He says he knows his characters so well – he's been writing about them since 1990 – and they're always doing a ride-along in Lansdale's brain. “I don't plot my stories; I let them happen. That's why my wife drives,” says Lansdale. “I just have an idea. I'll see something, I'll read something, and I'll ask, 'How will my guys react?' and 'How will this affect me?' It happens all the time.”
The author also has seen success in the crime thriller television show, Hap and Leonard, starring James Purefoy as the white-trash rebel and Michael Kenneth Williams as the gay black Republican Vietnam vet. “The TV show has been nominated for a GLAAD award,” says Lansdale, noting that it's his portrayal of the characters as being human rather than deviant that resonates with viewers. “That's about social justice. That's about humanity. Two guys just as different as they can be.” He says he has friends who don't share his viewpoints, but that shouldn't deter friendship or tolerance.
We wanted to know if people he meets in his day-to-day life ever end up on the pages of his books. “Very rarely does anybody show up as who they are, or full blown. It will be a mixture. Hap is very close to me, and actually I share a lot of attributes of Leonard; he's a mixture,” says Lansdale. “Most of the time I get some aspect of a character, or some element of somebody I've met.”
Lansdale is coming to Houston to discuss and sign copies of his book. “I've signed at Murder By The Book for years, and I've always appreciated how much they support authors, and they're one of my favorite places to sign,” says Lansdale. “They really know something about your career, your approach to your work. It's a wonderful place to be.”
Kathleen Kent (The Heretic's Daughter, The Traitor's Wife, The Outcasts) also is scheduled to appear at this book-signing event. She'll be signing and discussing The Dime, in which her Big Apple detective, Betty Rhyzyk, takes on Mexican drug cartels and cult leaders in Dallas.
The book signing for Joe Lansdale and Kathleen Kent is February 22 at 6:30 p.m., 2342 Bissonnet, 713-524-8597, murderbooks.com. Free.