Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Jeffrey Kuczmarski

"The sun was bright and terrible on my face so I took a healthy swig of whisky before I fully opened my eyes." from Max Find (found in Danger City)

From the first line of Jeffrey's hard-boiled short story about a drunken and dangerous detective I was hooked. It has that Maltese Falcon, old fashion sense of romance. No not the man and woman type of romance, the style and era and genre that Jeffrey revels in has this nostalgic charm, but still pushes and explores towards something fresh and exciting. There is danger and drinking and action, that is what draws people to pulp or hard-boiled fiction, but it is the quality of the writing that will keep you reading Jeffrey's work. Jeffrey is not only a writer, he actually attended the Art Institute of Chicago and makes relief prints. In a way they are just as shadowy and intriguing as his writing.

Recently, Jeffrey was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Is there a certain formula for writing pulp fiction?
Jeffrey Kuczmarski (JK): The hardboiled variety of pulp fiction is an attitude, a lens, through which characters view the world. Crime is the one certainty and acts as the fulcrum which sets the characters in motion. Location is essentially irrelevant. Unless it's a locked room farce, it doesn't matter if Boris was stabbed to death in the throat on the crapper or at the theater. Boris was murdered and that's a catalyst for character interaction and it's that spark between characters that's the sweet spot for me. The characters need to make decisions and what they do or don't do, determines outcome. If the interaction is good enough it won't matter whether Boris was a Russian godfather's nephew or the trash collector as long as the story which unfolds is compelling and has the momentum to rocket the reader down the investigation freeway. Whiskey, goons with shoulder hair to spare, scantily clad dames in distress and a stiletto in the eye are a distinct possibility. Donkeys are optional.

OA: I really enjoyed "Max Find", and as I read I couldn't help but hear the voice of Sam Spade. It feels like it is written in a classic style. How long have you been fascinated by detective stories?
JK: Thank you. Although it's an honor to be thought of in the same room or even down the hall, there was no intention to evoke Sam Spade specifically

I did, however, intend to tip my hat to the hardboiled style, tone and rhythm of speech of the general era and ratchet that up a notch and create an exaggerated reality.

Here's a formula for you: Art = obsession. I was an odd kid. Instead of money, I'd ask for Mickey Spillane paperbacks. And now I read everything I can get my hands on, but I have a weakness for crime fiction. I like girls with guns, especially when they're naughty.

OA: What is the market like for Pulp right now, and do you plan to write a full-length novel?
JK: It's an exciting time. There's been a resurgence and a renewed interest in the craft. The best spot online to get your fix for excellent hardboiled is Todd Robinson's Thuglit. Todd's really busted his butt to make this a top-notch site and he's also a damn fine writer himself. His own work and those of other authors on the site have been nominated for some prestigious awards. And I am both fortunate and proud to have a story featured under my pen name, Jeffrey Bangkok, in the first Best of Thuglit anthology which includes one of the modern masters, Ken Bruen.

Another more traditional venue is Hard Case Crime which runs a monthly book club, reissuing long out of print books from past heavy hitters and publishing new greats.

Yes, I wrote a Max Find novel, twice as twisted as the original story and three times the fun, and it keeps me awake at night moaning for a publisher.

OA: You have created a series of black and white prints featuring a variety of figures. What is the process for these prints?
JK: I started making relief prints when I was in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago. It's a labor intensive process of drawing a backward image onto wood or linoleum, carving out the image, inking the block and pressing the image onto paper. When I tire of leering at models in lingerie catalogs I make prints at my kitchen table. I love how visceral the process is and that in the end I've created a physical object. And in our increasingly virtual world there's nothing more gratifying than when your hands ache from working with wood and steel.

OA: Can your prints be purchased on-line?
JK: I'll be placing them on Etsy in the near future.

OA: What's next for Jeff Kuczmarski?
JK: Miniskirts and world domination.

Bonus questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes where can you find the best cup in your area?
JK: Yes, Metropolis on 1039 West Granville is the best in Edgewater and the one of the finest in the city; the staff is great and they roast their own beans onsite.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy and who are a few of your favorites?
JK: I'm eclectic. I listen to Beethoven, The Beastie Boys, Pink Floyd, Pasty Cline, the White Stripes and Lavay Smith.

For more information on Jeffrey Kuczmarski please visit his website.


oaktree said...

Jeff seems like he's a bad ass. Do odd kids grow up to be bad asses?

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