Saturday, March 31, 2012

A friend of mine, AJ Hayes

Okay.  So AJ doesn't like to throw his mugshot around too much.  But he likes to dream up some thought-provoking poetry.  More importantly, the guy can write some really dark, dark noir stories.
AJ and I met on the internet.  Funny how that happens a lot these days.  Writers meeting writers on the internet.  Separated by miles of distance, yet curiously quite compatible and even similar in many respects when it comes to writing, story telling, and wondering what makes for a good story.

Which is the reason I wanted to interview this bloke.  The guy is a mind-trip when it comes to talking about literature and authors, both famous and infamous.  His kind of writing is straight out of the deepest recesses of a twisted psyche.  When this guy writes a revenge story . . .

Listen to what AJ has to say.  I think you'll find the old boy fascinating.

(Pause when you get to question No. 4.,  consider the answer; do you agree or disagree?  When I read the his answer I found myself in total agreement---yet curiously surprised, for some reason.  Kinda interested in hearing what your reaction will be.)

1.  A.J., I read your interview with Richard Godwin and found it fascinating.  A couple of questions popped into my head.  The first one is this; if you consider yourself a Southern writer--that is someone who identifies with the deep south of the US--the basic question is why?  Why is it necessary for a writer to be so affixed with a regional flavor?

I think a writer is bound to the place of his birth by the common mindsets or heritage of that place. The formative early years pretty much determine who you are for the rest of your life. Sure, you may modify those mindsets or heritages as you mature, but that old song, Stand In The Place Where You Live, got it right. We are all standing in the place where we grew up for all of our days.

2.  The second question which came to mind is, you indicated you had it, basically, rough as a youth.  A grandfather that was important to you; perhaps parents that weren't.  How do these emotional roller coaster rides in one's youth affect a writer's take on Life and The World around him?  Did your past create a better writer or a more cynical writer?

I think it's not so much the emotional and physical toll our past takes as the fact we survived that past. In a lot of ways Nietzsche was right. Strength comes simply from survival. A good question to ask yourself every single morning you wake up is: "Am I alive?" If the answer is yes, then of course it informs your writing for the better. If the answer is "I don't know" then you must hide behind devices like cynicism or snark to survive.

3.  I've read several of your poems and many of your stories.  I like them both.  But I lean toward the dark surreal-noir of your stories more so than your poetry.  Why dark noir?  Why this genre from a gifted writer who is deeply knowledgeable when it concerns the many aspects of traditional literature.

Oh hell, call it my sunny disposition I guess. Seriously, I like to find the reasons and logic behind the darkest of behaviors -- and believe me, there are perfectly valid and thoughtful reasoning processes behind any frame of reference, bet it Mother Teresa or John Wayne Gacy. Of course Gacy's logic and reasoning are for the most part beyond human understanding. Still, by inhabiting like personalities, a writer has a shot at understanding those reasons better than most people.

4.  Be blunt; what makes a good noir writer?  A good hard boiled writer?  What is it that clicks in your head and tells you that this writer is fantastic.

For one, poetry. There has to be a rough poetry in their prose. For poetry is the only way a human soul can truly express itself. Not rhyming couplets or iambic pentameter but the real poetry that life sings to us every day. I think in the heart of every noir writer there is a crusader, a seeker, an avenging angel and a poet going down those "Mean Streets."

5.  Character or plot---which is more important for you as a reader and as a writer?

In order of importance: story, story, story then the unforgettable characters will follow.


6.  Do you think there are writers today who can match up with guys like James Lee Burke, Raymond Chandler (if you like Chandler), or a Dashiell Hammitt?

Only about 500 or so. Mike Connelly comes right to mind, as do Josh Stallings, Richard Godwin, Nigel Bird, Ian Ayris, Ian Rankin, Julie Lewthwaith, McDroll, All the Brit Gritters, Johnny Shaw, William Gibson, BR Stateham . . . want me to go on? Only another thousand or so to go.

7.  Is there such a thing as a 'perfect' novel? In your opinion, has it been written? And by whom?

Sure. About two million BC. The first time Ug the caveman and his clan gathered around the fire and Ug grunted out the tales of the hunt that day: the close calls; the snap of the sabertooth's teeth; the triumphant cries when the hunters brought down the wildebeest.
Of the modern novels (anything after Two million BC) The very first book the jumped out of my head was: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Examines all the conditions of the human mind and heart through the eyes of what Joe Campbell calls the Holy Fool. A perfect novel? Yeah.

8.  What are you currently writing?  And are your fans going to acquire a dark, meditative noir novel from you any time soon?

Yeah, I've got a couple of titles running around in my head. That's usually the start of it, a title. That's the way my subconscious yells out "Hey Look Stupid! I Got Sumptin' For Ya."
Got a friend a very good writer who writes down every single ass kicker first line that comes into his mind during the week and puts them on the reefer door for future reference and use. But that's the way his subconscious works. Mine only gives me titles -- the jerk.
No, no novel. Maybe someday. Gonna have to have the approval of my asshole subconscious to get that started. So far though all it gives me is, someday.


  1. Wonderful interview with one terrific writer! I'm a big, big fan of Mr. Hayes. And of you, BR.

  2. AJ Hayes is a fine writer, a writer without a trace of self-indulgence who graces the net. He is also a champion of other writers, a well read, passionate man with roots. And it is the fact that he knows his roots both literary and personal, as exemplified here, that he is a rare person. I am honoured to count him a friend.

  3. Fantastic interview. AJ is a great guy. Should his meandering subconscious lead him outside the indie crime scene, it will be worse for it.

  4. BR, Les, Richard and Ben: Thanks for the props. You all know how highly you rate with me. I think I'm stuck, subconscious and all, in indie crime until I get it right.

  5. Nice to see AJ get some play. Great guy, great supporter of the dark writes. Thanks for a cool interview.

  6. He is indeed a good man, Chris Nice to call him a friend.

  7. Thanks guys, you all know how highly I regard your works. Compliments from a group of your caliber makes it all worthwhile. BR, ole buddy, thank you for asking questions that made me think -- painful as that was.

  8. Lovely to learn more about AJ. I hope he and his subconscious work it out and "someday" comes sooner.