Interrogation—Max Booth III

max author photoWho: Max Booth III

What: Author of three novels, Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishingan editor of Dark Moon Digest, and an ongoing columnist at LitReactor and Slush Pile Heroes. He works as a hotel night auditor. 

Where: San Antonio, Texas

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

Your latest book, HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS, is about a writer who kidnaps an obnoxious book reviewer. Was there one specific review that inspired you to create this story? Have you ever had an altercation with one of your reviewers?

The concept of the novel was partly inspired by news stories at the time about this author confronting someone who gave her book an awful review on Goodreads. Like, actually tracking the reviewer down in person. Maybe the author killed the reviewer, or maybe they settled their differences over pies. And there was another author who lost his or her shit on a Goodreads review and just completely embarrassed himself/herself in the comments section trying to defend the book. Of course, now I can’t remember who either of the authors were, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t imagine these stories.

The weirdest altercation I’ve had with a reviewer was back in January I wrote a column for LitReactor about how reviewers do not have to finish a book before reviewing it. If a book really is that bad, then it is perfectly reasonable to review it without finishing. Well, the same day that article was published, I noticed very cruel one-star reviews on all of my novels. It was obvious the reviewer was just doing this to prove some kind of insane point. Anyway, I figured out it was some lunatic, who is—surprise, surprise—also an author. I probably would have shrugged and moved on, if not for the fact that this dude actually lives here in San Antonio with me and we go to a lot of the same local conventions. So I messaged him and asked what the hell his problem was, and he freaked out and started private messaging my close friends and family about how he “got one over on the legendary Max Booth III”. Long story short, I looked at his own books on Amazon and discovered an abundance of one-star reviews from people who admitted to not finishing them due to excessive rape scenes, so I guess my article just hit him where he was sensitive. I’m still waiting for him to eventually murder me.

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Quick Quotes—The Week In Publishing

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“Brilliant one-of-a-kind artists sometimes never find the recognition they deserve because Lady Luck didn’t happen to smile down at the right moment. In fact, they fail to be recognized more often than not.”—Brian Panowich at Writer’s Digest

“I await the day when the compulsion to sort every cultural artifact that comes along into the proper genre category — dismissing a movie because it’s “just a horror film” or a book because it’s “just a Y.A. novel” — becomes as déclassé as it’s rapidly becoming to categorize and dismiss people on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”—Dana Stevens at New York Times

“All writing begins with an idea, but the process between that initial spark and a finished draft can vary considerably dependent on the finished product’s purpose.”—Leah Dearborn at LitReactor

“I believe that books find you when you need them most.”—Michelle Brafman at L.A. Review of Books

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Anthony Neil Smith at Bad Citizen Corporation

“Writing is a solitary act. I think that’s why there’s a certain type attracted to the art. People who want an outlet where they can say things to themselves, and let people take it up on their own time. The thought of getting a crowd to come out to a place and then you stand in a spotlight is scary enough. The idea that no one actually cares enough to show—that’s worse.”—Rob Hart at LitReactor

“It may seem counterintuitive to eliminate your most popular books, but purging erotica and romance titles may be the only way for Scribd model to survive.”—Lincoln Michele at Electric Literature

“In today’s fast-paced dating world, who’s got time to sit down and read a book about modern romance?”—Josh Modell at The A.V. Club

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Quick Quotes—The Week In Publishing

—Jennifer Maloney at Wall Street Journal

“We risk producing a generation of children who believe that a sentence such as ‘I bounded excitedly from my cramped wooden seat and flung my arm gracefully up like a bird soaring into the sky’ is always better than ‘I stood and put my hand up’.”— at The Guardian

“Short books have different economics in the digital era. Delivering data is so cheap that there’s no threshold that must be met to cover the costs of shipping and stocking. Paying someone to walk down a warehouse aisle or unpack a book and put it on the shelf—a big reason why the rule of thumb of an 80,000-word minimum evolved—is no longer a concern.”—Peter Wayner at The Atlantic

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Josh Stallings at Bad Cittizen Corporation

“Capturing the reader’s attention is one of the toughest tasks writers face. These days, that task must be accomplished quickly.”—B.K. Stevens at The First Two Pages

“When you’re publishing books from beyond the grave, anything is possible.”— Joe Queenan at Wall Street Journal

“We’ve lost the appreciation for simple messages these days. Somewhere along the way, we started associating great ideas with complex narratives, plot twists, and best seller’s lists; but simple truths found in children’s books are amongst the most powerful ideas out there.”—Autism Site

“Think of an outline as a roadmap. You can cut around construction or take a longer route to get in some sightseeing—but you’ll arrive at your destination (the completion of the first draft) so much sooner if you’ve got some semblance of a plan.”—Rob Hart

S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

“New Yorked” Is Out Today

unnamed-1“New Yorked” is easily one of the best debuts I have read. The characters are smart, funny and damaged, and the plot takes some truly interesting twists without tying itself in a knot. Most of all, I liked the tone of this novel, which captures the heart of crime writing in a thoroughly modern way.

I was lucky enough to connect with the author earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Rob Hart.

One of the many interesting things about NEW YORKED is the ongoing battle between “old New York” and “hipster New York”. How prevalent is that in real life? 

There’s some goofy shit in this book—like the guy who’s name is Ian but stresses that it’s pronounced “Eye-Anne.” That’s a real thing someone said to me once. I’m worried people are going to say a lot of this is ridiculous, not realizing I’ve seen and heard a lot of it. I’m endlessly fascinated by the new v. old clash. This place really will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not strong enough. People who’ve lasted wear it like a badge of honor, and really disdain people who show up out of nowhere and act like they own it. At the same time, New York is a city where people flock to live out their dreams and fantasies. It’s by nature a point of refuge. I’ve never read a book where I saw that play out, so I thought it would be a fun arena to play in.

hart1Is NEW YORKED a crime novel in your eyes? How important is genre to you as a writer?

Genre discussions make me go cross-eyed. If I was pressed I’d say it’s a little noir, a little literary. But I’m firmly in the class of: A good book is a good book, and I don’t care if it’s YA or poetry or literary or crime or a cookbook.

How did your experience as a former political reporter and a commissioner for the city of New York influence the novel? How did you make the transition from politics to writing fiction?

I was a reporter for four years, two of which were spent as a political reporter, then communications director for a politician, and after I left politics got a call to sit on a redistricting commission, as a commissioner. I got two things out of these gigs: Brutal efficiency and life experience.

The efficiency is—both reporting and politics are professions where if someone has to ask you for something, it’s already too late. You have to be able to do twelve things at once, and be fast and accurate and good at all of them. And I got to do and see some cool stuff that informed my writing. I like writing about New York, because I know a lot about it. The second book, set in Portland, was a little tough. I’ve been there half a dozen times, but I don’t know the beat of it. Which helped, a bit, because the narrator doesn’t either. But it really showed me how much New York is my comfort zone. As for making the transition—I’ve always been writing, it was just hard to find the time. My productivity exploded after I took the job with MysteriousPress.com, because suddenly I wasn’t working 24/7.

Read the whole interview HERE.
Buy NEW YORKED HERE.

S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.