He’s a good guy, Daniel Woodrell. Understated, funny, with no affectations. The kind of quietly spoken that comes with carrying a big stick - or in his case, a big, big talent. I liked him a lot. And then, last week, after the interview finally appeared in the Irish Times, I received an email from him to say thanks, he liked the piece. A classy touch, and a pleasant surprise, but not really surprising, if you follow my drift.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from said Irish Times interview:
Despite announcing his ambition to be an author as early as the third grade, Woodrell turned his back on writing in his teens. “I dropped out of school when I was 16, when I gave up on the idea of being a writer, but I came back to it when I was 21,” he says. “I thought, No, I’m gonna sink or swim. I’m going all-in, see if I can do this or not. Which was good. I needed something severely challenging that I was willing to give myself to. I’d run a little wild around then. But that’s what those years are for, right?” Yet another throaty laugh. “So long as you don’t get too long of a sentence, you’re alright.”For the rest, clickety-click here …
After a period in the Marines, Woodrell moved from the Ozarks to San Francisco and settled in to learn his craft. “As a high-school drop-out, I knew I wanted to write, but I wasn’t overly confident that I was going to be writing anything serious. I was happy enough with the idea that I could be a penny-a-word guy and survive.”
At that point he wanted to write about anything – or any place – that wasn’t home. “Well, I was trying to survive as a writer and I knew that the nation in general doesn’t care about what happens in the Ozarks. I mean, I don’t want to be callous about it, but we all seemed to get over the Oklahoma bombing pretty quickly, and we’re never going to get over 9/11. Y’know? And so all of us out there are aware that you have to really be into writing about it, because there’s no advantage to it.”