Interrogation—Ryan Sayles

Who: Ryan Sayles

What: Author of SUBTLE ART OF BRUTALITY, WARPATHTHAT ESCALATED QUICKY! and the forthcoming GOLDFINCHES and I’M NOT HAPPY ‘TIL YOU’RE NOT HAPPY. He’s had over two dozen short stories in print and is a founding member of Zelmer Pulp.

Where: Missouri

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

I just read your intense and engrossing novel, THE SUBTLE ART OF BRUTALITY. How did you develop the “h​alf predator and half savior” c​haracter of ​Richard Dean Buckner? How about the story?

First off, thank you for the compliments. They really do mean a lot. The idea of Buckner popped up in 2006 while I was stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area. I wanted to write a hardboiled character who was so hardboiled he was scraping the line between awesome and cartoonish. I wanted to crank everything up to eleven and have people like him because everything he did was the writing equivalent of the scene in an action movie where a cool guy walks away from an explosion and doesn’t turn around. Eventually I found my voice with him and I feel comfortable where I landed.

The story was based on a real life event of mine. The house my wife and I bought had a woman who lived here before us. Delilah from SAOB made the same mistakes she did. In the book the Bellview couple was loosely based on us. A guy really did come to our front door asking for the woman. I found a crack pipe in our basement ceiling. Having the real life sketch of this woman’s troubles and mistakes, I just filled in the blanks as to why she’d gone there and then had Buckner look for her.

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