Good day you blog reading lovelies! I hope you’re all well. Welcome to my second and final Fahrenbruary Q&A, I enjoyed my session with Ariana so much that I ripped the bandage off and approached another Fahrenheit Press author to quiz him on all things writing and #SconeGate. If you haven’t read my previous Q&A as part of #WeekOfAriana, you can read it here (*spoiler* I agree with her pronunciation of scone!)
Today, I welcome J.J. DeCeglie to my blog! As part of the Q&A process, I googled him for information to help with questions, his real name is Jeremy and not only is he the author of one of my #Fahrenbruary reads; Drawing Dead,. As well as this fantastic read, he has also written other novellas, as well as written, directed AND produced two feature films, including ‘Jugular’ in 2013 that premiered at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2013 where it won best film, best director and best actor. That’s one hell of a literary CV!
I want to start by thanking Jeremy for taking the time to answer my initial questions, then the questions I continued to throw at him via email. The time difference wasn’t as much as a problem as I initially thought it’d be! We begun the Q&A (after introductions) the way I think I will now always begin a Q&A from now on, so sit back with your cup of tea, coffee or wine and enjoy!
Hi Jeremy, thank you for taking part in this Q&A for #Fahrenbruary!
Hey Danielle, thank you for taking the time to do this!
Not a problem, I thoroughly enjoyed Drawing Dead, and I wanted to get to know the writer behind the book and of course Jack Andrelli! Before we delve deeper into your writers mind, I’m hoping that you can settle a fun blogging debate between myself, Kelly aka From Belgium With Love and Mart aka The Beardy Book Blogger. In the UK we have a much loved baked good known as the ‘scone’. Are these delicious treats available in Australia? If so, how do you pronounce the word? Scone like ‘stone’ or like ‘gone’?
Yes, We have them. I’m partial to jam and cream on mine. It rhymes with ‘gone’ if you say it with a British accent, ‘John’ if you say it with an Australian one.
Ah, Jeremy! Mart will be so happy that he’s not the only one that says scone wrong! Kelly, myself and Ariana believe it’s like ‘stone’ aka the right way *giggles*. I am also partial to cream and jam on my scone; jam first of course! What about you?
Oooh, I’ve never tried a scone with margarine on it, I’ll have to give it a go! On the subject of food, do you have any writing / reading go – to snacks?
Coffee and protein bars
Ohhh, I like your style! I have a draw full of protein and cereal bars, anything with chocolate and / or nuts are bought and feasted on during blogging and reading. I originally had a reading closet, in which I blogged and read, have you got a favourite place to write?
At the moment it’s just a small desk with a view over my right shoulder out towards the Melbourne skyline. Books and notepads neatly piled around me. I do like to have a view of some kind if I can. Taking notes is a different process. Ii can do it in cafes, airports, trains, libraries etc.
You’ve said that during the note taking process of writing that you can sit in public places. Do you people watch? Do you think it helps?
It isn’t something I do all the time, but when I do it’s more about catching a vibe…the architecture, the weather, the lighting…it works well for me if I ever get stuck in a spot, it can kinda break ideas and phrases loose.
I can take them back with me and work on them over time.
For those of you who haven’t read ‘Drawing Dead’ yet, and why the hell not? Here’s the blurb:
Jack Andrelli is a private eye. He’s also a booze-sodden, big-mouthed, gambling addict with a death wish.
Haunted by the suicide of his teenage girlfriend and in hock to a gangster, Jack meets a femme fatale who offers him a case that might just solve his problems once and for all.”
And this is the beautiful front cover, it has to be one of my favourites!
My review of Drawing Dead is scheduled for tomorrow, so i’m keeping my lips sealed on what I thought of it. That being said, how would you describe DD in your own words?
Literary psycho noir
For those of you who are unaware (I too had to google it), Psycho Noir is a sub – genre of neo – noir which tends to be more surreal and twisted that usual neo noir. You clearly have a talent for writing a variety of novels in a variety of genres. What do you enjoy about noir writing?
It gives you space to go anywhere you want, with any voice you please. There are conventions, but they’re easily reinterpreted in ways that interest me. The next novel Fahrenheit Press are publishing pushes the boundaries of Neo-Noir even further I think. I’m looking forward to everyone being able to check it out.
As I’ve said, you’ve written two previous novels that aren’t of the noir kind, they’re philosophical and despairing. What other genre pools would you like to dip a toe or two into?
I’m a huge science – fiction fan, in cinema and literature.
Did you have a particular writing / planning process in regards to Drawing Dead? Where did it all begin?
It started in a fevered state, feeling half-dead in a cheap hotel room in Northern Thailand. I’d gotten quite ill whilst back-packing and caught bits and pieces of a film at around 4am in the morning in between delirious dreams. Parts of the story got lodged in my brain.
It turned out to be John Dahl’s Kill Me Again.
I wrote a screenplay first. Intricately plotted it out. It was something I dabbled with trying to get made back home in Fremantle years before Jugular. Like most independent films, it never panned out. I don’t think I ever really liked what I’d written enough to put in that kind of effort really. It was just a standard crime film. Told from multiple viewpoints. Making a film is a very different process to writing a book in terms of effort. You have to totally committed to it. And convince others to do the same.
Then I moved to Melbourne. At that particular time I was really devouring Neo-Noir novels, chewing through 2, sometimes 3 a week. I’d been through Hammett, Chandler and Cain years before. I’d read most of Jim Thompson and Patricia Highsmith. I found books like Ken Bruen’s ‘The Guards’, Daniel Woodrell’s ‘Tomato Red’ and ‘The Death of Sweet Mister’, Adrian McKinty’s ‘Dead I Well May Be’ and all of Jason Starr’s early novels. They were pushing boundaries in style and complexity. Able to take things further down dark roads.
I always prefer DePalma to Hitchcock. (Don’t get me wrong, Vertigo is one hell of a film.)
Not to say I don’t love Hitchcock, but I come back to DePalma much more.
I think in general most of my favourite books are written in the first person. It allows both a complexity and simplicity at the same time. You get a particular world-view, you get Holden Caulfield, Jake Barnes, Nick Carraway or Sal Paradise.
It was awhile ago now, but I remember once I found the voice, once I knew it, I wrote the novel in a burst of around 2 months, recharging long writing bouts with large doses of iced coffee and the occasional chocolate muffin.
Wow, that’s amazing, your love for noir novels helped you to develop not only an understanding of noir, but helped you to determine the way that you wanted to go with your own work; it sounds like you just had to find the right muse. Jack Andrelli is the protagonist of Drawing Dead, an arsehole that you can’t help but like. How did you create Jack? Did the storyline mould around him, or did the storyline come first and Jack was injected?
I just started writing in his voice one day. It came to me and I went along for the ride. The plot was basically already planned out. I just had shape it around Jack and his world view. He would spend more time at certain junctures in the plot and less time at others. Chenko was an addition to the original plot. The engaging part was having Jack figure out how to get to his desired destination without having all the information I had. He had to acquire information on the blind-spots whilst drinking and gambling and being distracted by women. Describing the world through Jack’s messed-up interpretation of it was kinda fun. A crazy drunken rat working his way through a maze.
Drawing Dead was not your debut novel, that was ‘The Sea is Not Yet Full’ (which you can find here) that was published in 2005. How would you say that you’ve developed as an author between 2005 and 2011; when Drawing Dead was first published?
Early on I was mostly writing semi-autobiographical fiction, extrapolating from my life and extending it along certain lines. Dealing with young men, the dilemmas and exhilarations they encountered in their existence. I’m still dealing with versions of masculinity, exploring it within different modes and genres.
‘A crazy drunken rat working his way through a maze’ I have to agree with you there, what a great way to put it! You’ve previously dabbled in the word of feature films, writing, directing and producing your first feature film ‘Jugular’ in 2013. Could you give us a brief description of the film, and what steered you down the film production route?
It was something I’d always planned on doing. I’m a cinephile. I love movies. Most writers do. I wrote the screenplay, a psychological horror film, about a guy who gets an apartment cheaply because the last tenant committed suicide in the shower. The previous occupant was also the main suspect in a serial murder case. The protagonist slowly twists into an obsession with the man who used to live there. I wrote it immediately after Drawing Dead. I planned to make it as a one-man crew, inspired by guys like Robert Rodriguez and Edward Burns. It got a little interest from some small production companies and I got sidetracked with that path awhile. When I refocused on making it by myself things moved pretty fast.
I need to watch that film! For any fans out there who’d also like to watch it, where can it be purchased? Where can we watch it?
It’s in limbo at the moment, a long story I won’t bother with here…but I’m going to be making it available for everyone on various platforms this year. I’ll keep you posted.
If you were to produce a feature film of Drawing Dead, what actor would you choose to play Jack and the femme fatale?
Right now, I think i’d go with Ben Foster and Jennifer Lawrence.
These two would be perfect! I loved Ben Forster in ‘The Mechanic’! Talking about cinematic points of Drawing Dead, what would the three songs you’d like to be included on the soundtrack or a playlist? And why?
I went with my gut on those.
Those are being added to my playlist as we speak, I’m not going to lie, I don’t have a wide range of music in my play, although there’s a mixture of Avenged Sevenfold, Celine Dion and Muse, but I do know and love the song ‘Dominoes’. It’s very fitting to Jack’s womanizing ways, it’s as though all the songs were made for Jack and his escapades. In hindsight, would you give your ‘newbie’ writer self any advice?
When independently publishing your first novel, don’t print so many copies you damned fool!
Everyone loves a den made of books though, so you should be patting yourself on the back for printing so many copies! Think glass half full! Do you have any writing regrets? Or writing goals?
I admired immensely, guys like Dan Fante, Bukowski, Barry Gifford, Jerry Stahl and I was stoked…but a bad financial run after the downturn forced them made a decision to only publish established authors, which I totally understood, but it was tough break.
Well, I’ll be routing for you to get that done! Are you working on anything new at the moment?
It’s called ‘Empty Are The Ways Of This Land’.
A madman’s blundering and criminal tour through Vegas and some of the southern parts of the U.S of A.
*After discussing with Fahrenheit Press*
“Truth is I shoulda been in Costa fucking Rica by now…
Instead I was about as south as you could get and still be in the country.
Blundering over by the East Coast but nowhere near a beach.
Darkly dreaming all idyllic of the West of the continent.
Roaming savage through towns of no foreseeable or fathomable consequence.
Landing ragged in some sorry-ass locality, the US of godawful A.
A little haemorrhoid just before things went Mex on ya.
Ramshackle backward shit.
Beer and guns and incest mostly. Kind of place where street signs are riddled with shotgun pellet holes. The sun piercing through in concentrated little dots on dead grass and dried dogshit.
Now I could say that I was minding my own business but that would be a lie.
The reality of it was that I had blown what I had in Vegas and then got the fuck on my horse and galloped till the beast had died a violent choking death beneath me. I’d gotten money from a job I’d never done and then blown the cash like a teenage boy does his wad under the hand of a real woman. Gutted like a fish at the casinos. Carcass feasted on by remorseless wolves. The rest thrown away on hookers and cocaine and hillbilly heroin. Had me a right time until I didn’t.
Throw on top of that disaster the fact that the job I’d done got real messy and the heat was coming down on me from every motherloving angle and you’re at the beginnings of an understanding.
Vegas is only so big you know, doesn’t take much for a man to get boxed in. I knew if I hung around I’d just borrow some more cash and not give a shit about the ridiculous juice they charged on top the initial cause I’d be bombed on $1 margaritas betting small fortunes on the NBA playoffs; like an asshole I’d reasonthat I could gamble and win cause I was smarter than shit, I’d forget that that’s how they’d built the fucking place – on assholes who think they can win cause they’re exactly that.
Vegas accounted for the fuckwit factor, that’s the only sure bet in the entire goddamned town; or I’d end up a bloodied and beaten mess, good chance of that, or locked up fighting cops in a frenzied fucking fit, equal chance there too, or maybe drugged out my mind and living in a outskirt hotel sunstruck hell with a whore of some ethnic denomination and suicide dancing all seductive in my mind.
Good chance of all three in some twisted artless combination.
With me, by fuck, it was almost a certainty.
Fact was I was doing most those things in degrees already.
Story of my life
Bet your goddamned ass we will.”
Wow, thank-you that sounds amazing. I can’t wait to read the whole book! As a writer, you must love reading, who are your literary heroes?
This can change on any given day…. at this very moment, i’d say J.G Ballard, Dostoevsky and Hemingway. Ask me tomorrow and i’d say Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Paul Auster.
You have a fantastic range there Jeremy! Let me ask you this, if you were sent to a desert island and you were allowed to take one book, what book would it be?
‘A Fan’s Notes’ by Fred Exley. It never fails to make me laugh.
I’ll have to check it out, I’m always looking for new book recommendations (as well as shelves to put them on!). I’ve had so much fun doing this Q&A, thank you Jeremy for rolling with the questions upon questions! It’s been spectacular! Is there any thing you’d like to add before we go our separate ways?
Long live Fahrenheit Press!
We agree!! We love Fahrenheit Press! My reading recommendation, is definitely Drawing Dead, I’ve even provided the purchasing link here (paperback) and here (kindle), just to make your job easier!
Just because we’ve celebrated #Fahrenbruary in February, doesn’t mean that you can’t buy, read, review and rave about all things Fahrenheit Press and F13Noir throughout the year. Whether you’re a blogger or not, lets keep showing the Fahrenlove year round!
You can follow Jeremy, Fahrenheit Press and F13Noir on twitter; keep up to date with future works, and news!
Whatever you’re reading,