I recently pretended to sit down with good friend and acclaimed crime writer Preston Lang to talk about a few things. We covered the emotional intelligence of peanut eaters, the role of fire hydrants in the government’s summer emergency plans, and the collected work of Franklin W. Dixon, among other things.
Skipping the small talk and heading straight to it:
BE—You’ve published two novels. Why?
PL—Yeah, it does seem hard to defend the decision at times. I like to think they get out there into the world and people read and enjoy them.
That’s really all I can hope for, because my books aren’t particularly educational and they don’t exactly expand the boundaries of what a novel can do or anything like that. There might be a hidden agenda in my writing. If so, I’d love to hear about it.
BE—Sure, no hidden agenda, but still very fun, very entertaining to read. I thought The Carrier’s finest asset was its various shades of low-key humor, deadpan delivery, and bizarre juxtaposition. I liked the contents of sex offender Danny Chin’s apartment for example: “…Other than a clarinet and a red cape there was nothing that really indicated this was the residence of a pervert.” You should give yourself a little more credit.
PL—Fair enough. Next question?
BE—I understand you’re a talented pianist. So which gives you greater satisfaction: music or writing?
PL— I don’t play as much as I once did, so it’s pretty much writing at this point.
BE—Why is that?
PL—I’ve got issues with neighbors, and my fingers have become thick and oddly shaped.
BE—That’s troubling. I heard something this week about people aging at different speeds. Maybe they also age in different body parts. I wonder if your thickening fingers is part of the natural aging process for you. Or maybe its a factor of diet. What’s your favorite low-fat food?
PL—I like peanuts a lot. They’re a very important part of my life. Are they low in fat?
BE—No, not at all. They’re high fat, but it’s the good kind. I say that because peanuts are natural.
PL—I once read that there’s a sharp divide between people who like peanuts and people who like pecans. The pecan people are arrogant, disingenuous elitists. The peanut people are decent, emotional, but a bit cryptic.
There are more of us Peanuts, but the Pecans are wealthier and better supplied. When it all goes down, choose your side wisely.
BE—Sometimes I add crushed pecans to our Saturday morning pancakes, but I prefer and more often use walnuts. Never peanuts. I do eat a lot of peanut butter, though. Tell me more about what you’re working on. When are you going to write a book about cigarettes?