by Becci Noblit Goodall

Silverthought associate editor Becci Noblit Goodall interviews David LaBounty, author of Affluenza.

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N O W   A V A I L A B L E :

by David LaBounty

Publisher: Offense Mechanisms, an imprint of Silverthought Press
148 pages
$9.99 + S/H
[click for details]


I N T E R V I E W :

Editor's Note: This interview may contain spoilers.

Becci Noblit Goodall: Dave, you’ve gone and you’ve slammed us with your best work yet! Let me just say that this is phenomenal. Brave. Sickening. Nauseating. Hysterical. Methodical. Lyrical. Fan-fucking-tastic!

So I’ve gotta ask you... First of all, did you let your wife and your mom read this, and at what point will you allow your kids to read this? And if you did, I’m interested to know your wife’s reaction to the darkness your main character directs finally towards his wife in particular.

It was like the death of my wife and children was worth it, worth the reward of sleeping in for three weeks.

I ask this because you bravely went to that darkest of places, and to do so you had to allow yourself to be honest with some thoughts you may have had… thoughts we’ve all had at points during our American struggle to survive and keep up. How difficult was it for you to be honest about these things in your writing?

David LaBounty: My wife is reading this now and still talking to me. I'm not worried about her reaction. I told her it was very disturbing and she knows it's fiction and that I was trying to make certain points, how a lust for consumption can destroy a lot of things, has destroyed a lot of things, and she gets that. That line about the death of Dash's wife and children was actually based on something I overheard from a vague relative years ago—an older gentleman lost his wife, they were both in their seventies, and he said he could go ahead and get a new set of golf clubs now, since his wife wasn't around to tell him no.

My mom will read it too, if she hasn't already. My sons? I don't know. Because of the content I would say I would like them to be in high school before they read it, but I am sure they will understand what I was trying to do. They are my sons, after all. They do know about the book, of course, and I tell them I wrote about a bad guy, about a guy who does bad things. They read and have to understand setting and plot for school. I told them most books have a hero of some sort for the main character. I decided to go a different way for this particular book.

BNG: The gross-nasty-evil of this character was unflinching. I couldn’t find one instance in this piece where you gave reader a glimpse of a sympathetic character. Why did you make this choice? I ask this because I can’t think of many writers who allow their characters to be truly evil without at least giving us a reason why.

Were you ever tempted to make him likeable at points?

DL: I think I used Dash's relationship with his father to explain why he was so unlikable, so materialistic. His father wasn't nurturing at all and basically said the best things in life were things that you could buy. I was never tempted to make Charles Dash likable. I wanted him to be recognizable, however, how certain thoughts of his could mirror your own or someone you know.

BN: I want to say that I admire the way you stuck to the greedy-greasiness of Chaz. It’s horrific. It works. I loved it!

At first I thought this book was a take on Fight Club or American Beauty, and in a way I see those influences in your work. What are your thoughts on this?

DL: I think you mean American Psycho... I never thought about Fight Club comparisons, but American Psycho I can understand. I was worried about that. Again, a protagonist that is impossible to like. I guess the difference between Patrick Bateman and Charles Dash is motivation. Dash has a reason for his killings, to fight a war against the banks for allowing him to get so deep in debt. Bateman is a brilliant serial killer, someone who is insane.

Affluenza certainly wouldn't exist without the work of Palahniuk, Ellis, Selby, Bukowski and others. I never would have had the nerve to blaze that transgressive trail myself.

BN: Having said that, Affluenza is nothing like Fight Club or American Beauty; Chaz isn’t attractive or cool or Hollywood-like in any way. If you were to cast him in a movie version of your book, can you think of who you’d like to play Chaz?

DL: Never thought about it. I couldn't picture Dash on the big screen. I pictured him in my mind, of course, but that image doesn't translate to any actor I can think of.

BN: How fun and twisted was it for you to come up with all of the nastiness that goes on in the second half of Affluenza? Just when I thought Chaz couldn’t become more depraved, he did!

DL: Fun? I don't know if it was fun or not. I certainly didn't hold back. I think if you try to temper depravity as a writer, it comes off as fradulent. I would say I would have a hard time reading Affluenza for myself. Or watching it as a film. The cringe factor isn't nearly as intense when it's your own creation. Anything where children are harmed disturbs me as a reader or viewer.

BN: Finally, I want to say that I noticed a certain rhythm in this work that I don’t remember seeing elsewhere.

Maybe you like yourself.
Maybe you don’t.

A cycle of creation.
A cycle of destruction.

Can you speak a bit to how your poetic writing may have played a part in this stylistic choice?

DL: I think my fiction influences my poetry too. I've been accused (and rightfully so) of writing poems that are nothing more than stories with line breaks and stanzas. I think I generally write the same way all the time, and don't really consider myself a poet, say, or a novelist, just a writer who writes poetry and fiction. It all just depends.

BN: It’s been great to read your stuff again and reconnect! What’s going on now in that warped head of yours?

DL: My head isn't warped, no more than anyone else's I know. I'm still writing all the time, but I don't think I will ever write anything like Affluenza again, which was nothing more than a reaction to our current economic situation, how it was brought on by so many people being in debt, how we have this huge industry in our country of buying and selling debt, an industry that produces absolutely nothing. I don't know if I will be moved to write on something topical like that again. We will have to wait and see what the culture brings us.

Thanks for the questions and taking the time to read my work. I really do appreciate it, and I would like to thank Paul Hughes of Silverthought Press for sticking his neck out to get this book edited and published. I've heard nothing but praise about this book from readers (wish there were more, certainly), how it's the best book I've written and that credit has to go to Paul as much as me. I owe Paul a lot of gratitude.



Copyright © 2009 Becci Noblit Goodall

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Becci Noblit Goodall is an Associate Editor of Silverthought.

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