Jen: Today we welcome E.G. Wiser to Romancing the Book. E.G., will you share a short bio with us?
E.G.: I have been a published writer and novelist since some time in the last century, but have only recently begun writing under the pseudonym E.G. Wiser. Closest Encounter is my first of what I anticipate to be many works under that name. Changing identity has completely revitalized me as a writer.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
E.G.: Closest Encounter kind of came about from my on-going love of all things pulp—from the lurid covers and plots to the still timeless writing of its greatest practitioners—people like Jim Thompson and Dashiel Hammett. As I mentioned before, I have a small number of literary books under a different name and after one of them came out I remember a friend asking why I didn’t just write pulp (or neo-pulp, I guess), as my books always tended to have elements of that in them and that was where my sensibilities and affections seemed to lay. I guess I took it to heart. I’m glad I did. I have never had more fun creating a universe.
At the door she hit the buzzer, waited for a minute. There was some small commotion inside—a sliding of bolts, a turning of keys. Finally the door opened to reveal the security guard.
He was the single best-looking security guard she had ever seen. There wasn’t even a close second. He looked like the guy they would use for the cover of a security guard catalog. Black hair, broad shoulders, strong jaw. In fact, he was the person they would have rejected for the cover for having too much sex-appeal. Get me someone blander, the editor would have shouted to his much-put-upon assistant.
“Can I help you?” the sexiest security guard in the history of time said. His lips were of the sort of fullness Beth preferred, which was to say, enough to be pronounced—to seem always a fraction away from forming a pout—but not so much as to seem petulant or anything less than masculine.
“I’m from the state,” she said, surprised at how her own voice broke a little, like she was a schoolgirl startled by the school’s star athlete while simultaneously trying to remember her locker combination. But she was not a schoolgirl. She was Beth August, Special Agent from the state’s Department of Ufology, and she was not a woman whose voice was in the habit of breaking. She attributed it to the strange tingling sensation.
She flashed her ID and swallowed hard to clear her throat of any more residual ridiculousness. “Someone should have told you I was coming.”
The guard stood back, held the door open, smiled.
“I was told,” he said. “But I didn’t even know the state had a Department of Ufology.”
Beth shrugged, entered the building. “The governor watches a lot of TV,” she said.
“So do I,” the guard said. “Still didn’t think the state had any Department of Ufology.”
“Maybe she watches different stations than you do,” Beth said.
Inside, the tingling sensation was about ten times stronger. Her panties became slightly damp. What the hell is that? And the tall and handsome guard wasn’t helping matters any. She could practically feel the heat of his body from where she stood. And the scent of him—some faintness of cologne with a more natural, manly scent on top of it. Jesus, he practically smells like sex…
Jen: What what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
E.G.: I remember asking for and receiving a typewriter for my 13th birthday. I named it Werty. I don’t recall precisely who I was reading at the time that might have spurred me in the direction of writing, but it was probably Kurt Vonnegut or Raymond Chandler. I also remember my brother bringing me a book of Chekov stories when I was sick and being really blown away by them. These were kind of my heroes early on: those writers and my brother. And I loved that typewriter.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
E.G.: I don’t usually do a lot of conscious research on a book. I’ve read up on snakes for the a book I am working on now, but if I am being completely honest, I am not sure if the book features snakes because I was reading about snakes, or I was reading about snakes because the book was always going to have snakes. I suspect it was the former. Snakes kind of terrify me, and when something terrifies me, I want to know more about it—not so I can overcome my fear or anything healthy like that. More so that whatever it is can terrify me even more, which now that I say it, really seems like a terrible idea.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
E.G.: The hardest part about writing for me has always been keeping the details straight—trying to remember things like if you’ve already described someone as having hair the color of wet sand or what time of day it was when a scene started. That sort of mundane stuff can be surprisingly difficult—at least for me. It’s embarrassing to repeat oneself, and even more embarrassing to forget what color your character’s hair is.
But the joy of it is in telling a story—not just to the reader, but to myself for that first time. I have heard writers talk about hating the process. I love the process. Even if I have to sometimes forcibly drag myself to the computer, it always gives me some reward and revelation. It’s a bit like willing a dream into existence and then letting that dream carry you off.
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
E.G.: I’d go to the Harlem Renaissance and I would bring a recording device, a notebook and enough Ginkgo biloba to keep me from ever forgetting.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors?
E.G.: Dashiel Hammett, Vladamir Nabokov, Jane Austen, John Cheever, Richard Brautigan, Fanny Hurst. Philp K Dick, Franz Kafka, Herge… Frankly, it’s a list that changes daily, but some of that lot can usually be found somewhere on it.
Jen: What are you reading now?
E.G.: I have been on something of a Jim Thompson kick of late which was preceded by a P G Wodehuse kick, so it will be interesting to see if some combination of those two disparate influences shows up in any of my writing. I’m also looking forward to reading Isabelle Drake’s new book Off the Rails.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
E.G.: When I finish the first draft of book I like to have a glass of whiskey to celebrate, but often that just means refilling my glass. Sometimes I will tell the cats I am a genius. They seem to believe me. I think they would probably believe me more if they were dogs.
Jen: What’s next for you?
E.G.: The book I am working on now is the first part of a planned trilogy set in the same world as Closest Encounters. Not strictly speaking a sequel, but with certain threads in common. So far it is called Serpent’s Mound, but that is always subject to change.