by Gabino Iglesias
Josh Myers is a cool guy who likes to read and write books, so we got along from the start. After reading Feast of Oblivion, published by Copeland Valley Press in 2012, I wanted more of his fiction. He said he was working on something. That was good…for a while. Then I got impatient and started pestering him about it. In retaliation, he took his sweet time. Whatever. The point is that GUNS is almost here, and talking about it was the perfect opportunity to also ask Josh to show us his shelves. Dig it.
Who are you and what role do books play in your life?
I’m Josh, a guy from New Jersey who occasionally writes a book or two.
I love books to pieces. When I was young, my parents always encouraged me to read, no matter how weird the books were that I was drawn to. In grade school, my first few teachers had a deep love of books, and they really helped to instill that in me early on. And having become friends with a bunch of really talented writers over these past few years, man…it’s just the best. These are all people who share that deep, deep love of books. When I meet up with most of my friends, one of the first questions asked is, “So what have you been reading?”
There’s just something so great about a book that you can’t get from any other medium. I mean, I love movies and a fair amount of TV, but give me a book any day. I’m literally surrounded by them. There are books on all four walls of my room, and they bleed out into the rest of the house. Sometimes I worry about the shelves over my bed giving way and burying me under books, but in the grand scheme of things…is it really such a bad way to go?
[Flash forward to 2022: Josh Myers dies under a pile of books, last words reported to be, “Oh jeez, I was wrong, this blows.”]
If you had to get a tattoo of a cover, what cover would it be and why?
You mean besides this one?
I got this for a few reasons. One is obviously because I’m a big fan of Andersen Prunty. He’s one of my favorite writers, and a damn nice guy. But I also just really love that design. Brandon Duncan an insanely talented dude, and he absolutely killed it with the FUCKNESS cover. And it sort of speaks to my own slightly skewed sense of patriotism.
But back to the question.
Right off the top of my head, probably Matthew Revert’s HOW TO AVOID SEX. The book is so damn impressive, and I love that image on the cover. Plus, I imagine it would translate really well as a tattoo. So well, in fact, that it might end up happening sometime.
And I don’t think I need to tell anybody at this point what an incredible designer Matt is. His covers always blow me away. But his writing, too, is just extraordinary. I think a lot of people overlook that because of his stellar design work. I really believe the guy is one of the best writers going, though. I mean, have you read BASAL GANGLIA?
(Side note: I actually do plan on getting a tattoo of an image from Matt’s novel, THE TUMOURS MADE ME INTERESTING pretty soon.)
Desert island cliché question: you can only take ten books. Go.
That’s not fair and you know it.
I’m sure that five minutes after I send this I’ll think, “Oh nuts, I really should’ve included THIS, or THAT,” but as of right now (4:03 pm EST, 4/5/14), my desert island books are as follows:
CATCH-22 – Joseph Heller: I don’t think I can say anything about this that hasn’t already been said much better by someone else. One of my all-time favorites.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS – Kurt Vonnegut: As the asterisk tattoo on my arm will attest, I’m a pretty big fan of Vonnegut. It’s hard to pick just one of his books, but I think the overall madcap spirit of this one might just be my favorite. Then again, talk to me tomorrow and I’ll probably tell you CAT’S CRADLE.
BASAL GANGLIA – Matthew Revert: Buy. This. Book. Crushingly gorgeous stuff. One of the best I’ve read in years. I feel like it’s a book I’ll end up reading quite a few times throughout my life.
THE COMPLETE STORIES – Flannery O’Connor: Do I really need to explain this? O’Connor was, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most brilliant writers to have ever lived. And while I was tempted to pick WISE BLOOD, this is 550 pages worth of her genius.
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE – Benjamin Alire Sáenz: I enjoy a lot of Young Adult fiction, and I enjoy a lot of so-called “queer” fiction, so when one of my best friends recommended this, I bought it the next day. It’s an incredibly beautiful book. I can’t sing its praises enough.
THE DOOM MAGNETIC! TRILOGY – William Pauley III: Because sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned out-and-out weird action fun. Plus, it’s three books in one, so, technically, I WIN.
BLEEDING SHADOWS – Joe R. Lansdale: To be honest, I haven’t actually read this yet. But I’m a huge fan of Lansdale, and this is nearly 500 pages of stories and novellas. Should keep me grinning for a while.
LYNCH ON LYNCH – ed. Chris Rodley: If I can’t watch any David Lynch movies on this desert island, at least I can re-read this and get glimpses into the man’s brain.
ELMER GANTRY – Sinclair Lewis: Opening lines: “Elmer Gantry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk.” Total genius, and criminally underrated.
ROLE MODELS – John Waters: Maybe my favorite ever non-fiction book. Even if you don’t like his films (and boy oh boy, I DO), you can’t help loving John Waters. He’s a true inspiration. A saint for all the outsiders and minorities of minorities. This book could very well be my bible.
Are you answering this interview drunk? What role do you think boozing has played in your career?
I wasn’t when I started.
Not much until recently. With the next book I’m working on, I started taking a notebook to my favorite bar (Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope, PA) and jotting down notes while drinking beer. It’s surprisingly effective. It’s also a really good excuse to go drink.
Yeah, no, I’m wrong.
And maybe drunk.
Okay, so I live next to my grandparents, and most afternoons I go have a beer or two in the garage with my grandfather. During the writing of GUNS, starting in the very early stages, I would get ideas from the stories he would tell me from his youth (Catholic school, crazy relatives, etc) while we were having beers and shooting the shit. This was back when GUNS was still really rough ideas. From drinking with my grandfather, I got a character I really love, and a bunch of other things I can’t talk about without spoiling.
So I guess boozing HAS had a role in my “career” already.
Your next book took a while. Why did you make us wait so long? What were you reading while you wrote it? Do you hate us?
I made you wait because I like to feel important.
No, that’s not the case at all. I’m just a really slow writer. My work ethic when it comes to writing is pretty awful. And I wasn’t really used to writing something as straightforward as this story had to be, so there was a frequent feeling of “this isn’t working”. I very nearly gave up a few times. For a while I was pretty much resigned to the fact that the book wouldn’t be done until 2015. If not for the fact that Justin was already working on the art at that point, and if it weren’t for the group of friends who have been supporting me, this book definitely wouldn’t be finished right now. Hell, it probably would’ve been totally abandoned and I’d be drinking myself into oblivion.
But thanks to those people, what I have now is a book I am incredibly proud of. A book that I can shake in peoples’ faces while I drink myself into oblivion.
I was reading a lot of crime fiction while I wrote this one. Not exclusively, not by a long shot. But as it’s a crime story, it felt appropriate. Although I love crime fiction anyway, so I probably would’ve been reading the same things regardless.
As far as crime, I know I went through a ton of Ken Bruen and obviously Lansdale, some Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, Duane Swierczynski (a huge influence), Wallace Stroby, George V. Higgins, a few Hard Case Crime books, a touch of Derek Raymond, and James Sallis.
Beyond that, I was honestly reading quite a bit of YA. So maybe that odd dichotomy shows up in the book. Or maybe I’m drunk.
Yes I do.
In 3k words or less, answer the following question: why should we go out and buy GUNS?
Because Justin Coons and I have put in a whole lot of effort over the last year and a half to make this thing the best it can be.
Because it’s loaded with violence and vengeance.
Because Justin’s artwork is goddamn beautiful.
Because Matthew Revert’s cover design makes me so happy I could kiss him, but he’s in Australia and my lips don’t reach that far.
Because there are written extras by Matt, Justin, William Pauley III, and my awesome friend Kerry Cullen, who happens to be a really brilliant writer herself.
Because Chuck Copeland will give me a stern talking to if it doesn’t sell as many copies as he has determined it should sell. He won’t tell me how many that is, but I assume it’s over eight and less than twenty-two.
Because it’s a thinly-veiled tribute to my ailing hero, Tim Smith, and the music he made with his beautiful band, Cardiacs. Tim’s a lovely person who made lovely music and I wanted to thank him for that.
Because I got a tattoo of an image from the book and I’ll feel pretty dumb if nobody buys it.
Because books are made to be read, and with all the other options out there, it would put a big ol’ smile on my face to know that somebody read mine.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias