The L Mag Questionnaire for Writer Types: Tony D’Souza

by |
09/22/2011 1:47 PM |


Tony D’Souza‘s new book is Mule, “a novel of moving weight,” from which he reads at BookCourt this coming Monday evening.

For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
Lots of people have said that I write page-turners that make you forget you’re reading serious lit. Everyone seems to blow through my books in one or two sittings, whether they’re about the civil war in Ivory Coast, an incestuous intercontinental affair in India and Chicago, or drug trafficking during the recession. But a hell of a lot of hours went into making those pages fly along. Seriously, I spend hours on each line, even if a reader scans it in a second. That’s the way it should be!

What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
I was at the St. Louis Arch recently with my toddlers. I never really paid much attention to it before. But I read in the visitor’s center how the architect took the design from the shape a chain takes when it’s held loose, that curve that gravity pulls it down into. Like a woman’s necklace on the clavicles. He just turned it upside down. Looking at it like that, I was overcome with its simplicity, form, and beauty. Some of the best stuff around us we take for granted because it seems so simple. Like the St. Louis Arch. Raindrops. Falling leaves. And the deceptively easy to read novels of Tony D’Souza.

Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Hmmm… Tiger Woods, but only if we lived in some alternate universe where he was going to be truly honest about his desires. I mean, the guy is the richest, most famous athlete in history and he wants to throw it all away to sleep with the pancake girl. I think that’s wildly interesting. I don’t think it’s interesting that he cheated on his wife. But I would like to read about what was going through his head in an honest way.

Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
Yes, I have been starving myself, my wife, and my two small children since freelance fell off a cliff (at least for me) in 2008. I’ve been writing a lot about the recession lately, and I wouldn’t have written Mule without having been hammered by it, so in that way, the recession has been beneficial, though not at all fun to really live it. The good part about the recession and surviving it is that I’ve learned I have a lot of fight in me, and I’ve been writing hungry and well. I’ve really had to learn how to “Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, HARD!” So yeah, there’s a lot of fear and struggle, especially with the babies now. But it certainly keeps me writing.

What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Depends on the reader. A warm bath and candlelight with some. A phone interview from a undisclosed location with others. Seriously though, I love my readers and spend tons of time with them at events and over email. I read total strangers’ manuscripts all the time. Ooops, I shouldn’t have said that. I have gotten real death threats, though, especially after my second novel, The Konkans, which attacked the Catholic Church a bit, and during the Eric Volz murder trail that I covered in Nicaragua for Outside Magazine. One guy knew my wife was pregnant and he wished our kid would be born deformed. But by and large, people are nice! When I was on TV a lot for the Volz story, I got offers for sex via email, men and women. That was weird. I think people must drink a lot while they watch TV.

Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Absolutely all of it at one time or another. But that’s writing on the edge, where all the good stuff lives…