I wish it was that personal, but even in a large audience it was no less intimate or entertaining. The Globe & Mail book editor Jared Bland was the host and guided the evening with thoughtful questions and well-timed queries when things went interestingly sideways. Here are some take-aways from the evening.
When asked about book outlines Barclay said, “I need a bit of an outline to help me later on down the line.” But for Pelecanos it was vastly different, “I sit at diner counters and eavesdrop on the conversations around me and I go into prisons, or interviews guys who have just got out.”
Very different approaches but as discovered later on in the interview Pelecanos is used to writing TV scripts on the fly. When writing for The Wire, “at times a page was written and then shot while the next page was being written.”
This morning I happened to see Pelecanos on the Global TV Morning Show where he reinforced his method, “I go to bars and order a beer and listen. I don’t ask questions, I just listen.”
Every author has something they dislike for Barclay its writing descriptions, “Nobody remembers the colour of someone’s hair 200 pages later. What they remember is what they said, the emotion behind it and how they felt.”
When asked about the authors that influenced them the most or that are their heroes, for Barclay it was Ross MacDonald and his Lew Archer character. Pelecanos was more expansive and spoke of Elmore Leonard (the audience responded with ahhs and sighs.)
Pelcanos had been working on a book when he got a phone call inviting him to a party with the electrifying words, “Elmore Leonard will be there.” He met Leonard on the way into the party, as he was outside quietly smoking by himself. Elmore was very gracious when approached. They spoke and became friendly, “I would never presume to say we were friends. But that’s what I want to be like, still writing quality books well into my 80s.”
There was only time for a few Q&As before the evening wrapped up. I was left feeling I wanted more time with them and have little doubt I was alone on that.
By chance I met a photographer Diego Rojas who was photographing the event for Demotix and he sent me a link to the pics he took during the IFOA events. Meanwhile, have a look at his work on his blog Eye for the World when you get a chance.
How often have you left an event wishing it had been longer? What unexpected connections have you made?