ROGUE MALES: SUBJECT #9, KINKY FRIEDMAN

(Author’s note: Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life, is a collection of author interviews. It includes Elmore Leonard, Lee Child, Pete Dexter, James Ellroy, Daniel Woodrell, Craig Holden and 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. During the next few weeks, I’m sharing a little bit about each of the 16 writers featured in Rogue Males.)

Kinky Friedman:

Country singer/songwriter
Mystery novelist
Animal rescue ranch founder
Proto-Peace Corps member
Nonfiction writer
Former Texas gubernatorial hopeful

I caught the “Kinkster” at a transitional point in his career.

In March of 2005, Kinky Friedman was promoting what he claimed would be the last in his popular series of mystery novels featuring a crime-solver named Kinky Friedman.

In a Sherlockian twist, Friedman really did seem to close out the series with a decidedly doom-tinged end, and, to date, he’s not written another mystery.

Friedman was also embarking on what appeared to be a rather quixotic run for governor of Texas as an independent candidate.

The Lone Star State wasn’t making it easy: elections laws seemed deviously calculated to thwart independent candidacies (as Friedman put it, “It is so perverse. The ribbon-cutters have devised a way where nobody that votes in the primaries can sign the petition. They’re not only not sending the elevator back down to us, but they’ve cut the cable.”).

That said, Kinky Friedman thwarted scoffers by actually securing a ballot position and garnering more votes for governor than many of his supporters probably would have predicted.

Although Friedman is a frequent fixture on cable news talk programs, his cowboy-hat-wearing, cigar-brandishing cross between Groucho Marx and Will Rogers persona is not the Kinky Friedman most in evidence in Rogue Males.

Kinky Friedman interview quote: “I haven’t written a country song in 20 years. Too happy. Well, I haven’t really been happy, but I haven’t been able to recreate that ambiance. And, on the other hand, a lot of great writers like Kristofferson and Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan probably haven’t written a great song in fifteen or twenty years, either. I think success kills greatness. I mean, it makes you not what you’re supposed to be. To really write well, you do have to be, I think, pretty unhappy and unfulfilled. If you’re signing books for a hundred people at Barnes & Noble, well…that’s the kiss of death, yeah.”

NEXT UP: RANDY WAYNE WHITE

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Comment by Dana King on June 1, 2009 at 1:38am
I'm familiar with Kinky's writing, and his appearances on the Don Imus show. Definitely a rogue male, but a LOT more fun than Ellroy.
Comment by Malcolm Holt on May 31, 2009 at 9:48pm
I fondly recall one of Kinky's gems. He told me that when he received his 27th rejection letter for his first novel, he knew that he was sitting on a bestseller.
Comment by Cameron Ashley on May 31, 2009 at 8:31pm
Kinky's the man...

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