Peter Farris is a graduate of Yale University. He lives in Cobb County, Georgia. Last Call for the Living is his first published novel.
Lou Pendergrast: Welcome Peter Farris and congratulations on your great debut of The last call for the living. How did the idea for this story come about? Peter Farris: I actually remember quite vividly the moment that inspired Last Call for the Living. I was working in a bank about nine years ago when it was robbed. Thankfully the robbery didn’t turn violent, but it was an exhilarating experience to say the least. When I got serious about writing fiction, I knew I wanted to write a novel about a bank heist.
Lou Pendergrast: What was you looking to with this story?
Peter Farris: I wrote the novel intuitively, no outline or game plan…only a few images burned into my mind that needed explaining. When I finished the novel I realized it was a tragedy above anything else.
Lou Pendergrast: Why did you use certain characters?
Peter Farris: I knew from the opening pages that the bank teller and robber would be intrinsically linked and the focus of the novel. The other characters came to me as I addressed practical concerns about the story.
Lou Pendergrast: I read in your bio you went to Yale. They have some great videos of lectures on American Classics in literature. Which were your favorites, in your studies?
Peter Farris: Well, for the record, I only took one English class freshman year and I got a “C”…and I think the professor was being generous. But I do remember reading “Dubliners” by James Joyce and just falling in love with that collection. I wound up reading a lot of “literature” in my free time, Faulkner, Dickens, Thomas Wolfe and Jack London being a few writers that really struck a chord with me in my late teens and early twenties.
Lou Pendergrast:: Which writers and books have remained in your mind as an influence in your journey?
Peter Farris: Let’s just say I hope somebody puts a copy of Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” in my coffin. Another writer that turned my world upside down was Larry Brown. I knew after reading his novel “Father & Son” that you could write about the people around you, using simple, spare language and tell stories that could make a reader’s heart sink.
Lou Pendergrast: Where do you grasp your ideas from in this world?
Peter Farris: I’d like to give all the credit to my subconscious. I honestly have no idea. People fascinate me, however. We are sad, resilient, extremely entertaining creatures.
Lou Pendergrast: What hours of the day do you write?
Peter Farris: I’ve worked at all hours, and with a day job now, it’s hard to set a consistent schedule. My next novel was written over the course of nine months or so, mainly in the morning or early afternoons.
Lou Pendergrast: I am slightly late in discovering the recently deceased writer Harry Crews. If it wasn’t for you blog/website I would have never known of his death and his works thanks.
What does a writer like Harry Crews leave behind for you in this world?
Lou Pendergrast: Some have found the novel A feast of Snakes too much to handle I loved this original voice of his and his writing style. How did you find this story?
Peter Farris: “Feast of Snakes” was the first novel I read by Crews, and I read it at a very impressionable moment in my life. That novel showed me the possibilities, and emphasized the notion I didn’t have to travel very far when it came to where my fiction would be set. All I needed was right here in Georgia.
Lou Pendergrast: Many don’t like to read of the characters that Harry Crews and many writers mention but equally they become some of the more respected writers once learned of. Why does showing the characters and their obscure behavior patterns like Crews did and for example Jack Ketchum does provide captivating reading and sell?
Peter Farris: I suppose some folks are drawn to “large and startling figures” as Flannery O’Connor might say.
Lou Pendergrast: What are you working on now and when will we get another story from you?
Peter Farris: I turned in my next novel. It’s set in south Georgia and about a teenage prostitute.
Lou Pendergrast: Any writers and books you recommend as essential reading?
Peter Farris: Read James Crumley.
Lou Pendergrast: Thanks for this interview It has been great chatting with you!
Peter Farris: A pleasure, Lou! Thank you!
Read the review of this pick for best reads of 2012 Last Call For The Living @ http://more2read.com/review/last-call-for-the-living-by-peter-farris/
“A wild, rocketing roller-coaster of a ride. Farris’s writing is reminiscent of Stephen Hunter and Cormac McCarthy at their brutal best.”—Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author of Impact
“With Last Call for the Living, Peter Farris sticks a shotgun in your face, cracks you a beer, works you over with a meat tenderizer, insults your mama, punches your junk, and otherwise gives you the wildest Southern vacation you’ve ever had. Farris has just announced himself as a major new talent in crime fiction, and he ain’t telling us politely.”—Duane Swierczynski, Anthony Award–winning author of Fun & Games
“Last Call for the Living left blisters on my eyelids and teeth marks on my soul. Combining razor sharp prose, a tight plot and characters I could relate to, the narrative tension bites down and doesn’t let go.”—Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana
“This novel comes at you like an abusive parent, succors you like a mother, smacks you down like a bully, then helps you back up to see the light like a blood brother—but one cranked on meth, steeped in whiskey, and gunned-up for a final showdown. Last Call for the Living is a debut novel with true regret in its heart, and a poignant sadness at the implacability of fate. It is probably the most ballistic family values story you’ll ever read.”—David J. Schow, author of Gun Work