Interview with debut mystery novelist James Anderson

special guest is debut mystery author James Anderson. His novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, has already
received a lot of positive reviews, and we have him here to answer a few questions
and give us insight into his writing life.

distills the heat and shimmering haze of the Utah desert into his fine
first novel.”—Publishers Weekly
“We predict The
Never-Open Desert Diner
 will be one of the best books you read in
2015.”—Prose ‘n Cons™ Magazine 
 A striking debut
novel—lyrical, whimsical, atmospheric.”
CJ. Box, New York
 Best Selling author of The Highway and Breaking
“The Never Open Desert Diner
is crime fiction that transcends the noir genre, in the vein of James Lee Burke
and Dennis Lehane.”

—William Hastings, author
of The Hard Way
Welcome, James. Please tell us a
little bit about yourself.
I was born
in Seattle, Washington and raised primarily in Oregon. I attended various
public schools. I was a frequently absent and perpetually poor student. I
graduated from Reed College in Portland with a degree in American Studies, and
then attended graduate school in Boston. Along the way I worked for the Army,
lived in many places around the world, did logging, commercial fishing, sold
cars, and founded and ran a small publishing company. For a short period I
produced documentary films.
Please tell us about your debut
release, The Never-Open Desert Diner.
Ben Jones
is a single, thirty-eight year old truck driver who makes deliveries to people
along a particularly remote stretch of highway in the high desert of southern
Utah. He discovers a woman playing a cello with no strings in the model home of
an abandoned housing development in the desert. I am not really all that
interested in crimes themselves. I am more interested in how the residue of a
crime clings to the lives of people, often disparate strangers, almost like
leaves on water being rocked by a motorboat’s wake a half a world away.
What inspired you to write this book?
What my
friend, nonfiction writer Bruce Berger calls the “intersection of landscape and
humanity.” Particularly the desert. There is a certain fullness of nothing that
has attracted seekers and wanderers for thousands of years. I combined that
with my affection for the mysteries of John D. MacDonald, James Crumley, and
others whose novels seem to derive their beauty and force from the region in
which they are set. I have long been a fan of writers like Barry Lopez, Terry
Tempest Williams, Gretel Ehrlich, as well as Bruce Berger.
I was also
much influenced by Thomas Merton’s Wisdom
of the Desert Fathers
What exciting story are you working on
I am
writing the next Ben Jones novel and also a novel set in Oregon, which I’ve
been working on for several years. Alternately I am also working on two
novellas, short stories, and poems.
When did you first consider yourself a
I never
thought about it. I still don’t. It was something I have always done. Before I
could write I told stories. Okay, lies! I was writing short stories in
elementary school and finished my first novel when I was sixteen. My first
publications in national magazines began when I was around nineteen, a poem
called “Running It Down” in Poetry Northwest.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I am up
every morning around four am. I usually write until about nine. I read in the
evenings, everything from novels, poetry, memoirs and science, particularly
neuro-biology and physics. I also do native stonework from time to time. I used
to run marathons, but all my running friends have become injured or just quit. I
go to the gym now or hike. Once in a while I will run trails. I also do Chinese
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
Just one?
I close my eyes and inhabit the scene. When I open my eyes I write what I saw
and heard. I’m sort of a “method” writer, I guess. Of course that’s during the
rough draft. The detailed nuts and bolts and polishing comes in the revision
process. The novel we are discussing went through fourteen major revisions.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Just a
simple “thank you.” Thanks for reading. Period. My work and everybody and
anybody else.
My book is
available through your local independent bookseller, Barnes and Noble, and other
online venues, as well as through my publisher directly at:
Social media:
Thank you, James! Happy writing!

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