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Scott R. Larson

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Interview with the author

Every once in a while I get to have the honor and the pleasure of interviewing a filmmaker about his movie. But so far I have not had the honor and pleasure of interviewing an author about his novel. This is probably because this is a movie web site and not a book web site.

Well, I’ve decided it’s time to make an exception. And what more appropriate writer with whom to feature this blog’s first author interview than, well, myself? So here goes: my first auto-interview. The topic? The novel that I told you about last week. I just hope I’m not too hard on myself.

ScottsMovies: Welcome to my web site. Nice to have you.
Scott Larson, Author: Thanks. You’ll have to excuse me. I’m very nervous.

SM: Now, don’t you worry your pretty little head. We only ask softball questions here.
SL: That’s very reassuring.

SM: First of all, let’s talk about your book’s title: Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. It’s, uh, very long. Do you think that was a good idea? I mean, from a marketing and sales point of view?
SL: You’re absolutely right. You’re obviously a very perceptive and insightful reviewer. I mainly chose it because it came up high when plugged into search engines. But, no, seriously, it was just something my friend Stacy happened to say once in a café or bar, and it just stuck with me. For one thing, it’s an absolutely true statement. For another, it’s a quick and easy way of saying that Mexico—and most of Latin America—is in a post-imperialism age. And I like titles that have the word “dead” in them. Kind of brings in the whole mortality thing.

SM: So, the book is about Mexico.
SL: Well, it is and it isn’t. Mexico isn’t a country that I can claim to know all that well. Personally, I’ve never been in any part of Mexico south of Guaymas. I actually had to do a fair amount of research since most of the book takes place in Mexico. But the book isn’t so much about Mexico as it is about the culture clash between Anglo America and Latin America. In fact, you could even say that the book is really more about Chile—even though absolutely none of the action takes place in Chile and there are no Chilean characters.

SM: Well, that certainly clears things up. Thanks. But tell me, what’s the book really about? I mean what are the big themes you are exploring?
SL: Themes? No one told me books had to have themes. Darn, now I’ll have to start all over. No, seriously, it does have themes. Give me a minute to make some up, I mean, to formulate my thoughts. Okay, here are some. Like I said, it’s partly about what happens when Anglo America brushes up against Latin America. It’s also about not getting cut and dried answers to questions when it comes to history and politics in other cultures. And it’s about being young and male. It’s about those intense friendships that young men form early in their lives, that sometimes have the intensity of a love affair but which can only go so far—if the two guys involved are straight.

SM: Wow. That actually does sound kind of deep. So the book must be kind of a slow-moving, ponderous slog to read.
SL: What? You haven’t read it? What kind of reviewer are you anyway?

SM: Hey! I’m a movie reviewer, not a book reviewer. Look, I’m doing you a favor here.
SL: Right, right, sorry. To answer your question—such as it was—I can’t really be objective about the book, but I think it might be kind of fun to read—at least if you’re male and are—or were—young. So far the male response has been more receptive than the female reaction. And I’m okay with that—although I would hope that female readers would find something they can enjoy in it as well.

SM: So, let’s cut to the chase. The book is about you, right? All this stuff actually happened to you, no?
SL: Yeah, right. All the sex, drugs and gunplay depicted in the book really did happen to me. I admit it. I personally spent time in a Mexican jail and snuck across two international borders when I was 18.

SM: Really?
SL: Hey, get a clue. No, it’s all made up. It’s a novel. It’s fiction. Why is that so hard to understand? Okay, a couple of things really did happen to me. Or to someone else I knew. But no, I was nothing like any of the characters in this book. Okay, I was in the draft lottery the year after I turned 18. And I did grow up in the San Joaquin Valley. And I did go to Tijuana a time or two. But no, this book is just a story. Deal with it.

SM: Are you through yet? Sorry, I was falling asleep there. Okay, so tell me, when can we see this as a movie?
SL: Ouch. You know full well I don’t have a movie deal. Yet. If any big-time—or small-time—filmmakers are reading this, you know where to find me. I think Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead would make a fine movie. It would probably have to be a low-budget indie film with unknown actors. Or former Disney Channel stars—because they would mostly have to be really young—looking to establish acting cred. And the title would definitely have to be changed for the movie. Something like Hot Tamales! or Road Trip: Mexico Here We Come!

SM: So basically, this book is never going to be a movie.
SL: Funnily enough, maybe it already has been. When I got to about the mid-point of the writing, I had a sudden panicky realization that I was essentially re-writing Y tu mamá también—except with gringos. I just hope that Alfonso Cuarón doesn’t sue me.

SM: You mean there’s actually a scene where the two guys…?
SL: You’ll have to read the book.

SM: Okay, we need to wrap this up. So tell me, are you writing any more books? What can we expect from your wondrous word processor in the future?
SL: Thanks for asking. Well, as you know, I write a couple of blogs. But novel-wise, I’ve got a few other books at various stages of writing. The next one is a fantasy novel, believe or not. It started out as something I wrote for a Spanish class assignment in high school. Then it got revised as a bedtime story for my daughter. And now I’ve worked it into a Game of Thrones rip-off. Okay, not actually that intense. And I’ve also started a novel that is set in the burgeoning Seattle software milieu in the 1980s. And I’ve even taken a crack at a story that takes place in the West of Ireland. That one is guaranteed to alienate all of my neighbors and, especially, my in-laws.

SM: What about the characters in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead? Will we see—I mean, read about—any of them again?
SL: Yeah, I’ve actually written a few pages for a sequel, set nine years after the events in the first novel. If it doesn’t turn out to be terrible, I might finish it. And there is one character in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead who, I’ve decided, will appear in every single book I write. Well, except for the fantasy novel.

SM: What will the sequel be called?
SL: I’m toying with the idea of calling it And Napoleon and Josephine Don’t Feel So Good Either. No, I have a working title that could well turn out to be the final title. But I think I will keep it to myself for the time being. But it will definitely be a shorter title than Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead.

SM: Thanks for your time. Just one final comment. I read your official author bio. It was kind of dry. You should try to make it cuter. Something like: he lives in the West of Ireland with his cat.
SL: Nice try, but I hate cute author bios. Besides, I don’t live with the cat. The cat lives with me.

-S.L., 16 June 2014

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