Q&A with author Stephen Hazlett


A warm welcome to author Stephen Hazlett.
Name one book that made you think 'wow'? Why did it have such an effect on you?
It would have to be “From Here to Eternity,” by James Jones. I was a young, 14, and was already a writer without realizing it. I’d always enjoyed my writing assignments at school: English composition, writing essays and such. I’d also done a lot of reading, but nothing very profound. Then I read “Eternity,” and it changed how I looked at books. Jones wrote profoundly of the love one young man can feel for something, an idea or an ideal, even though it might abuse and revile him and eventually kill him, which it did. That fictional character was Robert E Lee Prewitt. He is still, these many years later, my favorite character in fiction.

Who is your favorite author and why?
That’s kind of a hard one, because there are several. If he were still alive I might say John Updike. It might be Philip Roth, whose books I’ve enjoyed for years. But if I have to pick just one it would be Cormac McCarthy for the beauty of his prose, the mesmerizing way its deceiving simplicity draws you into his stories, and his moral view of the world. Whenever I read a book by him I think, “Why can’t I write like that?”

Name one of your all-time favorite book covers?
Another tough one. Of course, there are my own covers. Among them I’d have to choose “A Private War,” because it’s one I designed entirely by myself. Of other authors, it would a toss-up between “From Here to Eternity,” and “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien.

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
I’d have to start with two of my all-time favorites: James Jones and John Updike. I don’t know what I’d say to them, but I’d probably be wearing a sappy grin, saying, “Gee, you guys were good.” After them, I think James Joyce. I’d ask him, “How did you come up with all that stuff out of whole cloth?” And “What is ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ really about?” And then Hemingway because I’ve always admired his unique style. I’d throw in Shakespeare, just because.

Who, or what, inspires you?
I’m inspired by stories I feel I need to tell, such as love that a man feels for a woman, so strong that he could never believe, against all evidence, she could be capable of doing wrong. Stories of redemption, of dysfunctional families brought together by an event or the will of one of it members. Or mysteries to be solved. Or the kick I get when the writing turns out just right, something I think is really good. You’ll have to read my books to see which of the above fits with which book.

Where is your favorite place to write? I always write in my office, sitting in front of my desktop computer. I use MSWord and do lots and lots or revising. Hemingway, so I’ve read, was a great one for revision after revision, so we have that in common, if nothing else. But I think: how difficult it must have been to write in the days before word processors. Typewriters would be bad enough, but imagine quill pens! God bless the word processor.

What is your favourite film that was based on a book? Another toughie. Too many come to mind, so I’ll just say, Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men,” maybe for no other reason that it was recent and fresher in my mind. It was a terrific, though dark, tale that said something profound about the human condition. The movie was also very faithful to the book, which seems to be a rarity.

What is your book about? 
“A Private War” tells the story of Thomas Kindred, a young soldier in Vietnam in 1968. Disillusioned by the whole experience, he deserts from the Army and makes his way home under forged orders. Thirty years later, he’s living in Vancouver, Canada, his past seemingly forgotten. Then he receives a surprise call from, Rick Goody, one of his former Army buddies and a Vietnam deserter as well. Rick believes his life is in danger from the militant, anti-war group he joined after leaving Vietnam. Now he’s on the run, and he asks Thomas for his help. Thomas, with a renewed sense of his old fugitive self, enters the U.S. for the first time in years. 
Complicating matters, Thomas's girlfriend, Carmen, has a reawakening of her own hidden past, brought about by the events that followed Rick Goody's plea. She too disappears into the lower 48. Thomas now has a new purpose: to find Carmen or face a life without her.
His search leads to what he never expected. On a cross-country trek, he rediscovers the country he left behind thirty years before. He becomes involved in a dangerous mission with the same anti-war group that had Rick running for his life. And finally, Thomas finds a resolution to his own private war.

If your book were made into a film, who would you like to play the main characters?
The book’s central character is shown in two different eras, thirty years apart. I’d like to say George Clooney, one of my favorite actors, but sadly, he’s too old to play the young Thomas Kindred. Emile Hirsh would be the right age, but I don’t think he could play the older version. So what the heck, I’ll go for the young Thomas being played by Leo DiCaprio. He’s a little old for the twenty-one year old Thomas, but they could make it work. And for the Thomas of thirty years later, just age Leo enough to make him believable. Aside from being a good actor, he’d still look good. 
The other major character is Carmen, who is Kindred’s girlfriend. She’s in her late thirties, so that leaves out Meryl Streep, my favorite actress. Susan Sarandon? Geena Davis? Nice, but again too old. So how about Salma Hyack? Sexy enough? 

Tell us a random fact about yourself. I’m a sucker for a pretty face, especially if she’s young. No big surprise: most men are attracted to pretty young women. Nature’s attempt at keeping the species going.

Tell us something interesting about the area where you live. The Albuquerque area has great natural beauty—also hiking and biking—a short drive away in the Sandia Mountains. Santa Fe is close enough (60 miles) for a quick day trip.

Winter or summer? Fuhgeddaboudit. I like Spring and Fall
Ebook or paperback? Both
Favourite food? Italian, maybe Mexican
Sporty or couch potato? Both at varying times
Cook or be cooked for? Cooked for
Link to your website: http://stephenhazlett.yolasite.com

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