1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?
The novels of Larry McMurtry have been a huge influence on me. McMurtry was born in Archer City, Texas, and I must have passed through Archer City a thousand times over the years, going back and forth to my grandparents’ house in Wichita Falls in the back seat of my dad’s old Chevy. I picked up Lonesome Dove on the recommendation of my high-school English teacher, and my paperback copy disintegrated a long time ago from re-reading. McMurtry’s cowboys aren’t stainless heroes–they’re low characters, for the most part, but they are capable of great things when the need arises.
Lonesome Dove and its sequels made McMurtry’s reputation, but my favorite of his novels is a little-known gem called Some Can Whistle, about a depressive Texan sitcom writer living in a giant house on the outskirts of Wichita Falls and slowly deteriorating. He is forced into reconnecting to the world around him when his estranged daughter calls him out of the blue one fine day. (I would later steal this scene for the first chapter of my debut novel, Rain on Your Wedding Day.) Some Can Whistle is about what McMurtry calls the “war of life,” and it’s a war with significant casualties.
My reading tastes tend to go in several different directions at once. I will go through phases where I’m reading a lot of genre fiction; I’m in one of those now. I started reading the Lois McMaster Bujold sci-fi Vorkosigan novels last year, and I speed-read through Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files last summer. I will probably circle back to historical fiction at some point (there’s a new Bernard Cromwell book coming out this fall) and if I ever get some extra bonus reading time, maybe some real history. (I have had the book by Winston Groom about Vicksburg sitting on my nightstand for at least a year and a half and haven’t picked it up, for which I am embarrassed.)
2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?
I am a Texan, and a conservative largely because conservatism aligns with Texas values – strength, independence, faith, and courage. America is still a strong country, and still independent–but it’s clear that faith is on the decline, and (at least in a political sense) so is courage.That’s what drew me, ideologically, to Phil Gramm, who left the Democratic Party, resigned from the House, and ran again as a Republican and won under the slogan, “Common Sense, Uncommon Courage.”
When I was in college, I was lucky enough to intern for Senator Gramm, in his Dallas office. I went back to work for him for a semester in law school, and once I got out of law school I went to work for Senator Gramm full-time. I was working in his office during his disastrous 1996 Presidential campaign, and I think the Republic is much worse off for Phil Gramm never having been President.
I’ve attached a video where Senator Gramm spoke recently to the Texas Public Policy Foundation — it’s a bit long, but it’s worth your time to hear it. Senator Gramm says that courage is contagious, and I wish that were more true than it appears to be these days. Anyway, take a listen and ask yourself what might have happened if, say, Mitt Romney had the courage to say some of the things that Senator Gramm says here about Obamacare.
3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?
When I was more involved and interested in politics than I am now, I used to watch The McLaughlin Group, mostly because it was on TV right before the NFL pregame shows started. (McLaughlin is now 87, and still doing the show, and good for him.) You could watch a solid week of The McLaughlin Group from pretty much any era and not find a single original thought. That’s not a criticism, really. What commentators do is mostly entertainment. Thinking would ruin it.
So what I try to do is focus on commentators who at least try to think. Glenn Reynolds is a must-read for me every day, as he is for so many people. Sean Trende combines analytics with analysis in a way that I’d like to see more of in conservative opinion pieces. And I always try to read Ramesh Ponnuru, because I met him once at a bar in Washington, and he’d had a few too many beers, and I ended up driving him home, and he was nice enough not to throw up in my car. True story.
4. What are your writing goals?
This is going to sound weird, and I can’t help that, but my main goal as a writer is modesty. This does not, granted, sound like a very high goal, until you consider that the default setting for most self-published authors is obscurity. Modesty is something of a step up from that.
I’ve got a new novel coming out today, called Wreathed, and it’s funny and sharp and you should read it. But I am not going to tell you that it’s going to revolutionize world literature, or that it’s going to vault me to literary celebrity, because neither of these things are true. I am hopeful that people find it and read it, but the only recognition I am probably going to get is if my wife’s uncle says something nice about it at Passover next year.
You have to promote yourself as a self-published author, because no one will do it for you. “He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted,” Damon Runyan said, and he was right. But it’s important not to lose sight of what your place is in the publishing universe, which is sort of like serfdom, without all the manual labor and disfiguring facial growths. It’s important to keep things in perspective.
5. Where can people find/follow you online?
I do Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/blueduck – and Twitter at @Curtis_Edmonds – please take note of the underscore, because if you leave it out you get some cross-eyed slacker in rural Michigan who has the same name as me. All my short fiction and book reviews are collected at my non-award-winning website, curtisedmonds.com.
6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?
I am the world’s leading expert on such diverse topics as depressing country songs, peach cobbler, PowerPoint, and what to do when you find out your wife is going to have twins.
Also Check Out “Making A Difference: The Diary of Justin Trudeau-Fairchild, Intern” about an overly idealistic and naive liberal intern. Week One is here.