Interrogation—Benoît Lelièvre

Author - 2Who: Benoît Lelièvre

What: Benoît Lelièvre is a pop culture blogger and author who is also a gigantic basketball nerd. He lives with his better half Josie and his dog Scarlett. You can read him on Dead End Follies, BallBallBallBall and in Zelmer Pulp anthologies.

Where: Montreal

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

DEAD END FOLLIES turned six this week. What was the inspiration for your site? How has it evolved in six years?

Late 2008, I started working the night shift at an IT helpdesk in Montreal. It was a brutal job and a crazy schedule. In many ways, it was the beginning of my adult life. I had spent my early adulthood sheltered in academia and I thought I was being clever for doing so until I began a master’s degree and started losing faith in the process. The time where someone looked over my shoulder and mopped up my messes was over, I was on my own.

I’d started a couple of blogs during my downtime at work, but I got quickly frustrated and bored because nobody was reading it. Then, I met David Dupree from Atheist Media blog, who happened to be working on my floor. He’s a very successful blogger who got millions of visitors. He taught me everything he knew about the business and soon enough, people were paying attention to me. It began as an author blog, but every expert on author branding recommended that I write reviews in order to display expertise, so it’s what I did. Novels and movies. I found out that authors were starved for quality feedback so I’ve quickly become a trusted source and, next thing I knew, I was being quoted as an expert. I built upon that.

Sex, Drugs, CocoaI was all over the place in the first year or so. I was writing fiction, reviews, opinion pieces, I was making every mistake in the book. I was talking to my colleague Jarrod Galloway one day (who became one of my best friends), telling him about this new crazy intense essayist I had just discovered named David Foster Wallace. He suggested that I read Chuck Klosterman. He said: ”it’s a little hipster, but I think it’s right up your alley.” The same week, I bought Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and it changed my life. I had found a guy who cared about the same things I cared about and who was infinitely more eloquent than I was about them. It was like I had found a big brother.

Klosterman helped me structure my thoughts, gave direction to my blog and helped me understand myself better. If he is not my favorite writer, he is on my goddamn Mount Rushmore. The Dead End Follies you know today is directly influenced by Chuck Klosterman. I try to deconstruct and get at the heart of everything I read/watch. I let go of pretty much everything but the reviews. I’ll do an authorly update whenever there is something to say, I’ll write an opinion piece once in a while, write about the things I’ve learned, but the core of the site is (and will always be) reviews.

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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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