: I have never written anything without musical accompaniment. The musicality of the language and the beauty of its construction is the foundation for any story. Beauty, that’s what we’re after. All of us.

Q: I hate the saying, “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” As a former high school teacher and current college professor, how do you address this statement?

A: I teach because it is a major part of my life. What makes it even better is that I have been fortunate for many years now to have an audience for my work, so that there is no economic necessity to teach. But I love the interaction with my students, I love their discipline and talent, and I love being privileged enough to be their coach. In my case, anyway, I can do and I can teach too. Further, most of the professors I know teach out of love of the subject and, as is also true for me, as a way of giving back to the system and to the people who inspired us.

Q: As a humanist, your writing addresses a lot of social issues, especially in regard to science and religion – but you don’t offer a lot of answers or preachy messages in response. As you’ve work out these concepts in your writing over the years, have you come close to finding answers for yourself, even if you don’t often share them in your work?

A: Yes, I am concerned with social and environmental issues. What rational person is not? But advocacy and art do not mix. Art is a seduction. Good art invites the reader to think and feel deeply and come to his/her own conclusions. As for myself: I am in despair, caught between a Darwin and a hard place (see the story “Bulletproof” from this collection). I have no hope, no answers. What I do have to counterbalance nihilism is art, family, friendship, usefulness. But then, what is useful when we live only to die?

Q: You’ve had great success in writing both short stories and novels. Which do you prefer and (maybe you can settle the age-old dispute) which is harder?

A: I am equally at home with both and feel lucky to be able to turn to stories after a long exhausting bout of novel-writing — and vice versa.

Q: Kids today (uh oh, I’m sounding like my parents) seem less interested in reading than ever. What do you think this means to the future of writing and publishing? Are we doomed?

A: Yes, we are doomed. While I am deeply grateful to be taught in the classrooms of this country and abroad too, I hate to see the subversive and interactive process of reading a novel relegated to an assignment, like trigonometry. How many of us graduate and do a little trig in our spare time? Here is the ray of hope: books provide an experience that neither film nor video game can fully duplicate, because books — of fiction and poetry in particular — ask so much of individual readers and take them so very deep inside themselves. Of course, this way madness lies, I understand that, but there you have it. Read and get well. Or maybe read and get sick.

Q: How do you feel about e-books and e-readers? Do you use any of these devices?

A: I do not have a Kindle, though my books are licensed for its use worldwide. Our work (that of we writers) would have been stolen long ago, as has happened with movies, music, video games, except that no one cares enough to steal it. Beyond that, the audience for books, even as it dwindles, still wants to embrace the object. A book is beautiful in itself. This is why I have always petitioned for inviting and representative covers–books should look like the rock and roll album covers of a bygone era. Hold the book, enjoy it, stroke it.

Q: What books are you reading right now? Are there any writers you feel who deserve more attention than they currently receive?

A: Just finished Carol Sklenica’s biography of Ray Carver, which was so rich it was like drinking whale’s blood. And I’m rediscovering the multifarious delights of Walter Kirn’s 2001 novel, Up in the Air, which inspired the superb Jason Reitman movie of the same name. Funny thing, too, even though we are doomed (see above), both literarily and literally, there are whole hosts of amazing writers, writing away, and they are far too numerous to name. Go to the bookstore and ask around. They’ll tell you. And definitely check out the L.A. writer, Richard Lange. He’s a great new novelist.


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Two New Interviews

Very exciting! I was interviewed twice this week about my books and my life. I’ve posted links to both if you want to check them out

First, I had a Q and A with Jess C Scott about writing, my favorite poets and my novel in verse, The Brubury Tales, which is now available on kindle. (The Brubury Tales made Amazon’s bestseller list #81 in the UK, #40 in Italy, #99 in Spain!)

And, on April 28th I was interviewed by Laura Lme and Cecilia Francisquini on the Verses In Motion Show on GetYourz Radio | Blog Talk Radio. It was recorded live and you can listen to it now.  In the interview I read an excerpt from The Brubury Tales and discussed the book, its inspiration and origin.

Here’s a link to some previous interviews I did with the Cypress Park branch of the LA Public Library and author Susan Whitfield https://frankmundo.wordpress.com/category/author-interviews/

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Listening to Autism: A Son’s Voice, A Father’s Awakening

The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment & The Nathanson Family Resource Center at the UCLA Semel Institute Present A Free Talk

“Listening to Autism: A Son’s Voice, A Father’s Awakening”
Mark Osteen, professor at Loyola University Maryland and award-winning author of a new book, “One of Us: A Family’s Life with Autism” ( University of Missouri Press ), will speak about his life as the father of a son with severe autism. Osteen will share excerpts from his book, which was endorsed by Temple Grandin and was recently named one of nine poignant autism books by The Huffington Post.
During the talk, Osteen will convey lessons learned from his family’s twenty-one-year journey through adversity to understanding. He shows how parents should not just teach their children with autism, but also learn from them: learn how to listen, how to live in the moment, and how to accept their own disabilities. A UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment faculty member, Connie Kasari, Ph.D. will join the discussion.
More information is available on the EVENTS page of the UCLA website. http://www.autism.ucla.edu/. Book information is available at http://www.oneofusbook.com/ The event is FREE and open to the public. 
Thursday, June 16, 2011
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
UCLA Semel Institute Auditorium
760 Westwood Plaza, Room C-183
Los Angeles, CA 90024
More Info:         
For more information, to make reservations, or get parking details, please contact UCLA at 310.794.9584 or mcastaneda@mednet.ucla.edu.
*All events and speakers are subject to change without notice. Always confirm with venue before attending any event.
If you’d like to announce your Los Angeles area book events on LA Books Examiner, or the release of an upcoming book, send info at least 10 days prior to the email address under my bio. While you’re there, sign up for my emails and follow me on Twitter @LABooksExaminer.
Frank Mundo is the author of The Brubury Tales, which is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Borders in paperback and in eBook. 

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The Brubury Tales by Frank Mundo

After a decade of writing book reviews, interviewing authors and promoting local literary events, I finally finished my own book called The Brubury Tales.

The Brubury Tales [by Frank Mundo] is a landmark book, in what is going to be — and already is — an exceptional, distinguished literary career.” — Carolyn See, the Friday-morning book reviewer for the Washington Post and bestselling author of Handyman and There Will Never Be Another You.

An ambitious homage to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Brubury Tales takes Chaucer’s story and frame to Los Angeles just after the riots, where seven security guards on the graveyard shift swap tales in a hilarious storytelling competition for Christmas vacation time.

The tales themselves are “readable” updates of classic stories by Dostoevsky, Dickens, Boccaccio, O Henry, Poe, Twain, Gilman, Crane, Saki, Anderson, Bierce, and even Khayyam’s Rubaiyat. This edition also contains a special foreword by California literary legend, Carolyn See.

Purchase a copy of The Brubury Tales by Frank Mundo, or read an excerpt from the book.

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The Hypnotist: an interview with bestselling author MJ Rose

Author MJ Rose/Photo by Doug Scofield at LA Books Examiner Frank Mundo InterviewM.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of eleven books, including The Reincarnationist Series, a trio of first-rate thrillers that deftly combine suspense, mystery, history, romance and the supernatural into thrilling fast-paced reads. Rose’s latest book, The Hypnotist, the final installment in the series (which includes The Memorist, The Reincarnationist ) was released earlier this month by Mira Books. 

In the book we meet veteran FBI agent Lucian Glass, who is currently with the FBI’s Art Crime Team and who is searching for Dr. Malachai Samuels, current director of The Phoenix Foundation, an organization more than a century old, whose studies focus on reincarnation. Samuels, immoral and dangerous, is thoroughly obsessed with discovering The Memory Tools, meditation tools reportedly used by ancients to explore past lives. When a crazed art collector holds a 1,500-year-old sculpture called Hypnos (which is supposedly linked to paranormal powers) hostage by stealing and then destroying a priceless Matisse painting and threatening to destroy four more great works, agent Glass is forced to face the devastating events in his past, and perhaps even his past lives. Glass, a logical and rational skeptic of all things paranormal, will go undercover, and under hypnosis, at The Phoenix Foundation to face his demons and to get his man.

Interview with MJ Rose, bestselling author of the Hypnotist at LA Books Examiner Frank MundoThe case ultimately takes agent Glass to New York, Paris and Hollywood, not to mention his travels under hypnosis to Greece and nineteenth-century Persia that will challenge his reality, his beliefs, and even his sanity. Throughout the book MJ Rose weaves in art, archeology and an interesting debate about art and ownership as the sculpture at the heart of this story is claimed by both Iran and Greece. 

The Hypnotist by MJ Rose is available online and at bookstores everywhere. You can learn more about MJ Rose at her official website or her popular blog Buzz, Balls & Hype. For you writers out there, Rose is also the founder of the first marketing company for authors called AuthorBuzz.com.  

I  recently had the opportunity to interview MJ Rose about her book and her life. Please take a few more minutes to read the revealing interview at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner site.

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Becoming Alice: Interview with Author Alice Rene

Becoming Alice by first-time author Alice Rene is a powerful heart-wrenching memoir about the triumph over adversity, identity crisis, and the devastating effects of intolerance on her Jewish family during World War II.

Becoming Alice opens with a child’s first-hand account of the arrival of the Nazi war machine in Vienna in 1938. Six-year old Ilse Fell chronicles her family’s harrowing escape of Nazi persecution — a suspenseful adventure that takes them through Riga, Latvia, Russia, Japan, and finally to America, where a whole new set of struggles awaits the new immigrants.

What follows is a fascinating and authentic coming-of-age story in which Ilse must find her own identity in the midst of an overbearing father and a society she and her family never quite fit into.

As a writer, Alice Rene does an amazing job of balancing heartbreak and humor, tragedy and triumph in what ultimately is a positive and hopeful story of strength and perseverance that you don’t want to miss.

Becoming Alice by Alice ReneBecoming Alice is available now at Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, and iUniverse.

I met up with author Alice Rene recently and I had a few question for her:

Q. For many years you didn’t share your story with family and friends. What was it that finally made want to tell it? Was it really because of your grandson’s school assignment? Do you think that you might’ve told your story on your own eventually?

Read the full interview here.

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