Today, we conclude our conversation with novelist Andrew Klavan, two-time Edgar Award winner and author of Damnation Street (Harcourt). He has written such bestselling thrillers as True Crime (adapted to film by Clint Eastwood), and Don’t Say a Word (made into a film starring Michael Douglas), before turning his craft to hard-boiled stories like those first inspired him to write. A former newspaperman, he is not afraid to express his strong opinions—on such topics as former President Bill Clinton, the film United 93, and religion— on the Op-Ed page of the L.A. Times, and also on Klavan's Blog.
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WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Get a law degree, like your mother told you. No, seriously, I tell them this: If you don’t have to do it, don’t. It’s a very, very hard way to go. I’ve been so fortunate to do well at it and make a living but the odds are all against you. And because the product is so deeply connected to your inner life, it’s terribly crushing when you fail.
And no matter how successful you are, you will fail—and in such a wonderful variety of ways too. Your book can get great reviews and not sell; it can sell but get demolished by the critics; it can not sell and get panned; it can even succeed in the marketplace and the press while you’re in agony because you secretly know it’s crap. And that’s if you can get the thing published! Writing has to be like prayer for you, it has to be integral to your spiritual life. You have to need to do it. Then, see, the bliss of it, the expansion of feeling and insight and vitality it gives you, make up for everything.
WHAT DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
My characters aren’t me and my stories aren’t my daydreams.
WHAT DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That complaining about contracts, agents and book tours is a boring waste of life.
FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT?
Oh gosh, you’re asking the wrong guy. I’m so bad at all this stuff. I spend all my time working and I’m incredibly uninterested in making contacts and pressing the flesh and so on. Nowadays, a lot of the young writers I meet are more interested in self-promotion than actually writing. They network and shmooze and know the business inside out, and God bless them. But I’m the opposite: every sojourn I have to make outside the world of my imagination is a trial and an interruption. If my wife didn’t feed me and take care of me, I’d end up on the street.
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Many thanks to Andrew Klavan. Find him online at AndrewKlavan.com. You can also follow his blog, and sign up for his newsletter.
Q&A: ANDREW KLAVAN, PT 1
Q&A: LINDA GILMORE (short story writer)
Q&A: BRANDT DODSON (Seventy Times Seven)
Q&A: ERIC WILSON (The Best of Evil)
Q&A: JON L. BREEN (Eye of God)