Versatile East Texan storyteller Lansdale goes all over the genre map in The Best of Joe R. Lansdale.
Who chose the stories in Best of?
Jacob Weisman, the Tachyon editor, chose them. He had to like them and think they were varied and important to his readers. I’m happy with all of them. They’re not all jewels, but they’re all mine.
Do you have a favorite?
“Night They Missed the Horror Show” is my signature story. It changed my life, so it remains my favorite. When it came out it got lots of attention, has had many imitators, and it showed my voice had developed into mine, and not just a parroting of others.
What was your first published short story?
It was a novella in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. I think it was called “The Full Count.” I sent Sam Merwin, the editor, a story that he told me was pretty close, but no cigar. I reworked it, sent it back. He told me he hated it more every time he saw it and to try something new. So I did. And he bought it.
Who are your influences?
Edgar Rice Burroughs taught me pace and gave me a sense of action and adventure. Ray Bradbury taught me the importance of metaphor and simile and poetic style. Robert Bloch taught me about mixing horror and humor. Mark Twain and Flannery O’Connor taught me satire and irony and connected me to my Southern roots. Jack London taught me how to describe the masculine world I grew up in.
How does your martial arts background influence your writing?
Focus. Dedication. Discipline. Economy of motion. Being in the moment.
What are your thoughts on the fiction being published online?
Any crap someone puts down can see “print” online. There’s no filter. For some that’s a good thing, and it has its place, but on the whole, getting paid for something means someone else thinks it’s good. I’m not suggesting all paid-for printed matter is good, or that all nonpaid Internet material is bad. But without the filter, it leaves miles and miles of any kind of crap someone wants to spill.
Will there be another Best of Joe Lansdale collection?
More collections are forthcoming, and I like to think in five years there will be a “greatest hits” book. And then I hope life allows a volume two.