Interview with… Gil Reavill
Posted by authorcamilson
Interview With Gil Reavill. Author of 13 Stolen Girls.
Gil thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you –
I grew up in the Midwest and came out of daily journalism to get into non-fiction, screenwriting and now crime fiction. I was lucky to have a screenplay I co-wrote get produced and released by Sony, a corrupt cop drama called Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Clifton Collins, Jr. My latest crime novel, 13 Stolen Girls, is all enmeshed in the world of filmmaking. Hollywood has such heights and depths, that it’s the greatest, most surreal background for fiction ever.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
In the most reductive sense, a neurotransmitter called serotonin kicks in. That statement might be a little fatuous, but I’ve come around to a biologically determinate view of life. If Napoleon had a script for Prozac, he wouldn’t have invaded Russia. Our choices—should I get up or sleep in like a slug?—are influenced by forces beyond our control. A depressive might stay in bed all day. Is that a choice? Is he or she not “inspired” to get up? It’s just a question of the right level of brain salts, which is largely determined by genetics. No blame, no judgment. I know I look forward to sitting down in front of my computer with relish every day. I fucking leap out of bed. That’s just me. I work at home in a log cabin in the middle of the woods. No commute. I listen to the traffic reports with a sort of schadenfreude-style vicarious glee. How hard can it be to get up when I can look forward to that?
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
There’s this guy named C.A. Milson… He probably is too busy to bother with a nobody like me, so I’d choose Janet Malcolm. She has a fiery intelligence, and such a no bullshit approach to life that I’d like to hang out with her to see if it might be contagious. My wife and I are both writers, and in our household, Janet Malcolm is a verb. To get “Janet Malcolmed” means you have been revealed as the fraud that you are.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
In the early years of the millennium I worked for a lad mag called Maxim. I did a series of four-thousand word true crime articles for them. The publisher called them “gritty reads.” One piece I worked on was about John Edward Robinson, the Kansas serial killer. The case haunted me forever afterwards. 13 Stolen Girls was to some extent a purgative. It helped get the case down on paper and out of my nightmares.
Tell us your writing process.
I write a lot in all sorts of styles. I do non-fiction, screenwriting, fiction, song lyrics, even a little drama. I usually have two or three projects going at once. Some time ago I stopped drinking and started writing. I figured that was a pretty good trade off. Usually I write with a set Mozart woodwind concerti going on. I work in four-hour blocks, one of them a day if I’m lucky, two if I am on fire, three if there’s a deadline hanging over my head. I try not to take my work too seriously. This Q&A will probably be late. I subscribe to the Douglas Adams view: “I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Do you have any tips you can share for authors who want to get the word out about their book?
13 Stolen Girls is an e-book. I’m not sure if anyone has really found the sweet spot in promoting e-books. Random House’s e-book imprint, Alibi, does a wonderful job. They are why I connected up with this blog. But digital publishing is so new that it’s still something of a shakedown cruise. It’s like mass market was in the early days of a half century ago, with Pocket Books and other pioneers. No one knew if pulp fiction was going to fly. But it eventually soared. I think digital is a natural home for genre writing. People who read mysteries and romances read a lot of them. I don’t even take my own advice about promoting. I know the old-time singer Sophie Tucker was an early genius at marketing herself. She was tireless. Whenever she hit a town for a concert, she’d collect names. She took down everyone’s addresses, the newspaper guys, the hotel clerk, the goddamned kid who delivered flowers to her room. Then when she was going to have another concert in that town, she’d send them all postcards. “Hey, I’m going to be singing nearby soon, stop by and we’ll have another great time just like we had before.” She used to say “Friendship is box office.” But that line comes with a caveat. I’d caution writers promoting their work not to mistake their friends for their audience. It’s a sad fact that a lot of times your pals won’t buy your book, even at the bargain basement e-book price of ninety-nine cents. You have a circle of personal friends, but when marketing your book what you are aiming for is a community of readers. That’s two different things. They might overlap, but often they do not. Another piece of advice for writers: be nice to C.A. Milson and do a Q&A for his blog! 🙂
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Early on. Sixth grade, I think. Poetry and song lyrics sucked me in. When I worked as a reporter, I became acquainted with writing as a less labored, cleaner, more uncluttered process. Do a story and move on to the next one. Don’t fuss, don’t look back. Later on, that helped me a lot with more creative work, like novelistic non-fiction and fiction.
Tell us about your main character:
All my characters are main! I remember a story about a screenwriter who went in to pitch a producer. He had like a dozen projects, he said. What’s your favorite? asked the producer. The screenwriter throws up his hands and said, They’re all my favorites! Layla Remington is my homegirl. I’ve gotten weary of detectives with substance abuse problems, with quirky psychological issues, or who are on the autistic spectrum in some way. I like the ideal of average. It’s probably a risky choice, but Layla doesn’t hit the bottle or put a spike in her veins, she doesn’t twitch or wash her hands obsessively. Those are my true heroes, the ones who simply put their heads down and do the work. I guess Layla resonates with people, since in her debut, 13 Hollywood Apes, she helped the book knock down a Thriller award nomination. Layla’s main defining feature is one of her environment. She’s a woman in a man’s world. I modeled her on a woman I met who for a long time was the only female homicide detective in the NYPD. The murder squad is still a masculine environment. It ain’t like it is in the movies.
What are you working on next?
I’m re-writing 13 Under the Wire, which is the third installment in the Layla Remington series. The plot takes us back in time to 2005, when Layla was a probie police officer just out of the academy. She has a ringside seat for a series of violent incidents in the family of a childhood friend. I’m really, really loving it. Layla always holds her card pretty close to her chest, but in Under the Wire she is intimately wrapped up with the victims in a way she hasn’t been in the first two books in the series. She’s in love, for one thing.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I smoke a mean brisket.
Who are your favorite authors?
Early on I became one of the many people whose life was twisted around by Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Chester Himes, Dashiell Hammett, Daphne du Maurier, Jim Thompson and James M. Cain.
What do you like to do with your free time?
Hike, canoe, read, see live music, but mostly just fool around in the long-running circus that is New York City.
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
It looks like my writing partner and I have a screenplay going into production. I state that fact so confidently, but I know that in movie making you can’t believe anything until the lights in the theater go down and the images start to dance onscreen. This one gets at the truth of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination, which definitely did not happen according to the widely accepted storyline promoted by the government, the media and the history books.
Where can people find you on the web?
I have an author page on Good Reads, one on Amazon and a personal website.
Any final thoughts?
I actually collect actual final thoughts. “I’m going to the bathroom to read.”—Elvis. “This is no way to live!”—Groucho. “Codeine….Bourbon.”—Tallulah Bankhead. “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”—Pancho Villa. “Surprise me.”—Bob Hope, when asked by his wife where he would like to be buried. “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”—Stonewall Jackson. “Pity, pity, too late.”—Beethoven. “I’m losing it.” —Frank Sinatra. “No.” —Alexander Graham Bell. “Yeah.”— John Lennon. “Drink to me.”—Picasso. “Say good-bye to Jack.”—Marilyn Monroe. “This is absurd.”—Freud.