Champion Joe - King of Mojo
Around three years ago, I was fortunate enough to stumble across a copy of Joe R. Lansdale’s Captain’s Outrageous in a Lancaster book shop. To those legions of readers that Joe has already converted, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are as real as a hot Texas day and a flea ridden dog corpse laying in the gutter.
I have read all my life. I come from a family of readers. I had never read the book that I wanted to write. The book that above all others, I wished I had written. Sure, I had read countless books I loved, admired and read again. Not a single one, however, that lit the fuse directly to my soul and exploded.
Joe R. Lansdale, simply put, made me want to write. He made me want to reach into my imagination and my life experience and drag that stuff out kicking and screaming into the sunlight. He re-awakened all of the characters, bar room stories, bar room brawls and 2a.m. conversations I had ever had or been a party to. His writing reminded me of standing on high ground at dawn with a couple of good friends, the worse for beer and cigar tails trailing into the tree tops, putting what was wrong with the world to order.
I have read and re-read the entire Hap and Leonard series and I am itching for the latest two instalments, Hyenas and Devil Red to land on my porch mat.
It is as a tribute and homage to Joe that my own series of books set in Liverpool and coming before the end of the year, wears the title Mersey Mojo. I am going to keep the details to myself for the time being but suffice it to say that Joe crossed my mind a number of times in writing these books. And whilst it would take a far braver man than I to claim any semblance of parity, I am, in my own way, attempting to infuse the spirit of what made me stand back and start again when I read Joe’s books. I am trying to create a world as magical, weird and downright violent as East Texas. Fortunately, Liverpool has provided me with one hell of a playground in which to set these stories. I hope my love for the city and its inhabitants comes through in my words.
I buy Joe’s paperbacks just about whenever I see them. It means I have spares, which in turn means I can pass them on. Pride of place; a signed edition of Captain’s Outrageous that I stumbled across here in Liverpool. It made me feel as though the whole thing was coming back full circle and it was time to breathe fire into these plots and characters in my mind.
Look out for the Rifkin & Whelan Mersey Mojo series around November of this year. In the meantime, if you want to check out the King of Mojo His Own Self, look no further than Joe R. Lansdale.