Host: Hello fans. This week, we’re going to be joined by Bob, who is a professional writer. Bob is a novelist who has been quite productive over the past 20 years. He’s written a variety of different novels, short stories, and literary pieces that explore the topics of human nature, friendship, and heartbreaking loss. Welcome to the show, Bob! Thanks for joining me here.
Bob: No problem. I uh, didn’t think we’d be meeting at Star . . . (Host interrupts.)
H: Shhh. Let’s focus on the career, Bob. There is a special direction your writing has taken recently. Why don’t we begin with that?
B: Uh, sure, yeah. (Awkward pause.) I don’t remember recitation as being part of learning algebra. You?
H: No, can’t say I do. The novel. One might say that you’ve dedicated your adult life to the process?
B: You could definitely say that. Sorry, what was your name again?
H: Francis. Moving on, you’ve recently changed your approach to the novel. Would you explain for the audience what the change has involved?
B: Sure. For a long time, I was writing for the Vintage Contemporaries set, you know, literary crap about nothing in particular. I wanted to talk about relationships, weirdos, misanthropes, the one who got away (then was gotten), so on. I did this for about ten years, then came to realization that there’s a reason most of this stuff is not published in hardback. The publishers make exactly zero on that crap.
H: I quite enjoyed Montana Lemon Zest–one could say it was quite a zinger!
B: I was on kind of a limoncello kick when I wrote that thing. There was that and I realized that my old-days hero, Tom McGuane, lived in Montana. There was always inspiration, which I’d come to realize something about.
H: Do tell!
B: What? (Looks annoyingly at kid reciting an algebraic formula at the encouragement of a twenty-something male schmuck providing some kind of instruction.)
H: Montana? What was the allure?
B: Oh, yeah. I don’t know, really. I hated everything I read in college, and McGuane wrote about alcoholic misanthropes, so I thought I’d do that. It got me a New York deal, and I thought I was set.
H: You’d think . . .
B: Well, my landlord had a problem with it. There I was, all set to bask in my success, and the fucker still wanted a rent check. I showed her an advance copy of my book, and she was like, “where’s the rent?”
H: They still gave advances back then, I thought . . .
B: Oh yeah. It was like two grand. I spent it at Liquor Locker immediately . . . figured royalties would kick in, then the screenplay.
H: Oh, I’m sorry! Was there a film?
H: Were the royalties significant?
B: So you wanted to talk about what I’m doing now, right, Frank?
H: Francis. Yes.
B: Well, after a few of the literary things just basically punched me in the nutsac, I decided that a different approach was in order. I mean I work at the DMV, so anything would be better, right? Thank fuck nobody looks for your name there . . .
H: Let’s focus on the books, please. You were saying?
B: I needed to find a way to make some money, so the age-old idea was to write fuck books. You know, romance, smut, whatever.
H: Your literary works definitely showed your talent for the relationship side of things.
B: Yeah, thanks. What the fuck do kids do in school these days? There must be like eight of these tutor-student bullshits in here right now? Does Starbucks employ these people? How much do you think having a kid read algebra out loud pays?
H: To romance. I must say that when I saw your name on the cover of an erotica title in Amazon, I was shocked. The cover was quite standard, what with the nearly-naked, shaven, heavily-muscled man in a sport coat holding flowers.
B: I fuckin’ hate the covers. But you have to, you know. It’s a chick’s market.
H: How do you mean?
B: It’s not just romance. Dudes don’t read. Something like 70% of the people who buy books are women. I wish I’d known before taking up the mystery gig–that paid worse than the literary shit . . .
H: Would you say that you’ve lost your passion for telling a story?
B: I wouldn’t say that. I don’t know what I’d say, really. Fuck books are where it’s at, once you figure out how to sell one. It’s like putting a puzzle together. Once you get good at it, you can slap ’em together like puzzles for stupid kids. What was the question?
H: Passion for the story?
B: Oh, yeah. It’s dead. I hate working at the DMV–there’s no romance in that shit, but it pays the bills, mostly.
H: Have you researched the romance market?
B: Oh yeah. It’s great. There’s some decent story, and not much fucking at all, really. You just have to write one like every month, which is a bit of downer.
H: Could one say that this is the state of fiction brought about by the eBook?
B: Yeah. (Turns to kid at table with balding adult tutor in tow: “Math is not a verbal enterprise, genius! Zip it!”)
H: (In hushed tone: “I come here a lot, Bob. Please, be gentle.”) On the point of the romance, what struck me about finding yours is that you decided to use your actual name, instead of a clever female pseudonym, like most romance writers. What was your motivation?
B: I figured there might be somebody out there who read one of my old books. You know, back catalogue and what not.
H: Did you find this to be the case?
B: No. Not at all.
H: What are your plans going forward?
B: I’m gonna get the fuck out of this place. It’s like fucking detention or something.
H: That’s a wrap, folks! We’ve got Bret Easton Ellis on the schedule!