Interrogation—Jedidiah Ayres

Photo on 2013-05-27 at 08.13 #3Who: Jedidiah Ayres

What: Jedidiah Ayres is his real name.

Where: St. Louis

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I tore through PECKERWOOD, your small town epic from Broken River Books. What inspired you to write this story? How did you come up with the three main characters—Terry, Jimmy and Chowder?

Thanks, I’m glad somebody finally tore through it. Most folks say it took a huge guilt trip from me and a whole lot of mood-altering substances to finish it. And they never follow that up with comments about how glad they were that they stuck with it.

I actually wrote it when I failed to write the sequel. I was writing a novel that I couldn’t crack the structure of—I didn’t want to split it into two parts and I didn’t want to rely heavily on flashbacks. That novel (SHITBIRD) is about what happens in the aftermath of the events of PECKERWOOD… I realized I had to back up and write an entire other book to come before the original story I wanted to tell.

As far as the characters go—Terry is just me without a filter or functional conscience. He’s completely without the concept of responsibility or the social contract and un-interested in anything that doesn’t serve himself or immediately gratify whatever whim he’s taken with at the moment. Easily the most fun character to write and also the most unnerving. I’d step back from his point of view and think, “wow, that escalated quickly.” But I loved being able to let go with him. He has absolutely no need to justify himself.

Jimmy, on the other hand, does. He feels the weight of responsibility for the well-being of the folks he polices, but he’s also a pragmatist and engages in plenty of illegal and immoral activity in an attempt to protect and serve. When I feel guilty, I write Jimmy. He’s a moral failure like me—claiming ideals he can’t live up to. He’s of a prototype I first became interested in exploring after watching the Matthew McConaughey character, Buddy Deeds, in John Sayles’s amazing 1996 film Lonestar. Go see that film if you haven’t. You’ll thank me. I’ll wait.

Chowder is the devil Jimmy knows. He’s a lesser evil—a career criminal, but not a psychopath, not without conscience—someone Jimmy can reason with. Their relationship is symbiotic and they both seem to understand what they and their partner bring to the deal. I like too that he’s a small business man, who’s locally sourced and giving back to the community… and pretty evil. I hope there’s a nice contrast there.

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Interrogation—Eryk Pruitt/ Noir at the Bar, Bouchercon

NOIR BAR RALEIGHWho: Eryk Pruitt

What: A screenwriter, author and filmmaker living with his wife Lana and cat Busey.  His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the U.S.  His fiction appears in The Avalon Literary Review, Pulp Modern, Thuglit and Zymbol, to name a few. In 2015, he was a finalist for the Derringer Award for his short story “Knockout.” His novels, DIRTBAGS and HASHTAG, are available in e-book and paperback. He is also the founder of Noir at the Bar, Durham, and organized Noir at the Bar,  Raleigh Bouchercon.

Where: Durham, N.C.

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

How did you first find out about Noir at the Bar? Did you attend Noir at the Bar events in other cities before you launched the one in Durham? 

I kept stumbling upon them across the internet and wanted to attend one, possibly get the stones to read at one after a while. I traced them back to Jed Ayres and asked him what Durham had to do to get one, so I could experience it. He said “You got to start one yourself.” He helped me find authors who would drive to Durham and it was a blast. We had great readers and afterward, I had a night on the town with Grant Jerkins, Peter Farris and Charles Dodd White, which could not be beat. The next one we did featured eight authors from the immediate area. We had another. I’ve read in Baltimore and at Shade in New York City. It was my first time up there and man, it was a total hoot. I’ve never met nicer people.

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