Thursday, January 18, 2018

BEST REVIEW EVER!

Hi folks,

I hardly ever do this, but this review just meant so much to me I decided to post it here. This morning when I woke up, I went to my email as I always do. And there was an email from a guy that the writers on here will appreciate. It’s this kind of feedback for our work that keeps us writing. This is the kind of reward that those who work only for money or a pension or material things will never get to experience and why I feel truly sorry for them. And why I feel especially blessed.

This came at the perfect time. I’m really feeling kind of low with a back that isn’t recovering quickly from my spinal surgery, health rendered a blow by my COPD which forces me to lie down for an hour after I’ve been up for an hour, and most of all, the biggest struggle I’ve faced in life as I sweat blood to finish the novel I’ve been working on for over a year. John Talley’s words came at the perfect time in my life.

I will always cherish his generous words. Here’s what I read:


Hi Les,

jesus god
the bitch
what a book.

for some reason i saved it to read, long after i read all the others
so far

and
i wish it was still ahead of me;
it’s downhill now

in my not-up-to-it review on amazon i wrote
that you
run with the literary lions and prowl with the noir alley cats at the same time
and it’s a simple fact that you do so much so well

it’s like reading
the conductor of a fine orchestra leading strings
dragging nasty bows in a crooked line
down straight drum tracks -
every decision dirty down and right.
i guess i’ve read a two thousand novels
you know

all of them
the ones you’re supposed to and the ones you find
when you’re sneaking around the stacks

and never have i ever read a finer, meaner final line
holy macks:

where’s your shank?
in your hand, come give it to me

jesus les, have mercy
but you didn’t have mercy, not
any
the whole way through
on any of them

dude, exile on main street wishes
it rocked so goddamned hard and good.
fucking A.

the balls of The Bitch and The Rapist
the BALLS …
i ain’t ranking your stuff
but
those two novels
are miracles -
one more and the pope makes you a saint
i think.

may you write and paint whatever you want until you’re a hundred and twelve
and
then have fifty more years to count the money
and set it on fire.

you do it as good as anybody ever has, ever will, ever can
it’s just a fact.

jt



Click HERE  to purchase.

And then I went to Amazon and read his review (below). While it’s a terrific review and means the world to me, I really wish he’d posted the above as his review. It’s just pure poetry.

Amazon review
Easy to follow, hard to swallow - Les Edgerton has written another damn near perfect novel that bloodies your nose and grows your heart at the same time. Dude is one of the all-timers and can run hard with literary lions and noir alley-cats at the same time. I am in awe, again, and am gonna read this one over and over for all kinds of reasons - one of which is the best closing scene (and line) I've ever read. Do it, pull the trigger, buy The Bitch NOW.
All I can say is, Thank you, John.

Blue skies,

Les

Saturday, January 6, 2018

CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW

Hi folks,


A few months ago, Anthony Campbell interviewed me for Crimespree Magazine. Anthony asked some of the most intelligent questions I've ever been asked. Here's the interview and if you're interested in glomming onto a copy of the magazine, you can buy the ebook copy on Amazon here.

Not sure when the paperback copy will be available for sale, but when it is I'll post that info here.


Les Edgerton Interviewed
By Anthony Campbell
Issue 66 Crimespree Magazine

Les Edgerton isn’t the writer who is here to judge you; over the course of a few emails we traded back and forth, I found him to be one of the most receptive and open individuals I have had the chance to correspond with.
With over 19 books ranging from hard-boiled crime novels to business guides under his belt, not to mention the countless short stories he has had published, Edgerton certainly is a busy man with the honest work to show for it. Just this year, he informed he has “at least three more works of fiction coming.” Readers may have heard of him from THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, THE BITCH, THE RAPIST or THE DEATH OF TARPONS.
His current short story collection, LAGNIAPPE, is available through Down & Out Books. I was able to discuss two of his prior novels, THE RAPIST and THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING as well as history over two months of emails.





Anthony Campbell: Thank you again for taking the time to let me reach out and interview you. I wanted to start with a few questions on your 2013 novel, THE RAPIST. This was your first novel that I read and I found it to be quite the tour-de-force. Where did the idea of the novel come from?

Les Edgerton: The germ of the idea came from reading a Charles Bukowski short story, “The Fiend.” At that point, it was just a glimpse of a potential story, what Blake Snyder calls “the smell of the night on the road at dawn.” What does the term mean? It’s that germ of an idea for a story triggered by any number of stimuli. It can be a glimpse of something—the “smell of the rain on the road at dawn” for instance. Driving home from a night of partying, hung over, you turn onto a country blacktop and see a man hitchhiking in Army fatigues in the fine mist that’s falling. Aha! There’s a story about this guy, you think. You begin to imagine a character who’s passing through town—and you kind of visualize a story about him. If you’re David Morrell, you end up with a story titled, FIRST BLOOD.
Or, you hear a story about a man whose mother has just died and the police came to inform him and they’re put off by his seeming lack of emotion about the tragedy and become suspicious. If you’re Albert Camus, perhaps you write a story based on that anecdote you’ll title, THE STRANGER If you’re me, you come up with a story titled THE RAPIST.
All of us as writers get ideas triggered like this and any number of other ways. Thinking about the scene or idea makes us feel that there’s a story there. Usually, when we see or conceive of a story idea that way, it elicits a powerful emotion from us. The guy in our vision, standing on the road at dawn in a drizzle, wearing fatigues, triggers a feeling of sadness, say. We have an urge to write this guy’s story so that the reader will feel this same intense feeling of sadness as we do.
And so, we break out the Bic, turn on the ‘puter, put a piece of white paper in the Underwood and begin to write. And it fizzles out.
Why? As Blake Snyder says, we’ve simply fallen in love with an inspiration. That’s all it is. There’s no story there yet mostly because we haven’t yet come up with a story. All we’ve got is a guy standing in the rain on a blacktop and a feeling that this is a story. It’s gossamer. It’s not a story because we haven’t taken the time to think beyond this image very much.
This is what I suggest for those who get that “Smell of the rain…” kind of image and inspiration for a novel. Sit on it for a while. Think about it. Kick the tires. See if it has legs. See if you can see any depth in it. If something else comes up and diverts your attention away from it, that probably means the idea really wasn’t novel-worthy to begin with. But…the idea that won’t go away, that begs to be told, that begins to unfold in your imagination over a period of time of at least a month or two and hopefully even longer—that’s probably an idea that has legs and one you can run that marathon with.
And that’s what I did with THE RAPIST. Let it percolate in my brain for about ten years. I won’t go through the entire process, but I kept niggling the original idea around, adding a piece here, a piece there, until I had a bona fide story.

AC: How was constructing the character of Truman Ferris Pinter different than others you have made before? Was it more difficult to fit into his voice than others?

LE: Referring back to the first question, as the story began to take shape in my mind, Truman became clearer and clearer until I had him nailed. Not so much in a superficial way—what he looked like, for instance, but how his mind worked. How his background shaped him. What makes him different from most other rapists. Once I had that, his voice became mine. As Whitman said, “We contain multitudes.” And, we do. What I became was an actor playing a part. The more talent one has as an actor, the better he or she can mimic others. The catalyst came when I realized who he really was. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ whose father, God, played a cruel practical joke on. Oddly enough, this is where most reviewers missed the whole point of the story. Since most see him as an unreliable narrator, they saw the very last line as the absolute proof that Truman was an unreliable narrator. He was…until the very last line, which was the exact moment his eyes were opened and he saw clearly who he was for the first time in his earthly life. That was the illumination and why it had to be the end of his story. Everything that happened to him led to that precise moment when he realizes he’s Christ. And, it’s a true realization, not the “truth” of an insane person—an actual, literal truth. The veil has just been lifted.

AC: Many literary allusions abound and comparisons have been made to Camus’ THE STRANGER. I personally found the shape of this novel to fit in a similar vein as a Kafka story or a Lynch film. Do you find the comparisons by reviewers to be surprising? Have there been any which you had found to be of particular interest?

LE: I understand the Camus comparison but don’t think it’s accurate. I wrote it in a similar tone as THE STRANGER mostly because both Meursault and Truman view their experiences from an amoral standpoint. Also, many reviewers see my book as an existential book and reviewers often believe Camus was an existentialist writer. He fought against that opinion all of his life, at one point getting together with Sarte to run an add stating clearly that they had nothing in common, philosophy-wise. I am often referred to as an existential writer and I feel the same as did Camus. So, in basing that on an inaccurate belief system neither of us claims, it’s an accurate comparison. I think we’re both subject to a wrong take on our philosophies. I can also see you comparing it to a Kafka story. On the surface, it appears that Gregor and Truman are similar. Where I don’t think they are is that Kafka’s character both starts and ends as an unreliable narrator, Truman doesn’t, but to a certain mindset it appears they are the same. The reviewers I thought came closest to what I intended were Cort McMeel and William Joyce.

AC: Although Truman doesn’t seem to particularly care about the judgment society passes against him, by recounting his crime and life, he constructs a testimony for the reader. He places the reader as the judge. Does Truman care about what we, as readers, think of him?

LE: Although he claims he doesn’t, he’s an unreliable narrator which is fairly clear early. Since the way a reader tells the protagonist is an unreliable narrator is to match his actions to what he’s saying, and since he claims he doesn’t care, his action in presenting his story tells us he does care or else he wouldn’t have bothered telling his story.

AC: Still a few weeks after my first reading of this novel, the entire last part and the ending of the novel resonate with me, making me still question not only these parts of the novel, but more importantly, giving way to re-evaluating how I considered some things in society. When you finished writing this novel, did you feel like this was certainly something which readers would take away from? Did you think it would make readers challenge preconceptions and ideas they held?

LE: What I hoped for from readers was based on a belief I possess. That there are thousands and thousands (millions?) of ideas that are floating out there and that many of those ideas are shared with many others. A zeitgeist, if you will, or a kind of race memory. That there’s a field of electricity—kind of an invisible “soup” if you will, that’s everywhere in the atmosphere, where ideas come from individual minds and that enter other minds that are receptive. I think that as people get older they cease being receptive to these ideas for lots of reasons—a religious body of belief for instance, that’s been indoctrinated into their minds and won’t tolerate deviances from the official canon; a physical experience that we experience in childhood that gets sublimated as we grow older and that we learn through ridicule by adults to deny in our hearts; awareness of other dimensions as a child, that awareness trampled over again by seeing those kinds of ideas routinely derided by everyone else as we grow older.
For example, I have very clear memories of being able to leave my body and hover in space when I was a child. That memory is one that got ridiculed and attacked any time I mentioned it, so little by little I forced myself to look at the experience as just something I dreamed so I could escape ridicule. And, then, in my twenties I happened on some literature about a group called “Eckanar” which was composed of people who swore they had out of body experiences just as I had and that was the beginning of my belief in a zeitgeist. I believe that, little by little, our existence becomes more and more an artificial one in which others gradually imprison each of us into a world that isn’t actual but is induced by others who are fearful of the actual world or who really don’t know what is real and what isn’t but are afraid of admitting they think differently from those around them for fear of ridicule or worse—worse being locked up in mental wards or in prison, or even killed, or simply shunned by the majority of people in their society as that is the nature of the mob—to reject anyone whose beliefs fall outside what they consider “safe” parameters.
In other words, I came to believe that we’ve all been brainwashed, not necessarily by some evil group of people whose aim is to control or enslave people, but by a mindset that to open oneself to ideas and thoughts outside the parameters of their particular society will only lead to anarchy. I don’t see this as any “plot” by a few people, but more as a natural thing for most people who sense that any thinking they don’t share is dangerous. I don’t think this is an inherited way of thinking but more of a learned behavior. That most people are fearful of anyone different and to protect themselves they either invent or adopt stances toward those they see as different. And, so, little by little we lose the insights we had as children and learn to sublimate any ideas outside the main. I think this may be what Jesus was talking about when he said that to enter Heaven, one must become as a “little child.” To go back to that age where we all had original thoughts and didn’t dismiss things out of hand that adults would consider aberrant behavior.
I know this is a longwinded reply to your question, but I think the question demands a lengthy answer to be clear. A bumper sticker reply won’t suffice for what I see is a very intelligent question about a complicated issue. I have to say that your questions are a welcome change from many interviewers who often ask idiot questions like “where do you get your ideas” or “what time of day do you write in?”
To sum up my answer, I think those readers who still challenge the status quo in their lives upon encountering issues raised in the book will feel a sense of déjà vu in that they’ve also had these same thoughts. To those who shrink from any challenge to their core beliefs, I think they’ll not feel challenged in the least and may even dislike it intensely.

AC: Just a year after this novel, 2014 saw the release of THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLATIC KIDNAPPING. This was a far different story, loosely based on your experiences in New Orleans, offering more of an entertaining than a thought-provoking read. Of all the characters in this novel, Cat is easily the most memorable for me and jumps from page. Reading her dialogue was like witnessing a character reach out of the book and slap me across the face, especially considering how she appears to me as a beacon of hope. Did you intend Cat to be a radiance that cuts through the underbelly of New Orleans in this novel, as a reminder of a way out? Does Cat know you put her in this novel?

LE: The portrait of Cat is very much like the real Cat. I just wanted to remain true to her truly unique character—in almost every sense she is a singular person. And, I doubt if she’ll ever read it—she’s not a reader. Now, if it ever gets made into a movie, I’m in trouble…
Cat was sold by her junky mother to the head of the Mafia, Carlos Marcellus, for a hundred bucks when she was nine or ten. He kicked her out when she reached the age of 12—way too old for his tastes. She went down in the Quarters and survived by prostitution and selling drugs and rolling sailors. She just isn’t afraid of anything. Here’s a typical “Cat” story. One Sunday, we were just sitting around our apartment when out of the blue, she asks me if I wanted to go down to the Quarters to roll sailors. Why not, I said, so she called up another call girl friend, Jackie, a black girl who lived in the Ninth Ward and we met her down at the Seaport Café. I was there to provide “protection.” Yeah…
Well, they hooked up with this Norwegian sailor and took him back in the little alley that goes to the Dungeon and Jackie gave him a blow job. He wanted Cat to do him next, but the girls demanded payment first. Fuck you, he said, the first thing he’d said in English as he’d been pretending not to speak the language. I was coming toward them to provide that “protection” when Cat said, Well, fuck you too, and she pulled out her switchblade (which I’d given to her for a birthday present) and stuck it in his stomach. He gave a little sigh and went down. I told Cat to check his socks as that’s where I kept my money when I was in the Navy and sure enough, he had wad of bills she grabbed and we beat feet. When we got a couple of blocks away and ducked into a bar, Cat started to divvy up the money but got really pissed off. Except for a twenty, it was all Norwegian money. Fucking funny money she said, and told Jackie to keep it all. We never found out if the guy was dead or not. Lots of things like that never make the paper. If everything like that made the paper, the tourist business would dry up.
The next Sunday Cat asked me if I wanted to go back into the Quarters with her and Jackie, and I told her she’d have to go without her “protection.” Fuck that happy shit…

AC: The setting in this novel also really stuck out to me. The descriptions Pete provides to develop the layout and scents of New Orleans stuck me right alongside him in his criminal attempts. How did living in New Orleans stick to you? Did you fall in love with the city in the same way Pete did?

LE: I’ve always loved New Orleans from the time I lived there as a child to when I returned as an adult and lived there many years. It’s a dirty, corrupt, dangerous, gorgeous, bewitching town and so unlike any other city in America. It contains all of the excesses that are interesting. I can’t imagine anyone ever being bored in The Big Sleazy.

AC: The crux of the novel examines the idea you lay out of the abstract and the real in regards to a million dollars or any large sum of money for a kidnapping. Do you find there are other things where the illusion or abstraction doesn’t pan out to what actually happens? This examination of money in such a way I found to also extend to a question of Pete’s status as a privileged ex-baseball player navigating New Orleans in an entirely different realm than those who live in dire poverty and straits. Did you anticipate an economic disparity to grow between characters? The best example of what I’m referring to would be in regards to Pete being broke, but saying he never had to do desperate measures to get food, whereas Cat has been through hell and is still trying to grow as an individual.

LE: First, Pete wasn’t any “privileged ex-ballplayer.” He was stone broke and had been for the last ten years after he’d been drummed out of baseball. But, he’d always been a hustler and if you’re a hustler you’re never going to be truly poor. There’s just too many lames out there to make a buck from. He and Cat were basically the same. She was a call girl and had been a prostitute so she was in the same financial boat as Pete. Both knew how to survive on the street.
You very accurately named the crux of the novel. In a period of my life that I’m ashamed of, I sold life insurance. (Don’t like to reveal that as that was one of the few lame periods in my life.) The “million dollars on the kitchen table” was the first thing my boss taught me. When you’re trying to sell a million-dollar policy” to someone, he sees it as an abstract thing. It just isn’t real to him. But, if you lay out an actual million dollars in cash, it immediately becomes a very real thing. And, that’s what my manager did. He’d open a suitcase and dump out a million bucks. Of course, it was just Monopoly money, but seeing that mound of hundred-dollar bills almost always led to a sale. The same thing happens in a kidnapping. Up until the money’s laid out on the kitchen table it’s largely an abstract, meaningless number. The victim is all gung-ho up to that point to get his beloved Gladys back, but once he sees that mound of bills, all of a sudden, he has a change of heart. That’s when he calls the cops, the Fibbies. He claims he loves his honey Gladys, but it’s pretty clear which he loves more…

AC: Finally, is the inclusion of the crazed inmate a sly reference to THE RAPIST? Or just a minor re-examination of a similar element?

LE: Pretty sharp, Anthony! Yep. Same character. He’s based on a guy I met in the New Orleans jail and what he did is what the real guy did. I just like the guy…

AC: Where did you take your inspiration to tell stories from? When you were a younger man, did you find yourself always being the one in a group to entertain others with amusing stories?

LE: My inspiration mostly comes from my own life. I’ve purposely put myself in situations where both good and bad things can happen. A lot of them were bad but those were the ones I gravitated toward the most. Graham Greene said writers have a piece of ice in their hearts. What Greene is referring to is the art of detachment from the emotional to be able to observe an event and describe it accurately and dispassionately. It’s what allows us to write dramatically instead of melodramatically. It is simply the ability to maintain alertness and keep your own emotions at bay when describing events, especially events that carry emotion personally. It’s not “coldness” or “calculating observation” as some would say. It’s simply maintaining the reporter’s stance when writing drama so as to maintain the drama and not tip over into melodrama. Having that piece of ice in our hearts is what allows the good writer to lower the volume instead of raising it. Thereby creating true and deep emotion and not surface emotion, cheaply and easily wrought. That melodramatic writer is who Oscar Wilde was referring to in his famous criticism of that most melodramatic writer of all time, Charles Dickens, when he said, “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.” Indeed.
And, yes, I was that guy who took over the conversation. I had (have) a desperate need to hold the floor. Mostly to “play the dozens” which is a disappearing art because of that political correctness bullshit. It’s probably lack of a healthy ego—I find I need constant confirmation that I have value—laughter and grins being the coin of that realm.

AC: Do you believe there is a power books and written word is able to hold other mediums of expression lack?

LE: Certainly! I subscribe to Marshall McLuhan’s theory of hot and cold media. The media is judged by the extent of the audience’s participation. In hot media, the audience is passively consuming what is presented. In cool media, the audience has to actively analyze and interpret what is presented to make sense of what they see and hear.
Hot media are those that affect one sense and the participant is required to bring their imaginations and stored knowledge to bear to have a good experience. Examples of hot media are books and radio. Cool media is media that affects two or more senses, leaving less for the participant to bring to the experience. An example of cold media is television. By utilizing more than one sense, much of the work is done for the participant; therefore, one’s participation is minimal. You sit back and let the media do all the heavy lifting.
Experiencing a television show requires little from the participant who remains passive. Reading a book is a participatory exercise in which one has to do some of the work. Therefore, reading a book is a more intense experience as the reader has to bring to bear the whole of his imagination, memory and intellect. And, when the participant is required to do some work in order to make full use of the experience, it becomes his or hers and he or she “owns” the interpretation of it. This is precisely what philosophers and educators are referring to when they decry “the dumbing down of America.” That’s because watching television does very little to affect the mind. And that’s the power of books over other mediums.

AC: How do you describe your role as a writer?

LE: I have several duties as a writer. One is to write entertaining stories to the best of my ability. Another is to always write as honestly as I am able to—my mantra is, “If it’s fiction, it has to be true.” That doesn’t mean being detail-true but it means my personal mandate is that fiction be written honestly and not shirking anything in that fiction that intentionally misleads or lies to the reader. My main duty over everything is to write the best fiction I am capable of and to never take short cuts or offer up anything that is in any way less than I am capable of. That is my stock in trade and I hope never to write anything that doesn’t reflect an honest and true heart.

AC: What lessons would you have to impart on younger authors?

LE: I’ll steal this from Jim Harrison, if you want to become a writer read the whole of western literature for the past 400 years. If you live long enough, read the whole of eastern literature for the same period. For, if you don’t know what passed for good in the past, how can you know what’s considered good in the present.

AC: What projects are you currently working on? Which book are you most proud of?

LE: I’m working on about ten projects currently. Working on three short stories for various anthologies I’ve been invited to submit to. Have four novels I’m working on. I’m writing a new craft book. Am preparing notes for appearances at several writing events I’ve been invited to present at. For instance, I’m appearing at Lee Lofland’s Writer’s Police Academy where he’s scheduled me to give at least two talks. I’m preparing notes for those so it will appear that I’m talking extemporaneously. And, the other day he asked me if I’d serve as the auctioneer for an auction they hold, so of course I have to do research so I won’t look too much as a doofus. That means I have to watch episodes of Storage Wars so I can learn how to be an auctioneer. Us writer types have to have many skills…
I’m working on two main projects—a new novel titled HARD TIMES based on a short story of that same title. And, my memoir, titled Adrenaline Junkie, which has been a true labor of love and one in which I don’t dodge anything, but include both the best and the worst of my life. It’s the book I’m most excited about and hope when it comes out it’ll be viewed as the best work of my life. I’ve had several publishers want it, but I’m waiting for a Legacy 5 publisher so that it might end up on bookshelves and be available for reviewers reviews by the best reviewers.
There are two books I’m the proudest of: THE RAPIST and THE BITCH.

Fans who would like to reach out to Edgerton can email him at butchedgerton@comcast.net. His newest short story collection, LAGNIAPPE, is available through Down & Out Books at https://downandoutbooks.com/bookstore/edgerton-lagniappe/.



Friday, November 17, 2017

ME AND CHARLIE MANSON...

Hi folks,

I just learned that Charlie Manson has just achieved room temperature. In honor of the occasion, I'm repeating a blogpost I wrote a few years ago about Charlie and me. Hope you get a kick out of it.

Hi folks,

I thought you might be interested in a recent exchange I had with author Richard Godwin. Richard is interviewing me for his blog feature “Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse.” It’s a fantastic feature, where he interviews authors and asks the most fascinating and “deepest” questions I’ve ever been asked by any interviewer. Richard is interviewing me at the suggestion of noir master, Paul D. Brazill, a mutual friend.

Richard conducts his interviews by posing one question at a time. Once you respond to that question, he sends you another. It’s an exhausting process but when we’re done, it’ll be the most comprehensive interview I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. I’ll be sure to let you know when it appears.

I had just sent him my replay to his second question and he sent me the third. When he emailed me, he asked me the question below and I thought you might be interested in the answer, since it’s about an old acquaintance, Charlie Manson, and I know there are people out there who are interested in Manson. (This isn’t the interview question—it’s just a personal question he asked in response to Paul Brazill’s suggestion that he do so.)

Be advised there are a few instances of strong language.

Here’s Richard Godwin’s question and my reply:

Paul (D. Brazill) suggested I ask you about Manson. I do not mean to put you on the spot, this is not part of the interview. My first novel Apostle Rising was mentioned by a few reviewers in the context of the Manson killings, as this review shows
All the best
Richard (Godwin).

Hi Richard,

Well, Charlie and I have a bit of a history.

About ten years ago or so, a professor at the University of Toledo—Dr. Russell Riesling--was writing a book about the drug experiences of famous people during their youth. He had folks like Big Brother of Big Brother and the Holding Company and some other folks. For some weird reason, he had a chapter on me. I’d done drugs but definitely wasn’t famous!

Anyway, Russ interviewed me for his book (which hasn’t been published yet, alas), and we became friends. I sent him a copy of my story collection, Monday’s Meal. About two weeks after I sent it, I got a phone call from him. Seems he’d been out to Corcoran Prison to visit with and interview Charles Manson (who also had a chapter), and during the visit, Charlie spotted the copy of Monday’s Meal that Russ had with him. He asked if he could “borrow it” and Russ loaned it to him. A few days later, he called Russ and was really excited (according to Russ). He said he’d read the book and loved it and that I was “the real deal” meaning a real-life outlaw, ex-con. He asked Russ if he’d ask me if I’d mind if he (Charlie) called me. I told Russ, sure, and thus began a series of phone calls from him to me.

Now, when I was in prison, we weren’t allowed to call folks. At all. One of the many things that have changed. Because of that, I wasn’t aware that all such phone calls are made collect. At the end of the month, after which he called 3-4 times a week, I got the bill and it was astronomical! My wife had a cow and I told Charlie we needed to dial it back a bit. (Pun intended…)

Mostly, Charlie talked and I listened. He’s not hard to figure out. He’s a nutcase, pure and simple. Knew lots of guys like him in the joint who just weren’t as famous. We swapped stories and he may have told me a few things he’d done that he hadn’t been nailed on and I may have returned in kind, but I won’t talk about that. Anyway, I kind of got tired of talking to him—it was same-o, same-o all the time—and was about to disassociate myself, when he told me his cellmate, Roger Smith, really wanted to talk to me. I said okay and thus began a series of phone calls with Roger.

Roger bills himself as the “most-stabbed inmate in U.S. history—and he is. As of that time, he’d been shanked over 300 separate times. The reason he was Charlie’s cellmate was that both were in protective custody as there were hits out on both of them from just about everybody in Corcoran. Over the years, Roger had hired himself out as a hit man for every single gang in the joint and now all of them had a hit out on him. The reason he wanted to connect with me was that he thought I was a “great writer” (his words and they had little effect on me—I’ve been on the receiving end of a shuck job attempt more than once…), and he wanted me to write his life story. According to Roger, he’d had his “come to Jesus” moment and wanted to right all the wrongs in his life. He said he wanted his life story out there to help keep young kids from following in his footsteps. He’d been locked up ever since he was a juvie and all that. Grew up in one joint or another.

I had to laugh when he told me he was “saved.” He sounded contrite… but every other word out of his mouth with “fuck this” or “motherfucker this” and he didn’t sound much like the converts I’d met down at the First Baptist… But, I’ve been inside with a lot of guys who had these jailhouse conversions and he wasn’t unusual.

He told me Charlie was letting him use his personal secretary—some gal who lives in North or South Carolina (forget which) who has all of Charlie’s journals and communications and writings and such and who handles all his commercial business. He can’t profit by books and interviews but he does take checks from the networks and publishers and the proceeds all go to charity. Roger told me he’d kept journals from when he was a little tad tyro outlaw and they were with Charlie’s secretary and he said he’d have her send them to me—from what he said, a LOT of journals(!)--and that he’d answer any questions I asked.

I told him I was just too busy with my own work and really couldn’t do this project, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Called me incessantly, trying to persuade me to write his life history. Finally, one time, he said, “What’s the real reason you don’t want to write it, Les?” I asked him if he wanted the real reason and he said yeah, so I told him. “Roger,” I said, “you’re like a serial killer. In fact, you are a serial killer. Three hundred hits, dude.” “Yeah,” he said. “and why would that prevent you from writing my story?” To which I answered that serial killers just flat-out bored me (and they do). I told him serial killers just keep doing the same exact thing, over and over and over, ad nauseum. After about the third one, they’re just boring. And, I didn’t want to tie up a year of my life on writing about some boring-ass serial killer.

There was a silence and then he exploded. Called me everything but a white man. Sounded kind of like he’d kind of backslid on the “saved” deal. Screamed that if he ever got out of Corcoran my house was the first place he was heading. I listened to him ranting and screaming at me and then said, “Roger?” He got quiet and then said, “Yeah?” I said, “Roger, you’re not ever getting out of there unless there’s a major earthquake and that isn’t likely. But, if somehow you do get out, I’m aware that you prefer using a shank on your hits and if you come to my house to nail me, I won’t have a shank. It’ll be something that makes a louder noise. So, it’s been nice talking to you and have a nice life, loser.”

And that’s the last I’ve talked to either Roger or Charlie. But, for awhile we were all jam.

So that’s the story of me and Charlie Manson, Richard.

Hope you enjoyed this little anecdote, folks. And, if you haven’t read Richard Godwin’s books you really should. They’re fantastic.

Here’s a link to his latest, Mr. Glamour. I highly recommend it.



Blue skies,

Les

P.S. If anyone's interested in the interview Richard Godwin and I had (and it did turn out to be the best I've ever taken part in, here's the link: http://www.richardgodwin.net/author-interviews-extensive/chin-wag-at-the-slaughterhouse-interview-with-les-edgerton



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

COUPLE OF BLURBS...

Hi folks,

I'm pleased to present a couple of blurbs today--one for a writer I admire very much and another which was given to one of my books.

The first is what I wrote about Earl Javorsky's newest novel, DOWN TO NO GOOD. Here's what I have to say about this terrific book:

ORDER HERE


Blurb for Earl Javorsky’s DOWN TO NO GOOD

Hand me a book with a P.I. who’s been shot in the head and come back from the dead, along with a psychic who solves crimes right and left, along with some other folks who are more than a bit irregular and I’m unplugging the TV, turning off the alarm clock, and hiding my phone under a pillow where I can’t hear it. I just emerged from an all-night sesh with DOWN TO NO GOOD, a volatile mess of pages littered with the madness that Earl Javorsky’s fevered brain manufacturers. I’m going to the nearest mental hospital and turn myself in and hope for some good drugs. It was worth it, though.

Les Edgerton, author of THE RAPIST, THE BITCH, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, JUST LIKE THAT and others.

And, then I received the following blurb from mega bestselling author Jerry Jenkins. Jerry had asked me to record a video for his writing classes on Hooked and I agreed immediately. We plan to record at least a couple more next year. He sent me the following blurb to be used for HOOKED:



Jerry Jenkins blurb for HOOKED

I read every writing book that comes down the pike, and I like a lot of them. But I LOVE Hooked / write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go! As punchy as Les Edgerton’s hard-hitting fiction, Hooked takes no prisoners. Clear, simple, direct, it offers something fresh in every chapter. I recommend it to all my students and even my colleagues. Your writing library won’t be complete without it.

Jerry Jenkins
Novelist & Biographer
The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild
Best-selling author of the Left Behind series and many others 

That's all, folks!

Blue skies,
Les


Monday, October 30, 2017

JUST LIKE THAT REISSUED!

Hi folks,

Got some news--Down and Out Books has just reissued my novel, JUST LIKE THAT! It has a new cover which I really like. If you haven't read it before you might want to glom onto a copy now. It's about 85% autobiographical and is centered on a road trip I made with a rappie from Pendleton and on my time in the joint.



Assistant Warden Cathy Johns of The Farm (Louisiana state joint at Angola) read it and told me it was "the truest account of the criminal mind" she'd ever read. One thing I promise--you won't see any bullshit about "shivs" or any crap like the myth MSNBC puts out about prisons in it...

Hope you get a copy and hope you enjoy the read. If you like it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon and Goodreads. It's the single best thing you can do for a writer and we appreciate it when you do.

Blue skies,
Les

Friday, October 13, 2017

A COUPLE OF OPENINGS IN OUR ONLINE NOVEL-WRITING CLASS

Hi folks,

As most of you know, I run an online novel writing class that runs for ten weeks at a time and is in operation year-round. We’re coming up to the end of the current session this week, and then will take a couple of weeks off and then begin the next session on October 29. Most times, we don’t have openings for new class members, but it looks as if we’re going to have a couple of openings this time, so I just want to let folks know in case anyone’s interested. If you are, please send me an email at butchedgerton@comcast.net and let me know. Below, I’ll give an outline of how it works. When new openings occur, first chance to join is given to the adjuncts and after that it’s a first-come, first-served basis. To be able to devote the proper time to each student, the class will be limited to twelve people. An unlimited number of adjuncts are taken.

Me and Joe Lansdale in Indy after a meal...


Auditors
Those interested in auditing the class—which would allow the auditing person to receive and view everything the rest of the class does, but not be able to participate actively, solely as an observer. The fee is substantially less for auditors than participating students at $50. Basically, auditors will sit in on the class as an observer. There can be an unlimited number of auditors. Some in class are uncomfortable with very many observing their work and our exchanges as, to be honest, many of our comments are brutally frank. Students know and welcome this, but to someone not directly participating can see it another way. There won’t be any interaction at all with auditors—they’ll be there simply to use the knowledge they might pick up for their own writing or even their own teaching.

Pertinent info for active class members:
This class will be conducted in a workshop format. What that means is each week participants will send a designated number of pages to both me and the other members of the class. When I receive each person’s work, I’ll provide comments/criticism/suggestions to improve for each student on their work and then send it back to them and the others in class. Each person in class does the same for each other—reading and providing comments on each other’s work and sending that back to the class and me. The class is divided into two groups so each person will need to read and comment on 5-6 people’s work. That doesn’t mean they can’t read work from those in the other group—anyone can read anyone else’s work. This is just to keep each member’s work down to a reasonable level. It’s exactly like being in an “on-ground” workshop. I’ve found over a lifetime of teaching classes—beginning with the UCLA Writer’s Program—that this is the single best method of learning. There is a synergy at work with this model. Many writing classes consist of the student sending work in and the instructor commenting. That’s okay, in a limited way, but when you have ten others plus the instructor or workshop leader commenting, the value of the class increases almost exponentially.

I believe in road maps when embarking on the lengthy journey a novel entails; therefore, I ask each student to submit a 15-20 word outline of their proposed novel. I don’t have the space here to explain how that works, but I send a handout on how to create such an outline before the class begins, and it serves to keep the writer focused on their novel throughout its creation and also helps the workshop leader and his/her classmates see instantly if the writer is focused or meandering. I’m a firm believer in beginning a novel in the proper place and once that is achieved, the remainder of the novel becomes infinitely easier to create. We’ll spend the most time on a writer’s novel beginning than any other part of their novel.

This class will be composed of students who’ve previously taken classes with me along with newcomers. To be able to serve each level of student fairly, students who are well along into their novel and have taken previous classes, will be able to submit up to eight pages per week. New students who haven’t taken my class, will be allowed to submit up to four pages per week until they’ve achieved a publishable opening, and, once they’ve achieved a proper beginning, will then be able to send eight pages each week thereafter. Please know that this may sound like favoritism, but it’s not at all. The beginning of a novel is the single most crucial part of writing a novel, imo, and I spend more time on that than anything else. I’ve learned over many years, that a great many writers have a poor understanding of a novel’s structure and it’s crucial that a sound knowledge of novel structure (particularly beginnings) be achieved before devoting much time to the rest of the novel. I’ll spend as much time on the newer student’s four pages than I will on the more experienced writer’s. Please feel free to query those in class who’ve been with me before as to their opinion and I feel certain they’ll agree with me. I’ll be happy to furnish names and email addresses for those writers should you wish to ask their opinion.

Periodically, I also send handouts to the class on some element of writing, as well as other pertinent info that’s useful.

Be forewarned that this workshop isn’t for the faint of heart! Some have termed it “Les Edgerton’s Bootcamp for Writers.” In “real life” I’m not a mean person, but with writing I’m not going to hold hands nor hand out false praise. That’s what writing groups are for and they do it well. I expect each person to participate fully and comment on each other’s work just as they would want others to do the same for theirs. I don’t tolerate very well, those who keep making the same mistakes week after week. For example, the proper and professional format is explained at the beginning and each class there are always one or two newcomers who keep making the same, easily-fixed mistake. Here’s a common example: One of the format rules is that there is only one space between sentences in computer-generated material. Many older writers, in the typewriter days of yore, were taught to use two spaces. The kernaling in computers is different than typewriters and using two spaces is a sure sign of an amateur who hasn’t kept up with current usages and just another red flag a writer ought to avoid. I understand it’s a hard habit to overcome—I had to do the same myself—but there is an easy way to relearn this which we give, and even if it takes awhile to relearn this, a writer can at least do a final edit before sending work in and correct this. To not do so, indicates to me a writer who doesn’t respect either themselves or their fellow writers or the teacher. Frankly, I don’t want to waste time with this type of writer. I’m not speaking of the writer who makes occasional mistakes, but of the one who continually keeps making the same mistake after it’s been pointed out.

Writing well isn’t easy. It’s hard. If someone has told you that writing is easy, they’ve lied to you. Typing is easy; writing is hard. Our aim in our class is to help writers create publishable work. By reputable publishers, not vanity presses.

If I haven’t scared you off, here are the particulars:

1. Fee is $400, payable in advance and nonrefundable. Auditor’s fee is $50 and is also nonrefundable.

2. Each week, you’ll send to the entire group and me, your pages. You’ll also receive work from your classmates to read and provide comments on. The comments aren’t intended to be scholarly or exhibit some high degree of technical knowledge. We just want to know what worked for you in the writing and what didn’t and why you think it did or didn’t.

3. To help make the class run smoothly, there will be deadlines each week. For instance, if the class begins on a Sunday each week, you’ll send in your work by the following Wednesday. Then, starting on Thursday, you’ll send in your comments on each other’s work. I’ll send my comments to each of you by Saturday night. Then, the next week begins on the following Sunday.

4. Often, the class and I kind of hit a wall. It’s pretty intense. To account for that event, we may take a week hiatus and return the following week. In fact, you can pretty well count on that.

5. We don’t expect a student to be a professional writer at all. It’s a class, not an advanced degree program. Our aim is to help each writer become better at their craft as a result of the class, and to learn how to professionally submit material, and to hopefully end up creating work that is publishable legitimately.

6. While I would never say I would recommend students to agents or publishers, very often I do. The people who finish the class almost always have progressed to the point where their work is, indeed, publishable, and when that happens I’m eager to introduce them and their work to gatekeepers.

7. Required reading will be my book, HOOKED, and Jack Bickham’s book, SCENES & STRUCTURE. Recommended reading will be Janet Burroway’s WRITING FICTION.

If anyone is interested and has more questions, please feel free to email me at butchedgerton@comcast.net.

Thank you,

Les




P.S. Some additional info…

We’ll have a couple of new students this time—most writers keep re-upping each time but occasionally one or two will drop out for various reasons: demands of a new job not allowing them to commit the considerable time that is required to participate, needing time off to address the notes their new agent just gave them for the novel he signed, and so on. Most just keep on, even after they’ve gotten an agent and/or sold their novel, and begin writing a new one. Almost all who stick out the entire session come back. The ones who quit usually quit fairly soon into the class. It’s not for everyone. Nobody holds anybody’s hand and every single one of us is focused on but one thing—helping each other write a novel that’s publishable. It’s a tough game and not for everyone.

I try to warn people who are thinking of joining us, how tough the class is, but I know from past experience that even so forewarned, at least some are going to be in for a shock when they see that we really don’t hold hands, pat people on the back for minimum efforts, or overlook writing that doesn’t work. I’m not cruel (at least I don’t think so) nor are any of the oldtimers in class, but most new folks haven’t been exposed to a class like ours. The truth is, most writers who haven’t had a class like ours has been praised in other classes or most likely, has been in classes that use the “sandwich” method of teaching. You know—that deal where the teach applies a bit of praise, then a bit of criticism, and then a bit of praise. Well, that ain’t our shtick. Not even close. The comments we all provide on everyone’s work fit one definition only. They’re honest.

This isn’t to be mean or to act like we’re the only folks around who know what good writing is. Except… we do. I’m not aware of any other class out there with the kind of track record ours enjoys. Virtually every writer who stays the course with us ends up with a top agent and/or a book deal. That doesn’t happen in a single ten-week session. About the earliest anyone has earned an agent or book deal in our class has been about a year. And, that’s reasonable.

The thing is, our writers don’t expect things to be easy.

Here are a few comments by students:

Hi ________. Since Les opened the floor for comments from the "class veterans" I'm chipping in with my two cents. I have a file cabinet filled with stuff I sent Les and then needed asbestos gloves to take the paper off the printer. When I started this journey, I'd never taken an English class past high school. (I was pre-med in college) I figured I love to read, so how hard can it be? Okay, quit laughing at me. Clearly, when I wrote my first version of my first novel, I had no idea about story structure, POV, any of that. I figured I'm pretty articulate and therefore I can write?

Les quickly set me straight. All of this is to point out that we've all been on the receiving end of Les' brutal honesty. I will find some of the comments he made on my work and post them but phrases like "throwing up in my mouth now" and "bury this so deep in the yard no one ever finds it" are seared into my brain and I don't have to look to find those!!! The point is, I took other classes before I met Les and the teachers were kind and gentle and never told me I sucked. If it weren't for Les, I'd still be churning out awful drivel that makes people want to throw up instead of trying not to throw up while I wait to see if my agent is able to sell my book. I would never have gotten an agent without Les. So hang in there. Listen to everything he says and if it doesn't make sense, ask away.

The novel that I am currently trying to sell has been a work in progress since 2009. The first time Les saw it he sent it back and told me to re-write the WHOLE thing!!! My character was a wimp. She sat back and let things happen to her. I argued a little, rewrote a little and then moved on to another book. After a year, I went back and reread it and saw the truth. It was awful. So I took a deep breath and started over. Page one. First sentence. Re-wrote the entire thing. It took a full year and then I revised it again. It's definitely a process. But once you get the Inciting incident and the outline steps down pat, it's a whole lot easier. Trust me!!! And you'll never graduate completely. A few months ago, Les and I went head-to-head on one single passage. I was trying to be lazy and take the easy way out. He called me on it and I resubmitted three or four weeks in a row, revisions on the same passage. I was sure my classmates were so sick of it they were going to stick needles in their eyes rather than read it again! But in the end, the passage rocked!! So hang in there!!!! It'll get better.

That’s all, folks…


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

HOOKED... WITH JERRY JENKINS...

Hi folks,

Got an unusual post today. Recently, I was invited by mega bestselling author Jerry Jenkins  (Left Behind series and many other bestsellers) to take part in an interview with him for his Master Class series of classes for writers on my book Hooked. We had a blast and here's the video his crew headed by Matt Lempert produced. Jerry has generously allowed me to post it on my blog and other sites.

To watch it in its entirety, click here. I see it's possible to click on the picture below, but if you do, you only see half of the picture and none of my lovely kisser, so to see the whole enchilada, just click on the link. Thanks!

Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page 1 with Les Edgerton


Any and all comments are appreciated!

Blue skies,
Les