Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Jim Lindsay author of The Little Bastards.
Jim was born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1947 and was raised on a farm near the small town of Shedd. After eight years in a two room grade school, Jim went onto Albany Union High School where he graduated in the 1960's during the Cold War. He served in the Navy Reserve and attended college for a year and a half that was followed by forty-two years of framing.
Norm: Good day Jim and thanks for participating in our interview.
Do you recall how your
interest in writing originated?
Jim: I like to read and began to get interested in how things were written to make the story fun and easy to read. I had no interest in writing in school. The last time I was steered one way or another about organized writing was in high school senior bone-head English.
Later in life I read a lot of hot rod magazines and began to notice how the articles were written, not just what was written. I tried my hand at it and my article was published in Hot Rod and Kulture Magazine. I then wrote an Auto biography about my life evolving hot rods and racing. It was a learning experience for sure, but it came out readable and was noticed.
A representative of an old disbanded hot rod club contacted me with the question; “Would you consider writing the clubs history?” I was honored of course and began the project. I met several of the old members who were in their middle to late 70’s then and still full of enthusiasm. They were wonderful, getting out the scrapbooks with eyes sparkling. Disagreement developed within the membership over what was real and what wasn’t. One member became angry with me and some of the other members, so I reluctantly dropped the project. By then I knew I was going to write something, and it was going to be about kids like these that I had interviewed but it was going to be fictional.
Norm: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book, The Little Bastards?
Jim: I wanted to write a book about the lives of fictional characters out of the 50’s. Bad boys and bad girls who were rebels similar to the character James Dean played in Rebel without a Cause. I wanted to start their lives when they were pre-puberty and take the reader through the phase starting with pedalling bicycles and into high school, beer drinking, racing and rock n roll. The boys were mischievous throughout hence, I called them The Little Bastards.
Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Jim: I wanted to reach a large audience, so I painted with a large brush. I wanted the book to fit the memories of readers who had lived through that era and readers who are curious of what it was like. I didn’t want the reader to have to be a greaser to feel friends with this book. From notes I receive and reviews I have gotten I and who the generous opinions of my book came from, I’m pretty happy.
Norm: What was the most
difficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy
most about writing this book?
Jim: The first book of the trilogy covers 5 years of the kid’s lives. It was a challenge to get everything in the right order and match it up with events of the time. The most fun part of writing the book for me was I felt I was in it. I see my thoughts as a movie and I can be an actor along with the characters or I can watch from near or far. It was tiring to be in a mind of a 16-year-old carrying he’s enthusiasm and passion. I would have to rest my tired old body and mind at times to catch up.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Jim: It was an example of an on-the-job training for me. I wrote the book and then with help of a recent college graduate, off for the summer I rewrote it many times. Getting the time-line right and the facts straight wasn’t as fun as the making up the story I found. I read Steven King’s book, “On Writing at this time and it was a “god sent.” I’m fortunate that I have a voice. And I write in a simple way, using the least amount of words I can.
Norm: If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? As a follow up, is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
Jim: Because they will love it. I really think that. Sonny Mitchell, the main character and narrator of the book is a cool kid. The kind of person anyone would love to hang out with. He’s a teenage rebel heartthrob, but caring and honest. He is hero material who gets what he wants, not as a gift or from stealing, but from hard work and good planning. He proves to the reader that anything is possible if you use your head and you can have fun doing it. Readers have told me over and over again that the book leaves them feeling good. Why shouldn’t they read my book?
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Jim: My writing is a result of my upbringing for sure. The Characters I use have quirks gathered from my real friends, family and acquaintances of mine. My parents made me go to Sunday school and church. I didn’t care for it much at the time and It was a pain in the ass for my mom and dad but I know now why they did it. I was fortunate to have a real family with a brother and a dog and chores to do. The world is not all love though and I know what bad guys are like too.
Norm: Would you say that the publication of your first novel is the culmination of a life long dream?
Jim: No. I’ve had lots of lifelong dreams, but writing a book was never one until late in my life. Being successful and independent are my life long dreams.
Having a happy family and good health are lifelong dreams. I wanted to be able to have any hobby I wanted when I felt the time was right to retire from farming. I like building and racing hot rods. My writing came late but not without enthusiasm. I must love it. I work at it awfully hard.
Norm: How much of the
book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or
events in your own life?
Jim: My book and it’s characters are from small town America in the 50’s and so am I. The 50’s caught me at a time when I noticed everything. The world was flashing by pretty fast but my mind was fast then. I remember minute details of things that interested me at the time. I think everyone is that way we just have different interests. Some people could tell what baseball was like then and who played who were their heroes and so on.
My deal was the car culture. Rock n roll music leaking from a chopped down window of a 50 Mercury coupe, close enough I could see her lipstick and catch a whiff of perfume. And then the roar of twin exhaust pipes as the heap left the station with the guy on the gas and tires smoking. The car might have had Firestone whitewalls and Oldsmobile flipper hubcaps. I remember all of it, so I have the parts and pieces and ammunition to put a story together. None of my writing is really real; just close.
Norm: How did you go about creating the character of Sonny Mitchell?
Jim: I like the name Sonny. To me the name has a bounce to it. It’s optimistic and bright; just like Sonny is in the book. Sonny is a hero kid so he has to be special. He has all the feelings, even fear but it doesn’t show much. He’s very cool and looks like James Dean, or Elvis, but thinks like Marlon Brando. He looks ahead - a planner and wants things and likes money and will work for it. He has to be cocky. Why wouldn’t he be? His self-built hot rod is the fastest car in town, the envy of every boy in high school and a heartthrob to every girl.
Norm: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Jim: I hear constantly from readers. Mostly by e-mail. My book is icon of the car culture community and there is a rumor mill going there always. One of the subjects is; “When will the 2nd book be out?” It’s a wonderful feeling to get these feed backs and I always answer them. It’s humbling.
Norm: What will you be doing for promotion and how much of it is your doing?
Jim: I have a booth made up that I take to indoor cars shows. Big events like Goodguys and National Street Rod Assn.
I encouraged all forms of media to review my book and I also attend book club meetings when asked and I speak at library’s – that sort of thing. I now have Scott Lorenz, an enthusiastic book publisher helping me so I’ll be on call whenever he wants me to blabber my book.
Norm: Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
Jim: Yes. Absolutely yes. I dare readers to read my book, and I appreciate someone who takes time to do it. Readers are good judges of books.
When someone buys a book from me at an event I stand up and shake hands with them and thank them and encourage them to like the book. It’s nice when they show up next year raving about it, especially in front of someone considering buying the book. I try never to sound like a salesman.
I’m just another reader with common interests.
Norm: How can our readers find out more about you and your endeavors?
Norm: What is next for Jim Lindsay?
Jim: Publish the finished book; Swerve, the 2nd in a trilogy about Sonny Mitchell and his little bastard friends. I have a good start on a bio of Chuck Mawhinney, an accomplished Viet Nam era Marine Sniper, then it will be back to the trilogy and writing the 3rd Little Bastards book. All time racing, hot roding and having fun.
Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Jim: How does it feel to sell a million copies?
Norm; Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors