Next up in the Interrogation Room, Tom Leins talks to S.A. Cosby to discuss his new book Blacktop Wasteland, which has already earned plaudits from the likes of Lee Child, Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley!
Firstly, congratulations on the upcoming publication of Blacktop Wasteland! How would you pitch the book to potential readers?
It’s Hell or Highwater meets Drive but with black people from the South.
What do you hope that readers take away from the story?
I hope that people will get a glimpse into a world they don’t often see. Black Rural America. That they might gain an understanding of how hard it is to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps when you don’t have any boots.
The title – and the excellent cover – conjure up a ‘70s vibe. Do you have a favourite era for crime fiction?
I’m a child of the ‘80s, but I grew up on ‘60s and ‘70s era crime fiction. The work of Donald Goines, early Elmore Leonard, books likes The Friends of Eddie Coyle or movies like Cotton Comes to Harlem shaped my sensibilities. There is an undeniable grittiness and sense of place that is unique to the time period that I just love.
It seems like you’ve had an incredible couple of years – with a lot more excitement in the pipeline. What has been your personal highlight to date?
I think winning the Anthony Award. It’s voted on by both writers and fans and it felt like such a moment of validation. I’m a poor kid from the low country of Virginia. A college dropout who grew up in a trailer and there I was holding aloft an award that had previously been won by my writing heroes. For all time when someone mentions the Anthony Awards they can talk about Dennis Lehane, Barbara Neely and me… ha, ha!
Since the news of the movie option dropped recently, how much thought have you given to actor/director wish-lists?
Oh man, when I was writing the book, I had certain actors and directors in mind. My dream cast is either Winston Duke or John David Washington as Bug, Timothy Olyphant as Ronnie and F. Gary Gray as the director…
You have been blurbed by some excellent authors – which one would you most like to sit down and have a drink with?
Wow, way to put me on the spot (ha, ha!). I mean they are all great and I’m blown away by all their kind words. I can’t narrow it down to just one so I’ll say Walter Mosley and Dennis Lehane so we can drink Old Fashioneds and talk about narrative structure. Or what’s our favourite way to beat up on bad guys.
For your money, which writers (mainstream or independent) are doing the most interesting work in contemporary crime fiction?
There are so many great crime authors putting out really interesting and bold crime fiction these days. For my money the ones that have blown me away are Eryk Pruitt, Kelly J. Ford, Kellye Garrett, John Vercher, Jake Hinson, Angel Luis Colon and Jennifer Hillier. I’m in awe of all of them and the way they are taking the genre into new and intriguing places.
If your career trajectory could follow that of any writer, who would you pick, and why?
I mentioned him already, but I’d love if my career had one-tenth of the longevity of Walter Mosley’s.
Looking ahead, can you share details of any upcoming projects?
I just finished the first draft of my next crime novel tentatively titled RAZORBLADE TEARS. I call it The Defiant Ones meets Rolling Thunder.
Finally, if you could go back – to when you first started getting your work in front of people – and give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be?
Write fearlessly. Stand up for your vision. Don’t spend so much money on cheap liquor.
S.A. Cosby is an award-winning writer from South-eastern Virginia. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including THUGLIT, TOUGH, The Faking of the President, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and many others. His first rural noir crime novel MY DARKEST PRAYER was published in 2019 by INTRIGUE PUBLISHING. He was awarded the Anthony for Best Short Story at the 50th Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. His latest novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND comes out July 14th of this year from FLATIRON BOOOKS.
You can follow him @blacklionking73 on Twitter or at S.A. Cosby Author on Facebook