This year finds me briefly veering back over to the nonfiction side of the publishing world with Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life, a second collection of interviews with authors including James Ellroy, Pete Dexter, Daniel Woodrell, Elmore Leonard and the late, great James Crumley. Rogue Males also features an account of a trip to the desert to interview crime fiction greats Ken Bruen and James Sallis about the craft of writing.
Rogue Males will be published by Bleak House in two simultaneous versions: a durable hardcover edition, and a trade paperback edition. Technically, both versions are supposed to release in middle May; in actuality, it’s looking more like very early April.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving a little background about each writer featured in Rogue Males. We kick it off with singer/songwriter Tom Russell, who on face might seem a curious interview subject for a book dominated by crime novelists.

In fact, Tom Russell is probably the only singer/songwriter with a degree in criminology. His song catalogue also contains a number of crime inflected compositions including the James Ellroyesque “Tijuana Bible,” a tribute to Texas über defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes and his Orson Welles-inspired, Borderland masterpiece “Touch of Evil,” among many, many others. (I actually dedicated my debut novel, Head Games, to Mr. Russell, because the book was written to a steady soundtrack of his music.)

Russell also penned his own crime novel, although the work has only appeared in Norwegian translation.
To get a sense of Russell the prose writer, check out his Borderland blog. If you haven’t sampled his music, his recent posting to YouTube of a new song, “Guadalupe,” is a pretty sublime place to start.

Tom Russell interview excerpt: “In this culture, I’d hate to be an insider. I’d be playing 18 holes of golf a day and listening to country music. This other crap. A fear-driven culture. If they call me an outsider, that’s fine because it leaves me alone to do whatever I feel like, really.”


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