Published on November 15th, 2011 | by Jenah0
Welcome Cary Pepper
C.P. – I’m originally from New York City. I now live in San Francisco.
What I love most about it is… It’s San Francisco!
Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Welcome Cary PepperC.P. – Reel Life Crime is a tongue-in-cheek hard-boiled detective story that’s a tribute to The Maltese Falcon (Chandler’s book and Houston’s film), the noir genre, and movies in general. It’s also a mystery that can stand on its own. (But the better you know The Maltese Falcon, the more you’ll appreciate this.)
As for what’s in the works… I generally pretty much always have something new I’m working on, whether it’s on paper or in my head. At the moment, I’m finishing a new play and mapping out a sequel to Reel Life Crime.
Why did you write this book?
C.P. – I’ve always been fascinated by The Maltese Falcon. In addition to Reel Life Crime, I’ve written a full-length play (The Maltese Frenchman) about it. I’m drawn to the general concept of The Quest, and to this quest in particular. Years ago, the Maltese falcon (the prop from Houston’s film) came to San Francisco and I began to think, “What if…?” From that moment on, the idea never left my head. Some eight years later, I finally wrote the book.
How did you come up with the title?
C.P. – Movies (and their impact on our everyday lives) are at the heart of the story. I took the concept of “real life crime” and spun it.
How did you choose your genre?
C.P. – If you’re gonna write a mystery based on The Maltese Falcon, it’s gotta be a hard-boiled detective story of some sort. The play I wrote started from a (creatively) silly, very playful idea. That play is an out-and-out comedy.
So I guess, in general, the core idea — and how you want to handle the material — dictates the genre. And of course, your style and predilections as a writer.
What inspired you to be a writer?
C.P. – Took a Playwriting class in college. Came away from the first assignment on a natural high. From the point on, I was hooked. There was never any real question of being anything else.
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
C.P. – All the time. I’ve written plays based on things I’ve read in the newspaper or seen on TV, and I’ve incorporated incidents I read/saw as smaller parts of larger work.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
C.P. – Not writing itself, fortunately. But for me, the process can be challenging. I’ve had to learn to allow myself to be stuck along the way, whether for an idea, a plot point, or less than free-flowing creativity. I now know that if I leave it alone, give it free rein, and not stress out about the fact that’s it taking longer than I’d like it to, it’ll all come on its own. In its time, when it’s ready.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
C.P. – Learn — and develop — your craft…. Have (or develop) discipline — writing is work… Know your character(s) before you start writing. It all comes from character… Don’t be lazy. Develop each part of whatever you’re writing as much as it needs to be developed to work… And don’t stop writing.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
C.P. – I have slow periods where either no ideas are coming or the ideas that are coming don’t excite me enough to want to pursue them. But once I have an idea, and I’m ready to work on it, I just start writing. In that way, I’m lucky.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
C.P. – My favorite authors are William Faulkner and Tom Robbins.
A lot of books have influenced me. Too many to mention.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
C.P. – How do I deal with rejection letters? I save them. I have every one I’ve ever received. They fill a warehouse around the corner from my house. And I just keep writing.
Acceptance/rejection is completely subjective. My basic response to a rejection letter is “What do they know?” And then I send the work out again. (A caveat: This is only after I’ve put the work through my own rigorous edit/rewrite/show-the work-to-people-I-trust process. I always think about the reason(s) why something’s been rejected. I just don’t let myself be stopped by rejection if I know this is what I intended to write and it’s as good as it can/should be. So I’m not talking ego here; I’m talking about having the confidence in my work to not let “them” discourage me.)
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
C.P. – Craft. Discipline. Talent.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
C.P. – I’m not sure anything within the law and that doesn’t hurt other people is weird in terms of research, because you have to know the world you’re writing about. So you do pretty much anything you have to do (within the above parameters) to know that world. Although there was that incident in Hoboken…
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