An Interview with TC Boyle

photo of author TC Boyle
Image by Jamieson Fry, © 2013

Catching up with TC Boyle before His Award at the LA Times Festival of Books

If you’ve ever wanted to hear this blogger giggle like a schoolgirl, look no further than this interview with PEN/Faulkner award-winner TC Boyle. He’s the author of 24 books and countless stories, and his works have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

The Harder They Come book coverBoyle is in California for this year’s LA Times Festival of Books, where he will be honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement. I’ve attended the festival myself in years past, so I can tell you it’s huge: more than 150,000 people convene over 500 authors, celebrities, musicians, artists and chefs. In fact it’s the largest literary and cultural festival in America.

Boyle’s most recent book The Harder They Come is an exploration of American violence. In the interview we talk about writing without a map of the plot. He often works with an epigraph to guide the story, and in this novel his muse was D. H. Lawrence, with this epigraph: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer. It has never yet melted.” Is that true? The Harder They Come seeks the answer by exploring the acts of violence committed by a liberal Vietnam vet and his mentally-unstable survivalist son.

TC Boyle took some time out of his busy touring schedule to sit down on a park bench in Santa Barbara and answer a few of my questions. He spoke of his writing and editing process, the dangers of political writing, how he researches his historical fiction, and more. I mostly giggled.

The LA Times Festival of Books is free to the public and will be held this year on Saturday and Sunday, April 18th and 19th at the University of Southern California (USC). In addition to the award honoring TC Boyle, there will be more than 100 Conversations on topics ranging from race and social justice to the environment, from privacy and media to how books make the leap from page to screen. This year is the 20th anniversary of the celebration.