George Pelecanos: “Do you want to draw attention to yourself or let the story and the characters take over?”

Either you want to tell a story or you don’t. Do you want to draw attention to yourself and your own writing and your beautiful style or do you want to be invisible and let the story and the characters take over for the reader. That’s what it comes down to for me.

What comes into it with crime is just conflicts. I like conflict in any kind of popular art. There is no greater conflict than life versus death, so there it is. I’m not that interested in the crime aspect of my books. I am interested in the characters.

—Author George Pelecanos on writing in the Writer’s Almanac.
Also see this Washingtonian interview headlined “Why George Pelecanos stays in Silver Spring”:

Bestselling crime novelist George Pelecanos has written 20 books and counting (Hell to Pay, Hard Revolution, The Big Blowdown), wrote and produced the HBO series The Wire, and picked up an Emmy nomination along the way. But he hasn’t fled to New York. Born in Mount Pleasant, he moved to Silver Spring by the time he was in kindergarten, and it’s where he chose to raise his own family. In this conversation, he recalls the very different Silver Spring of his teen years and why the suburb remains the only place he wants to call home.

How did your experiences growing up here lead you to become a fiction writer?

The Biblical moment was the 1968 riots. I was 11 years old and I didn’t understand everything, but I knew at a visceral level that something momentous was happening. My dad had a diner [in Dupont Circle], and I would take a bus down Georgia Avenue. Right after the riots that summer, I remember being on the bus with black Washingtonians who—they just looked different to me. They were standing straighter, clothes were a little bit louder. All these things hit me all at once, and I wanted to find out more about it and to write about it.

You eventually did write about it.

Hard Revolution—that’s the book about the ’68 riots. But I never read books when I was growing up. I was doing what teenagers did in the ’70s, which was smoking weed, drinking beer, playing basketball, muscle cars. I wasn’t a bookish person. . . .

Speak Your Mind