What people don’t understand, particularly younger people with the rock ‘n’ roll sensibility–wearers of black, grad students, counterculturites, all that–they like to think I’m a certain way. Look at the books. Look at how fuckin’ meticulously they’re constructed. You would have to be an absolutely disciplined, mentally controlled, systematic, meticulous worker capable of sustaining great concentration to write the kind of books that I write.
The 250-page outline for American Tabloid. The books are so dense. They’re so complex, you cannot write like I write off the top of your head. It’s the combination of that meticulousness and the power of the prose and, I think, the depth of the characterizations and the risks that I’ve taken with language that give the books their clout. And that’s where I get pissed off at a lot of my younger readers.
I come on avuncular sometimes: I say to a young guy, “Son, what are you doing? I’m your dad. I drank, I used drugs, I hate William Burroughs, I hate Hunter Thompson, I hate Charles Bukowski, I don’t think any of ’em were worth a shit, and none of ’em can write, and William Burroughs is a misogynist cocksucker who murdered his mother.” [Long pause.]
His, ah, mother? Oops, Freudian slip. Murdered his wife. People can’t take that. I get confronted with that all the time. I’m quiet. I’m peaceful. I’m 48 fuckin’ years old. I got a great marriage. My wife is profound. I’ve had more poontang than fuckin’ Frank Sinatra. I don’t need to prove myself that way anymore. I got a woman I’m loyal to above all things, above my career. She’s profound to me. I’m quiet. I live in Kansas City. I work. I’m not interested in popular culture. I hate Quentin Tarantino. I rarely go to movies. I hate rock ‘n’ roll. I work. I think. I listen to classical music. I brood.
(c) James Ellroy, the onion, april 00