Born–a real live special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement–signed his latest crime thriller Field of Fire.
I’ve been a Lansdale fan for years now. And if the reading was any indication, Lost Echoes continues the great mojo story-telling tradition that has earned the author an Edgar and six Bram Stoker awards. In the span of a single chapter, Lansdale worked his magic, weaving images and dialogue together to evoke humor, sadness, nostalgia, and dread. It’s the kind of writing that both inspires me and makes me want to quit at the same time.
I’m much less familiar with Born’s work. But I have a suspicion I’m going to be a fan very soon. As I learned at the appearance, Born was a technical advisor to none other than Elmore Leonard, easily one of my favorite writers of all time. I’ve never met Leonard; nonetheless his novel Rum Punch is the reason I write crime fiction. In fact, having one of my stories merely appear in the same anthology as one of Leonard’s has been among my proudest moments. Getting the thumbs up from Leonard, as well as his vast law enforcement experience, gives Born tremendous street cred, and I look forward to diving into his work.
Together, the authors put on a damn entertaining show. Born told some great cop stories that had me chuckling more than a few times. And Lansdale? Well, Lansdale was Lansdale, with all that Texas charm and wit. I’d go to see either of these guys again in a heartbeat.
Yet at the end of the evening, I couldn’t help but think about how different they were as writers. Both are very funny. In fact, I’ve seen the word "quirky" in reference to both their works. But from what I understand, Born’s novels are deeply rooted in the real world. He has an insider’s view of crime which I’m told is reflected in the pages. On the other hand, Lansdale seems to dabble in the surreal. Don’t get me wrong; he breathes life into his characters and they jump off the page as true as anyone’s. But there is always something delightfully off center about them and their worlds. They’re bigger than life and yet painfully human.
So here comes the question.
Do you prefer novels that paint a realistic portrait of the world, or do you like your fiction a little over the top?
And before you cheat and claim it depends on your mood at the time, let me remind you of a line from Pulp Fiction. There are Elvis fans and Beatles fans. Elvis fans can like the Beatles, and Beatles fans can like Elvis. But you have to like one more than the other.