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A BRIEF INTERVIEW WITH j g sauls, March 26, 2014:

You’ve published two novels, the first two books of a trilogy. What are you trying to do with your writing?

I’ve written three novels – Double Feature Boy is an edit/re-write from publication (scheduled for June, 2014). And it is linked to the first two. It begins precisely at the conclusion of Devil’s Oath, with which it shares characters. I’m in the early stages of Devil’s Conquest, the concluding volume of the trilogy. So I’m achieving some notion of what I’m doing with my writing, as well as what I’m trying to do.

We can start with that. What are you doing with your writing?

So far, with a fairly stubborn realistic bent, I’m telling the stories of intelligent, reflective, contemporary characters who endeavor to be decent people while living meaningful, interesting lives.

Does anyone want to read that?

I hope so. For me, it’s an exploration of the most important issues. What makes a decent person? Where is the sweet spot of compromise between selfishness and selflessness? As for reader interest, I work really hard to keep the stories entertaining and provocative.

Why contemporary?

Maybe laziness. It’s what I know best without having to do much research. My oldest main characters were born in 1965. The Magician’s Secrets is set in late 2002. Devil’s Oath is late 2003 and early 2004. Double Feature Boy is 2004.

So looking back a bit more than a decade?

Revealing almost exactly when I began writing these books.

What took you so long?

Trial and error. And trying to be a decent person while living my own interesting life.

Name some of your favorite authors.

My aspiration for my writing is for it to be a cross between John LeCarré and Cormac McCarthy, perhaps with a sprinkle of Annie Proulx.

Why them?

Because Faulkner would be too much to hope for? Really, I like LeCarré for his storytelling style and British reserve, McCarthy for his stubborn discipline and insights, and Proulx for her unrestrained directness.

What sort of insights?

McCarthy’s monster, Chigurh, in No Country for Old Men, asks a man one might under different circumstances term a colleague, “If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?” As it happens, the man is a fellow assassin whom Chigurh has taken captive and is about to execute. The reader can take Chigurh’s question a number of ways. Perhaps it is a taunt. Perhaps it is psychological torture. To me, though, Chigurh is sincerely trying to share his knowledge, even with one who will only benefit from it for a moment or two.

Is Chigurh trying to be a decent person?

Hardly. But he does seem to be principled. It’s a start.

Your FBI Agent character, Rob Hanson seems to constantly be in trouble.

He’s no “company man.” A senior agent in my first office mused one day, “The FBI is the only organization you have to be honest to get into, and dishonest to stay in.” I don’t completely agree with his assessment (and I don’t believe he did, either), but it expresses the conflict between the individual agent and the Bureau. For many, sooner or later, there is a competition of values. It is universal and inevitable. For Rob, it is frequently a case of the FBI giving him tools and powers, and then forbidding him to use them.

He’d go crazy without his friends.

As would we all.


Copyright jgsauls 2014

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