A Single Shot is in many ways a different breed of noir than other, less daring works of crime fiction—particularly in regard to the way the novel ends. Was choosing a fate for Moon difficult for you? Or did it simply seem like the natural conclusion all the way through your writing process? (Did you have this beginning in mind right from the start?)
I had no idea how the novel would end when I began it or, in fact, until the moment it unfolded while I was writing it. Once I have the characters I’m writing about in mind – i.e. once I feel that I know them – I try to think as little as possible while writing. And I never outline or plan out in advance what will happen in a novel or to the people in it. Once I’ve created the characters, the story as I see it comes more from them, than from me. I do my best to follow wherever they lead me and, through my own filter, accurately record their accounts. I’ve never had much luck in trying to manipulate anything to come out a certain way in my own life, and doubt I’d be any better at it in the lives of fictional characters. Plus I can’t imagine the monotony of writing from an outline. I sit down to write each day with only a vague idea of where I’m headed – and never knowing where I might end up – which for me makes writing more of an adventure than a task.
What are some of your personal favorite novels, and do you see any of their influence in A Single Shot, looking back on it now?
I’m an eclectic reader and a lover of many novels, though two unifying elements are found in the ones I admire most; indelible characters whose stories are compelling because of who they are; and a rich evocation of the particular world they live in. In that vein some that, in no particular order, come readily to mind are, Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Collector, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, The Sheltering Sky, Augie Marsh, A Flag For Sun Rise, The Quiet American, The Stars At Noon, Suttree, The Killer Inside Me, The Risk Pool, The Cement Garden, Paris Trout, The Professional, Mystic River, Affliction, Fat City, etc.
I don’t in truth see the influence of anyone else’s work in A Single Shot (or, for that matter, in any of my work except possibly in my novel Deepwater the opening scene of which, in retrospect, may have its inspiration in a favorite novel of mine) any more than I think the way in which I speak is influenced by the voices of other people I admire or care about.
More objective readers of the work might see something I don’t, I’m not sure. It would be interesting for me to know.