Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
RUSH LEAMING has done many things and lived in many places.
At various times in his life he has been a/an: car wash attendant, bartender, dishwasher, Adjunct Professor, lab rat decapitator, shoe salesman, fish pond builder, a monster in a low-budget horror movie, music video director, refugee camp volunteer, film production manager, ESL teacher, star of a country music video, newspaper delivery person, Chinese wok assembler, night time hotel desk clerk, cement mixer, ballet manager, waiter, internet teacher, screenwriter, short film director, Cuban cigar mule, auctioneer, pre-med student, traffic pattern analyzer, photographer, landscaper, homeless, Academic Director, shepherd, lifeguard, audio-visual coordinator, recruiter for a prestigious government agency, and single dad.
Just to name a few…
How many hours a day do you write?
I’m a binge writer, not an everyday writer. I sometimes go years or more in between projects. But as on this book, when I’m in the throes of it, I write my first drafts very fast, using my iPhone! I’ll write everyday about 3-4 hours in the morning, then in the evening spend a couple of hours reviewing, revising and often expanding on what I wrote in the morning.
What are your favorite books?
Here’s my top five:
The Quiet American – Graham Greene
A Feast of Snakes -Harry Crews
The Bluest Eye -Toni Morrison
1984 – George Orwell
Different Seasons – Stephen King
Who and what ultimately inspired you to become a writer?
I wrote my first two short stories at age 5, as soon as I could put sentences together. So it was always there from the very beginning!
What in particular attracted you to this genre?
Crime stories have tension built in to them. What I tried to do with this book as well as my first novel, Don’t Go, Ramanya, was to use the structure of a thriller and page-turner as the framework of the story, it then see how far I could push it and how deep I could dive beneath the surface—how many layers could I add?
Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
The idea first came to me in the mid 90’s, the idea that the impending destruction of a famous tree would stir up a whirlwind of trouble in a community. I envisioned it as a multi–character, complicated interlocking of storylines. The crime element came later, and actually Part-Two:One-Hit Wonder, the sniper targeted right wing targets came from a screenplay idea I had but never wrote.
Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
In this book, definitely Len Rawlings. I had to get in his head to find the logic in his views, but also wanted to show the humanity within, that he, like so many people who become radicalized, are really lost souls.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope they enjoy it on different levels. I hope they read a good crime story, an exciting, fast-paced story that also makes them stop to think and also keeps lingering with them long after the last page!
What life experiences have shaped your writing most?
I’m the King of Odd/Weird jobs. See my bio. And it was all research! Everything, everyday is research. And you can deduct some of it from your taxes!
What makes this book important right now?
Um, the news for the past six years. But no matter how hard we may try, no one writer can truly capture the dangerous absurdity of what we have been living through. So hopefully I’ve been able to add my little contribution to the mosaic.