Interview: Rick Gavin

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Rick Gavin is the author of Ranchero and Beluga, featuring repo man Nick Reid and his best friend Desmond. We’ve scouted around online for info about this man, but he has been – either on purpose or effortlessly – rather elusive. We recently reviewed Beluga and were eager to chat with the author of such funny southern noir, so it was a great honour once I tracked him down that he said yes to an interview with CFL. Here’s what he had to say…

Usually, when I write an interview, I have at least a general bio to go on, but for you, all I know is that you hang sheetrock and frame houses in Louisiana. What inspired you to write your first novel?
I read a lot and hear plenty of stories from the people I work with, so I decided to try my hand at writing a few of them down and shaping them to suit me. It took several tries before I came up with anything worth reading. A friend of mine sent the manuscript to an agent who somehow managed to sell it. Just my luck to have started publishing books as the whole business is going under.

Will you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in Georgia and have lived all over the South. I got as far as junior college while working in construction. I helped a sheet rocker for a week while his buddy was out sick and picked up the trade. It lets me work when I want to and write when I don’t. I spent a few months working on a job in the Mississippi Delta, and that’s where I started thinking about Nick and Desmond.

I love your brand of humour and rural noir, and I laughed out loud quite a lot while reading Beluga. Wh0 have been your biggest literary influences?
I read a few of Mark Twain’s travel books and couldn’t quite believe how funny they were. It’s easy to make people cry – on the page or in life. Making them laugh is a much taller order. I knew I could do it telling a story but wasn’t sure I could do it writing one, so I gave it a try. I enjoy writing my novels. If they’re only half as entertaining to read as they are to write, then I think I’ll be satisfied. Thanks for laughing out loud.

Did you do any specific research for the books?
If driving around Mississippi qualifies as research, then yes, I have done research for my books. Otherwise, no.

Are Nick and Desmond based on anyone in particular?
I guess Nick is based on the guy I am in my head, while Desmond is based loosely on a fellow I met in a bar outside Clarksdale, Mississippi. I thought he was going to break me in half until he didn’t. We ended up yapping for a couple of hours. He stuck with me.

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Moby Dick. I was convinced I’d be bored silly – 700 pages of whaling – but it nearly blew the top of my head off. How a book like that vanishes from the culture for decades speaks pretty poorly of us.

What’s next for you in 2013?
Novel number three, Druid City, will be published in the fall. Nick and Desmond leave the Delta and go all the way to Alabama.


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