Interview with Bull Garlington

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I just started so here's what attracted me: the readers. They are voracious, ceaseless, courageous readers who consume books as if they are the air they breathe. Secondly, the ease of publication and the breadth of the reach on other platforms; Smashwords automatically sets me up for so many platforms. I could do all that in INDesign and spend 50 hours working on a story--or just upload it to Smashwords in 10 minutes and go have a martini.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Every fucking thing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am fascinated with how we interact with the benefits and effects of technology–especially AI and virtual realities. I'm also fascinated with the world represented by classic Hollywood movies, a world I grew up with. I thought I was going to live like Tony Curtis's single man; I thought I'd travel to Tangiers; I thought I'd wear a trench coat.
When did you first start writing?
1971. I was in first grade. I rewrote a skit from the Art Linkletter show.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After having two books traditionally published, I was happy with all of the results except one: I was not reaching enough people. For me, I am more interested in building an audience right now than I am getting paid. My traditional publisher gave me a great contract---a 50/50 deal. But all the work I'm doing to market my traditional books and stories benefits myself and the publisher. If my publisher delivered a giant audience and marketing clout, I'd be really happy about it. But, despite my publisher's undying appreciation and respect for my work, she doesn't have the reach I'm looking for. I'd rather do all the work for myself and give the stories away.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
You know that thing that happens when you read and you disappear? That happens when I write.
Who are your favorite authors?
Michael Ondaatje; T.C Boyle; Elmore Leonard; Christopher Moore; Harlan Ellison; Ray Bradbury; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Octavio Paz; Thornton Wilder; Harry Crews; China Mielville . . . oh I give up. All of them.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Drinking, cooking, smoking Hoya de Nicaragua cigars, listening to music, obsessing on old movies, hanging out with my brothers, traveling.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I judge every book by its cover.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I can't remember what I called it, but I was inspired by a skit on the Art Linkletter show in 1971. I was 5. It was the Menomena song, sung by alien puppets (the Muppets recaptured this skit later). I fell on the floor laughing. It was so damn stupid. So I rewrote the skit and it included a red Camaro and some other weirdness I don't entirely recall. My mother was floored by it since she didn't know I could read and write . . .
What is your writing process?
1) Sit down to write;
2) Disappear.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the first story I ever read. I know I was really into Conan, Doc Savage, and Tarzan at a very early age. But I was also into Erma Bombeck.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to pull an image from the story that is intangible but representative. I don't try to be literal. I try to be conceptual--I like to skim the literal.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) The Eye of the Heart—A collection of South American magical realism that includes two of the greatest short stories ever: "My Life with the Wave," by Octavio Paz, and "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. All the stories in this collection are mind altering, life threatening stories. They will warp the way you approach a story—thankfully.

2) Love in the Time of Cholera —It just ruins me. So magical, so lyrical, so real. I was abducted by the story, absorbed by it, unable to stop reading. I fell in love with this book.

3) If the River was Whiskey—T.C. Boyle is an American Magical Realist. His stories are both simple, in the sense that they portray events that unfold in an entirely natural, entirely logical way, but are fucking maniacal and batshit crazy at the same time. His stories can make me feel guilty. He's so good. "Sorry Fugu," is a dead solid piece of work. SO good.

4) The Gods of Mars—There's not a week goes by that I'm not reminded of this book. The hypnotic quality, the perfect storytelling—it got into me. I never got over the deep desire for the heroic journey this book instilled into me. It built an internal world I still reside in.

5) The Place of Dead Roads—A book that is impossible to explain. It contains all the heroic qualities but naked and upside down. A book that eviscerates your understanding of what a novel is.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm reading a lot of books about language right now, including Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson. I've got some Steven Pinker in the chute, ready for me to finish the other one. I"m reading the new T.C. Boyle collection. I just read the newest Christopher Moore. I wait on pins and needles all year for the next Jim Butcher novel. A World Lit Only by Fire and books like it, books about daily life in medieval days fascinate me. I'm looking for a good version of St. Bede the Venerable's work. I'm literally cleaning my basement bar (filled with books) for my copy of Les Mysteries des Cathedrales which I can't find and that bothers me because a good copy online is going for $200 bucks and I really need to read the language portion.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Getting gigs for corporate events is good because you get a fee and they buy books for attendees.
Describe your desk
I have three.

1) A piece of crap desk that came with our second house, that I love because I don't have to worry about scarring it. It is 'organized' the way I like it, with the walls very close and covered with scraps of paper, pictures, found treasures, and things like the walls of a cray person.

2) An Easy Chair in my living room with a foot rest I can raise and lower with the touch of a button, in front of a 70 inch flatscreen. I put on old movies or stupid, stupid, stupid shows like Ancient Aliens and River Monsters (both of which I adore).

3) The big table at the Cigar King. They have leather chairs, wifi, coffee, cigars, and a secret Scotch stash. What more can a man ask for? I lock my headphones one and work.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Rural Alabama and rural Florida. I spent a lot of time lost in the swamp. There's magic and weirdness there which I found out about very early. I also ate well and lived among two sprawling families who can't order a cup of coffee without telling a story. Story is how I lived.
What are you working on next?
I'm exploring the world I've built in Broad Daylight, the virtual world of Hollywood Noir.
Published 2014-11-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Lucky Jim
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King of the Road
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A trucker lies dying. A soul goes riding. Someone sings amazing grace.
Stingy Brim Trilby
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(4.00 from 1 review)
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Price: Free! Words: 980. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.00 from 1 review)
You see it, but is it there? Or you don't see it and it is. Do you see people making love in the ice in the whisky glass? Is that someone reaching over your shoulder? And if that isn't real, well, what is?
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Every Song's About Death
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A priest smokes a cigarette, sees a girl, and experiences a moment of hideous regret.
Many Boats on the Night Ocean
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A cruise ship, then a fishing boat, then pirates, then a submarine, then a viking ship, then a submarine, then a fishing boat, then pirates, then a cruise ship, then a written page.
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A man goes to Spain, smokes a cigarette, and stands his ground.