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Louise Steinman:Welcome. Welcome to part 2. You may have not seen part 1, but you're going to be active participants in part 2 of Tales From Two Cities. Writing from California, a free 2-day conference, which were starting tonight. I'm Louise Steinman, the Program Director for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. And on behalf of the Library Foundation, I'm delighted to welcome you here tonight. This 2-day conference at the Downtown Central Library is going to spotlight writers who help define Los Angeles as a place where the language, a culture, and an aesthetic all its own. Well, we'll see if thats true. And we hope that you'll be joining us for tomorrow and Saturday. It's going to be a fantastic 2 days. I would really like to thank our partners in this very ambitious 3-day conference, David Ulin and William Deverell who helped curate this program, who conceived of it. I would like to thank the USC Huntington Institute on California and the West. Of course, I would like to thank fora.tv. You just saw they're realand fora.tv is going to be filming the entire conference and we encourage you to visit their writing from California page on fora.tv to watch videos from both the San Francisco and the Los Angeles portions of this conference. It will give you a sense of the whole breath of what were trying to do. And videos form this weekend will be available on fora.tv within 24 hours after each session concludes, which is pretty fantastic. And of course our perennial partnerfor the Library Foundation is the Los Angeles Public Library, and on behalf of the library, were very, very happy to have you here tonight and to welcome our distinguished speakers. Our format tonight will be conversation between Attica Locke and Walter Mosley. We will then open to you for questions and we will circulate microphones so that you can ask a question. Wait until they come to you as we do record all of these programs for podcast as well. And afterwards, both of our authors will be signing their books in the lobby courtesy of our library store. And also, if you want information on supporting the Los Angeles Public Library, speak to one of our staff members afterwards in the lobby and we can tell you more about the work of the Library Foundation. I know that both of our distinguished writers tonight are ardent supporters of the Los Angeles Public Library. Attica Locke, who is interviewing Walter Mosley tonight, serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Walter Mosley is a recipient of the LAPL Literary Award. And in the spring of 2011, receiving that award, Walter Mosley noted, Knowledge is not so much in quantity but in the quality of access. Not in a test score, but in a freely active mind and the concert of active minds that come together under one roof. That roof is the Los Angeles Public Library and it is the shining beacon for the hope we have of making it out of the cold. Amen, Walter. [Applause] Louise Steinman:A pretty stunning statement. Walter Mosley is the author of more than three dozen award-winning books ranging in genre from the crime novel to literary fiction, non-fiction, political essay, science fiction, young adult and erotic fiction. For those of you who are already fans, you can rejoice because there are 2 new Walter Mosley books to look forward to in the coming months. Debbie doesnt do it anymore. A novel about a black porn queen whos tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Will be released in a few months and the next easy mystery Rose Gold will be released in the fall. Mosleys novel, Devil In A Blue Dress, kicked off his series revolving around the iconic and immortal detective, Ezekiel Easy Rawlins, a resident of Watts in Los Angeles. Rawlins continuing story begins in 1948, and with the 2013 release of his 12th story, Little Green, has progressed to 1967 where we find him investigating the dark side of LAs 1960s Hippie Haven, the Sunset Strip. Mosleys Rawlins novel together form as David Ulin has noted, An extended social fiction as much Balzac and Raymond Chandler charting the life of Los Angeles and its overlapping layers of race and class, which makes him the perfect choice I think to open this conference. Among Mr. Mosleys many, many honors, he's the recipient of the PEN USAs Lifetime Achievement Award. Attica Locke worked as a screenwriter for many years and was a fellow at Sundance Institutes Feature Filmmakers Lab. As the New York Times rightly noted, Attica is A dazzling writer with a conscience or as Dennis Lehane noted, Id probably read the phonebook if her name was on the spine. Her first novel, Black Water Rising was nominated for an Edgar Award as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and her second book, The Cutting Season, is a stunning murder mystery set at a restored plantation on the Mississippi River where the past and the present uneasily coexist, where Getty brides and grooms exchange wedding vows and a troop of actors perform a scripted reenactment of the plantations role in the Civil War. The Cutting Season was recently awarded the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and recently, Attica wrote the introduction for the UK publication of Ernest Gainess classic book, A Lesson Before Dying. It is a great honor. Please join me in welcoming Walter Mosley and Attica Locke, the Los Angeles Public Library. Thank you. [Applause] Attica Locke:I guess were live huh? Walter Mosley:Yeah. I don't know. I guess, yes. Yes. Attica Locke:Well, okay. Mr. Mosley, we have been tasked with a broad array of things to talk about. Writing in and of California, race, noir, all of it, and I want to start with that last bit. This concept of what constitutes noir. So Isabel Allende gotten to a little bit of trouble. I dont know if you heard this last week where her latest novel, a mystery called Ripper. She said she wrote as a joke and that she does not read the genre or really have much respect for it, and there are a lot of mystery fans that went kind of crazy. Now, I have heard that you hate being called a mystery writer. And first, I'm curious if thats true. Walter Mosley:No. Attica Locke:No, not at all. And why do you think thats gotten out there that you Walter Mosley:Well, because I dont want to only be called a mystery writer. Like, you know, I remember once I was withI was in the library, New York Public Library and I was staying there with Tony Morrison and a woman that we both knew and then another woman walked up and I guess the other was like from Mars or Venus or something. So she saidmy friend says, Well, this is Tony Morrison, the novelist. You know, and said hello. And she goes, This is Walter Mosley, the mystery writer. And I said, I'm a novelist. And she went, Yes, mystery writer. And I went, No, novelist. Mystery writer. It was reallyit was so funny. She wouldnt like, I don't know. She wouldnt let it go. And so thats the thing, you know, the idea that, you know, I mean, I love writing it and all kinds of genres. I'm also a science fiction writer and a writer or erotica, writer of stories. I writeyou know, all kinds of stuff. Attica Locke:But that is the one that sticks. I mean, I've been Walter Mosley:Well, thats okay. You know, if you have a big butt, some people like it, you know. But that doesnt mean that thats you-- Attica Locke:It's a very loyal fan base. It's a very loyal-- Walter Mosley:No, no, no, it's true, you know? They like my butt, thats good, you know. It's good. I mean, you know, I dont mind. So yeah, man, I like that butt. Alright, fine. But I have a head and 2 arms and like, I can't just be a butt, you know. Attica Locke:Do you draw a distinction then between mystery and war? Would you consider those overlapping or 2 separate things? Walter Mosley:Noir is always kind of like a film term to me. You know what I mean? It's kind of the way the camera works, the way the shadow works, the way the mood is, and I suppose you can make noir music and noir novels. And those noir novels dont necessarily have to be mysteries, you know. They might be, you know, I mean, a woman planning to kill her husband. Attica Locke:I thinkkind of is being noir but not necessarily neatly fitting into the mystery. Walter Mosley:Yeah. I think so often. Sometimes it's crime, definitely crime, but yeah, there's mystery fiction, there's crime fiction, there's noir fiction, sometimes they're all 3 together, sometimes they're separate. You know, there's a thing that when you really get into it, you know, there are cozies, there's all kind of different writing. And you know, and a lot of people just want toyou know, in England they call it crime fiction, period. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:And thats nice. Attica Locke:Which I actually think is a better-- Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:--a better moniker for the genre. Walter Mosley:But the think of it, its too bad to, you know, see, I know that if you come from a certain, you know, background likewhos a wonderful writer but if she comes from a background where there's a hierarchy of literature, a thought of a hierarchy of literature. And so, you know, if somebody will call you a mystery writer youd be insulted, you know. But you know, we know that you can write really bad literary fiction. I have to just go in a bookstore and look at the new books and say, wow, this is really bad, you know. Who wrote this? What did the New York Times say? Damn. And then you read this mystery over here and say, God, this is really good. There's also a really good science fiction, almost nobody believes that. You know, Samuel Delany is one of the best writers in America. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:You know, but nobodys going to, you know, going to recognize that because thats bad fiction, you know. It's bad. Attica Locke:Yeah, it's theto constantly consistently label things but actually leads nicely into what I want to talk about next. So you are, you live in New York now, yeah? But everybody kind of considers you at least. I think a lot of people consider you an LA author. A man of Los Angeles, and frankly in my opinion, you have a life story that could only have happened in Los Angeles post-World War II, which isyou have a Jewish mother. The child of Russian immigrates and a black father from Louisiana. So are youhow comfortable are you talking to us about how your upbringing has deeply or not deeply affected the stories that you're telling? Walter Mosley:I'm completely comfortable. Is that the question? Attica Locke:That is the question. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Thats how I'm answering the first question if I'm comfortable. I said, I'm really comfortable here. Attica Locke:Comfortable, yes. Talk on it, brother. Talk on it. Walter Mosley:Let me stick my hand down my pants, you know, me and Al Bundy. Well, you know, and it's so interesting, you know, the other day, I was invited to a house with 11 other people, all of whom were biracial. The house is on 81st Street. Anybody knows like you know in New York as well is a house in 81st Street. One point, the lady, whos very nice, she said, Well, you know, I'm wealthy, you know. I live in Toronto but on weekends we took the family jet to Aruba. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:I said, wow the family jet, you know. We had a family dog. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:We couldnt get it to Aruba butand we were talking about being biracial, which I thought was kind of interesting. You know, I was very clear, you know. Like, people say, Well, how does it feel to be both white and black? I said, my fathers black and my mothers Jewish. There's no white in there. [Laughter] Attica Locke:I'm from Texas. I understand that because thats how they think in Texas. Walter Mosley:Definitely. I said Jew, it ain't no white. Attica Locke:Yeah, right. The catholic too, theyll give you some stuff on catholic. Walter Mosley:Catholics, you know. I mean, I said, like, dont you know you're European history? Dont you know you werent white over there? You know, but, you know, they forget that stuff, you know. Anyway, I feltsome people argued with me about that but I wouldnt listen. I said, you know, you have to shut up because it might turnbut there are people born in the 50s. I was the oldest person in the room. It was so upsetting to me. The 50s, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, there was-- Attica Locke:Born in the 90s? Walter Mosley:Yes. A 17-year-old girl was there and a boy who was 15. And reallyfor every generation or every decade after mine, people were more and more upset. Like, they were confused. Like, am I white? Am I black? Am I alive? Am I dead? I dont really [Laughter] Walter Mosley:--and it was amazing, you know. Really, I'm making fun but I dont really mean to make fun of them. But you know, if you're born in the 50s, you're black, you know. They say, I'm light skinned. Well he's light skin then, you know. He got some good hair but he black. He a nigger just like me. Man, you know that. You know, and so there wasnt a thing like, I didn't feel like I didn't belong because it's the only place I could be. I was with black people and it was fine, I mean, everybody accepted it. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:I said, no, you gotyou know, you could pass, you know. I mean, it wasnt just the thing you would say but it didn't mean anything. I was black. My father saidI said, Dad, what am I? He saidI asked once and this is what my father said, Dad, I figured it out. Everybody in the world is black except mom and the people on the television. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:And he said, No, Walter. No. And you know, that was it. Thats all he had to say, that tone of voice of my fathers. So like, you know, maybe I didn't answer your question. Attica Locke:You didnt and I dont care, I mean, that was fantastic. Walter Mosley:Okay. Attica Locke:But what I was starting to get at isin my opinion, there's the theme of Diaspora runs deeply throughout your work. And so you are doubly the child of Diaspora, that being that your mother is a product of Diaspora and your father of a great African-American migration. And so I'm curious how much you are consciously wearing that on you when you first kind of sat down to begin a life as a writer. But if you felt like you were taking on a role as a historian, whether there was something to document, if it was in your conscious mind to speak to some of these things. Walter Mosley:You know, I don't know. It's not like I wasI had a plan. You know, I'm from Los Angeles and I'm black, you know, I mean, in some kind of metaphorical way. And I knew that we, black people, in Los Angeles is some of the most important part of Los Angeles history and certainly Los Angeles culture, you know. You know, just like, you know, many Japanese and Chinese and Mexican and other Latino people, have such a big impact. But we have no real presence in the literature. And because we didn't have presence in the literature, we didn't exist because nobody reads history, you know. I mean, very few people write good history and they aren't ready. They're still like, you know, it's really awful. And so my idea was to write that history of these people that I love, you know. And certainly that, you know, they're Mexicans and Jews and all kinds of people who show up in the literature because you know, we live in a world, you know, with other people, like a lot of peoples fiction doesnt know. And so what we do is, you know, thats what I want to write that. Thats a political notion, not quite as, like, developers, the one that you're suggesting. But like, and from that notion, you know, grows, you know-- Attica Locke:And let me ask you a question that people ask me all the time, why did it show up in the particular genre of mystery at least this first novel? Why do you think? We talked about this a little bit at dinner? Walter Mosley:We did? Oh okay. I forget. Attica Locke:We talked about wild background. Walter Mosley:Yeah, yeah, yeah. Attica Locke:And my straight and narrow background and I was curious Walter Mosley:Both of our attitudes toward a wild background is what we talked about. Attica Locke:Yes. Walter Mosley:Butso what was the question. Attica Locke:Well, you dont make me realizeI probably forgot it. We were talkingwe might have to move on because I actually literally-- Walter Mosley:Maybe your daughter remembers. Attica Locke:Maybe she remembers. Oh yes, why did is show up asthank you. Why did it show up as mystery? Why did it show up for you Walter Mosley:I wrote a book called Gone Fishing, which is about 2 late teenage black men in Southern Texas and maybe a little bit in Louisiana and a mystical town of Peoria, Texas. They're coming to their adulthood and I send the book out and people sendalso had us back, this is really good writing but this is not a commercial novel. And I finally forgot what they meant. What they meant was that white people dont like black people. Black women dont like black men, and black men dont read. So whos going to read your book? [Laughter] Attica Locke:You have just explained my sales figures for the last 4 years. Thank you. Walter Mosley:And so, you know, I mean like, so there I am, you know, and I said, well, okay. You know, because, you know, listen. You know, Malamud would write a whole bunch of books before it got published. I think The Natural is the first thing he got published because thats because it was about baseball. So I readI wrote another book, the same 2 characters, Easy and Mouse, and it's called Devil in a Blue Dress. But halfway through, I said, you know, this is kind of like a mystery, you know. Thats kind of interesting and I finished writing it and I gave it to an editor and he liked it. I gave it to an agent. She liked it. He said, I'll publish it if you're going to rewrite it. And I did, you know, and it was great. Attica Locke:So youve stumbled in some ways into that genre? Walter Mosley:Yeah. I just stumbled into it. You know, and I said, well, this nice. I like writing mysteries. I dont only write mysteries, you know, thats not the only thing I'm going to do but I like doing it. It was fun. Attica Locke:What happened the first book that wasnt a mystery that you had to share? What was the publishers reaction? If youve gotten this great niche going and were having this great sales and people loved your buttwhat happened when you first showed up with something that was not-- Walter Mosley:Oh they're very upset. They finally got rid of me, you know. I mean, from that publisher, they finally kicked me out, you know. I gave this book, you know, because I said, Well, can we do Gone Fishing? They said, Well, maybe if we do a collection of your books, we can use that as an introduction, you know. And I went, Really? It's like a whole novel and it could be an introduction? They said, We have to cut it down a little bit. But, you know, I said, listen, and he gave it to Paul Coach from Baltimore, that classic press and that was great. I published that, you know. I think that like, some people think that you're going to get rich writing, you know, especially the publisher. They think they're going to get rich on your writing and I did. It's like, if you want to get rich, you buy real estate. You're from LA, you know. You buy an apartment building. You rent out some units, you know. You hire a marshal to kick people out when they dont pay the rent, you know. You raise the rent, you know. And thats what you do. And so I'm going to write books, you know, I mean, if you're writing books, if you're not writing from your heart, then that can be good books. And if you are writing from your heart, they may not be what people expect, you know. And so, you know, so I read a lot of different kinds of books. I write as were talking before very fast. I think I've published 46 books now. Attica Locke:Yeah. [Applause] Walter Mosley:And, you know, well, only if they're good. But you know, I love writing. A lot of times, you know, publishers dont like and I have to change publishers. Every time they get mad, I got to change publishers. You know, I'll go here because they dont want to publish erotica or I'll go here because they dont want to publish science fiction, you know. Attica Locke:But can I ask you as a new kid on the block. Is that kind of inner confidence of saying, Well, if this is not working here, I kind of know what I did and I'm going to go find a different house for it. Did you always have that or has that come from 40-something books? Walter Mosley:No, no, no, I always had it because you know, it's like, you know, reallywell, you know, I started late. I started writing when I was in my mid 30s. Got my first book published when I was 38. So in many respects, I was already a failure. And you know, once you're a failure in life, you're always a failure in life. You never become a success. Like, you know, it's likeyou know, I already was, you know, likeI already was who I was. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:You know, so somebody, you know, like, if you're young and you're very successful, you know, you want to hold on to what youve done, you know, I'm like, well, you know, what Joe Lewis said to his friend who was his trainer. He said, Man, you know, Joe, you better be putting somebody away. And he said, You remember those jobs we had at the docks loading up them ships. He said, Yeah. I said, They still got them jobs for us now. Like, you know, you have to think like that. Otherwise, as a writer, you're not going to connect with your heart. If you're not going to connect with your heart, you're not going to connect with your people. Attica Locke:I want to talk a lot or talk some about the latest book, little green, which I love. Walter Mosley:Okay. Attica Locke:They're for me and if you will allow me to comment a little before I lead up to a question. For me, there's a great theme of resurrection in this book, and there's little resurrection because Easy Rawlins went off a cliff and he's okay and thats page 1, so I'm not giving anything away. But there's also for me something kind of behind the resurrection. There's another theme to me about that generation who left the south and came to a place like Los Angeles, who had seen the absolute worst than America had to offer them, and had lived it and survived it and come out from the other side. There's a great line in the book where Easy is on Sunset Strip talking to this hippie girl and she's talking about a whore house and she's, you know, saying it's work. It's no different than working in a factory. It's no different than being on the line, and he says, or in the cotton fields. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:And I got my dad here and my dad who picked cotton as a child, always says whatever he's doing was not pick cotton. So this can't be that bad. So for me-- Walter Mosley:They said, you mean, I could make money fucking? [Laughter] Walter Mosley:I dont have to be in this goddamn cotton field. Damn. I could imagine thats what I would think because it's hard picking cotton, right? It like, it cuts up your hands and shit, you know. It's like, it's really bad. You got blood in my cotton, boy. Attica Locke:But for people who survive that and came out on the other side, to me, in that resurrection is a kind of fearlessness in the freedom that they could find. And I dont know if that was conscious on your partyou might not even see that. I do want to read a short passage from the book. You with me? Walter Mosley:I'm here. As long as I dont have to read it out. Attica Locke:You do not have to read it, sir. Walter Mosley:Damn. Attica Locke:This is Easy talking, My mind was filled with images and imaging about life before and after the car crash. I was thinking about shear croppers again. Those small body, powerful men and women who dragged bulging sacks up to five times their size across fields of cotton. This image seemed the appropriate metaphor for my life. That huge sack was my house, my car, my job, hunting down a boy I never met, rather than a burden. This weight, this millstone was my chance at deliverance. If I could survive that labor, then my rest would be deserved. I think that is incredibly beautiful. [Applause] Walter Mosley:It sounds nice. Attica Locke:It sounds nice. Walter Mosley:I like that. Attica Locke:But it speaks to holding on to an agrarian memory in this new land of California. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Well, thats easy, yeah. Attica Locke:So I guess this might all just be a compliment on my part to say I love that. But what I found in it is a kind ofif you live through all that and you arrived here, it makes me think that the black people who arrived here, what they were able to do and create and add to the culture as you said, came from, you got to live through the worse of the worse that this country has. And you are free now. You are free to really kind of achieve something grand. Walter Mosley:And thats what people saw. I mean, you know, it doesnt matter. You can go to California. Eat off the trees Attica Locke:Right. Right. Walter Mosley:Man, it's good out there. It wasnt that good but just, even the dream of it, evenis kind of wonderful. You know, you can come out and like, my fathers like, Man, I got 3 jobs, you know. Sounds like, someone, like, in living colors, I got 3 jobs. He said, In the morning, I do this. In the night, I do that. On the weekend, I'm a painter. You know, and it's like, you know, and I bought my own house, you know. It's really like, all these things that you couldnt do, you know. I mean, there were dangers of course, you know, but you know, I mean Attica Locke:And there's amy sister and I talked about this before about thesomebody needs to study the difference between the black people who left and the black people who stayed and their different kind of experience. Because I come from people who stayed and I come from people who never left Texas. Walter Mosley:Political activist who stayed. Attica Locke:Political activist who stayed. Walter Mosley:It's like, I mean, like, thats more than staying. Attica Locke:Thats more than staying. Thats like, getting in it. Thats like getting in it, and I think it's just a different kind of experience. But if you will allow me, I want to run through another little piece of the book about Mr. Chester Himes. Walter Mosley:Okay. Oh yeah. Attica Locke:I love that you call him out. So Chester Himess beautiful noir crime fiction writer from thewhen did he start? In the 40s did he start? Walter Mosley:Yeah, I think it's the 40s, yeah. Attica Locke:So you got 2 guys in here comparing Cotton Comes to Harlem with Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man. And so the character, Jackson says I think that Himes is equal to Ellison. You compare Cotton to Invisible Man. Not just that Jackson countered, Chester got 13 other books and still counting. Ellison is good, but you know the word Masterpiece come from painting. So there ain't never been an artist in history ever painted just one painting and had it called a masterpiece. You got to do a lot of work, get experience before you can say something like that. I like Ralphs book but I think it's Chester get down to where the shit stinks. Ellison made a window that the white man could look into. But it's Chester made a door so we could have a way out of the burning house. [Applause] Attica Locke:Now, what's fascinating to me about this is that Tony Morrison and Junot Diaz just sat down at the New York Public Library maybe 2 months ago. And she said something very similar to what you just said. Walter Mosley:She mustve read my book. Attica Locke:She mustve read your book. She said, invisible to whom? Walter Mosley:Yeah, right. Attica Locke:You know? What do you mean by that? And so it leads me to askso for her, she brought that into a larger conversation about who are the intended audiences that were all thinking about. And for her, it was a danger in presuming a white audience. And I'm curious how much you have a fixed idea of an audience, your audience in your mind. Does it have a color? Does it have a gender? Walter Mosley:You know, my audienceI know very well that my audience shifts. Like, for instance, when I wrote RLs Dream, really, the main character is soupspoon-wise but right there with him is Kiki Waters. And Kiki, is a white woman who was really severely sexually and otherwise, physically abused as a child by her father and her home. And when I was travelling around the south, only white women journalists were interviewing me and they all said, I know somebody just like that. But the way they said it didn't sound like, you know, something like they know them in the mirror, you know, and it was like, it was a book that they love, you know. It was a very important book to them, you know. I remember in the opposite when I wrote Always Outnumbered. Always Outgunned, a lot of white male journalists would say to me, you know, I dont think I can forgive Socrates for what he did. And I would answer gleefully, Socrates doesnt care what you think. You know, thats not on his list, you know. And so, you know, like, different people read books for different reasons at different times, you know. And for me to worry about that, my worry is to write the best possible book that for me, sings. One of the things in my firstat least my first 20 books, I read the book out loud into a tape recorder somewhere around the 67th-- Attica Locke:Draft. Walter Mosley:--yeah, draft, wherebecause you know, where you can actually hear it, you know. A novel should be a musical experience. Attica Locke:Do you think that's a black thing? Walter Mosley:Well, no I dont. I think that anyI mean, if it is, you know, thats too bad for white people and other people, because you know, like all books are music. All peoples language, you know, sings, I mean, the Irish, man. Attica Locke:Yeah. I mean, I asked that because I feel like I'm always trying to catchmy narrator for me feels like somebody likes sitting at a bar, let me tell you the story. It's very oral to me and I approach it much more from that point-of-view than thinking about high literature. I'm just trying to catch voice and-- Walter Mosley:But you know, I mean, high literature is that. I mean, you know, James Joyce is that. I mean, Charles Dickens or Mark Twain or Herman Melville. Attica Locke:Thats true. Walter Mosley:I mean, you know, I was once in a writing workshop very early in my career and one said, well, you know, you have all this dialect. You shouldnt havegood literature doesnt have dialect. And the teacher turned and said, So you think Huckleberry Finn is a bad book? You know? Attica Locke:Right. Right. Walter Mosley:Oh well, a white guy like this, I guess okay, you know. Because we know he's smart enough to, you know. Attica Locke:Right. Right. Walter Mosley:But you know, of course-- Attica Locke:I had an experience like that when Iwith my first book that I was writing in a black southern vernacular and there was a fear for me that people would think I could not speak the Queens English that I just Walter Mosley:And a lot them dont but thats okay. You know, I mean, really, honestly, a lot of people, you know, if one person out of every thousand people in America buys your book, you have runaway best-seller. Attica Locke:Thats true. Walter Mosley:So 999 people can hate your book and just 1 of them likes it and you're great. You're doing good, you know. So like, you know, I mean, you know, there's a thing, like, you know, we worry about things, which aren't really true. Everybody didn't have to love us, you know? Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:Most people dont have to love us. If only black people want to buy your book, there are millions of black people. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Thats fine with me. Somebody said, Well, you know, you can't write that gay literature, you know, because you know, then only gay people buy your books. Then man, I will sell you, you know. [Laughter] Attica Locke:[Laughs] Walter Mosley:Your mother going to buy my book, you know. Attica Locke:[Laughs] Oh my god. So you're not then burdening yourself with the task of speaking to either or and black or white America. You dont feel a kind of burden of speaking to a particular audience. Walter Mosley:Well, the truth is that every time somebody read your bookpeople make up your book. If somebody is smarter than me and they read my book, they think smarter things than I think. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:It's true. I've had people come up to me and say things that are actually true about the book but I would never have thought of it because I'm not smart enough. And I go, wow, yeah, uh-huh, you know. It's okay, you know, because genius is a cultural thing, you know, it's not a singular thing. You know, Mozart, yeah, yeah, yeah, but without language around him, without people around him, without history of music, there's no Mozart. I mean, we make it up together, you know. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:I mean, and thats just true. Attica Locke:Well, let me ask you this one, particularly with this book because Easy has grown, he almost died, he's older, and you write in the past tense and there are times where it feels that I can almost picture. I'm curious if you have Easy fixed somewhere in your mind. When he's telling these stories, is he still in California? Is he a particular age in your mind from which he's narrating? Walter Mosley:He's old. He's old and he's remembering. Attica Locke:You dont have to give it all up. Walter Mosley:But he's and he's remembering. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:You know, and that waybecause every novel you write, you know, you could be writing about ancient Romeif you're writing today, you're writing for people today. You're not writing for people in ancient Rome. They look at it and go, What the hell is this? You know, damn, the pages turn. Wow. Attica Locke:It's paper. Walter Mosley:Thats so strange. Attica Locke:Is he in California when he's telling the story? Walter Mosley:I think he might be, yeah, because I mean, I think he feels anchored in LA, you know, like a lot of people. They came here and it was just so great. I ain't going nowhere ever again. Attica Locke:Well, I like knowing that he's an old man. That means if he falls off another cliff, I'll know that-- Walter Mosley:Yeah, thats right. Attica Locke:--he lived to tell it. Mr. Mosley, why did you leave California? Walter Mosley:I dont like driving. [Laughter] Attica Locke:Thats a pretty good reason to leave. Walter Mosley:I dont like driving. I didn't like driving when it was easy to drive in LA, you know, when I could get from one place to the next, you know. And now, my god, you know, and you know, my whole life, my family came from New York, you know, led my mothers family, you know, they all wanted the sun. But I had the sun everyday forever, you know. So I want to be in New York, you know, I always wanted to be in New York and I love it there, you know. But, you know, I'm still a California boy. I mean, even there, you know, I dont act like I'm from New York. You know, they accept me. They like me, you know. Attica Locke:In what ways-- Walter Mosley:And they say, You different though, man. You different. Attica Locke:In what ways does your California show? Walter Mosley:Well, actually starting to be a writer in your mid-30s. Yeah, like that all by itself. You know, I think the way I explained California. California is where the 80-year-old woman finally retires from her job and you say, Well, what are you going to do now? I said, Well, I'm thinking about taking up ballet. Attica Locke:Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Walter Mosley:You know. Attica Locke:And she will have 5 people saying, Thats a good idea. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:Thats California. That is true. Walter Mosley:And then she has the concert and you go throughand you go, I'm having that concert tonight. Attica Locke:Thats true. Thats true. Whereas you were in New York can haveso that leads me to a question about how you're writing, whether its about California or not has shifted between the 2 spaces. They're very different and on my opinion, you know, New York makes me very sleepy and I get overstimulated and overwhelmed. I dont think I could strain together 2 sentences in Manhattan. So I'm curious how writing is different there versus here. Walter Mosley:Well, you know, writing is not different anywhere. I write everyday 3 hours a day-- Attica Locke:How many hours? Walter Mosley:About 3360 days a year. It's about 5 days. I have to give up for one reason or another. But you know, almost everyday, 360 days a year. I write 3 hours every morning no matter where I am. So like it doesnt matter if it's in New York or if it's in LA or it's, you know, like I'm in Columbus, Ohio waiting, do a reading somewhere. I just, you know, get up and you do the reading because the writing is what's important, you know, Writing is like anyou know, all art is an unconscious activity. People who want to be an artist and they feel that they can't, it's because you're thinking that it's conscious. You're thinking that, you know, that tall story wrote war and peace word for word and then went back and change anything. You know, no, he changed it many, many, many, many, many, times. And if you write everyday, it's like psychoanalysis. What happens is that other 21 hours, your unconscious is working and then when you come back to it the next day, there's new stuff. If you skip a day, it's hard to get back and you skip 2 days, you have to start over again. Attica Locke:You wrote about this in the New York Times. You said about ideas being fragile and needing to write, needing love everyday. You said these ideas have no physical form. They are smoky concepts liable to disappear at the slightest disturbance. An alarm clock or a ringing telephone will dispel a new character. Answering the call will erase a chapter from the world. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:And it took me a minute to come to that. I used a different language. For me, it isI feel it when I'm in a book I'm in a relationship and it feels to me that I wouldnt go a day without speaking to my husband because how are you going to have a relationship if you're not checking in every single day. And so I feel the same way that that time away from the book, it's too much work to find where you were in it. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:Again, you waste a lot of time that way, and there's no promise you will fine your way back to where you left off. Walter Mosley:Yeah, it would be somewhere else. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:Somebody else is, isnt it? What's your name? Ralph? Oh. Attica Locke:But what's heartening about what you said in the New York Times that I think a lot of newer writers dont understand is that, having that kind of daily relationship with the work might look different everyday and that thats okay. But you know, everyday is not going to 10 pages. Walter Mosley:Yeah, it doesnt matter. Like, it doesnt matter how much you write. What matter is that you address the novel or whatever you're writing or painting or whatever you're doing, you know, it's like as long as you address it, then your mind comes alive to it and all those things in your unconscious, this vast space like a universe. These lights are twinkling on and off and they start vibrating and they start talking to each other separate from you. And then, you know, as time goes on when you come back to it, new things are there and other concepts have come together, ideas have resolved themselves, you know. Attica Locke:I had a later question for you but I'll bring it up now, which is these 46 books andhelp me understand how that happens in a mans lifetime. I mean, I'm hearing it with this 3 hours everyday but I'm also curious, you said 5 days here, they're in the year your task was doing something else but has there ever been a lifes change, some kind of thing that happened that fundamentally disrupted that for you and how did you get past that or has it really been consistent through marriages, divorces, deaths, moving here, change of drops. Has it always been-- Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:--there. Walter Mosley:Yeah, I mean, really, I think that the worst period of my life was when my father died and I wrote everyday then. You know, because I mean, really, it was one way to connect with my father, you know, my father was a wonderful writer, but I mean, you know, he came from a time and a place where he couldnt make it real. He couldnt realize it. And his stories, you know, my father could tell you like, a dumb story that you will still laugh your ass off it. You'll be so upset at yourself. Why am I laughing? This is stupid. But he was just so funny. And he was also very manipulative in his stories, you know, which I also kind of love because part of the things as we manipulate peoples emotions, you know, and so, no, you know, I just kept on writing. I mean, I could imagine that something might have to make me stop but it hasnt, you know. Attica Locke:No, but I think it's here. I think it's probably here to stay. Did your father lived to see your first book published? Walter Mosley:Yeah, yeah. I won an award in England. We went together and he went with me. And I went to this thing and were standing like ready to go in and a guy came up and said, Mr. Mosley and I turned to said yes, he goes, No, no, not you, your father. My friend Joe from New York, you know, the guy you met, that was my father, oh yeah, he told me to say hello to you. I was like, wow, my dad, you know, is very cool. Attica Locke:So I want to switch a little bit and talk about your experiences with Hollywood and particularly the adaptation of your work. So first one was Devil in a Blue Dress. How involved were you in that process, the script, the casting, any of it? Walter Mosley:Well, you know, the notion of doing a movie is kind of like the thing of working with smoke, you know, because they, whoever they are, buy it and then they own it, you know. And they dont reallythey listen to what you say. You say, well how about if you do him? Well, okay, fine, we can do him. Why dont you give us a couple of million and we'll do that, you know. I mean, you buy into this, you know, because otherwise, you know, shut up. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:So the notion is that you have to choose very well the original people, whos going to produce it, whos going to direct it, whos going to write it. If you could be a part of making that decision, make the deal with those people in place, then pretty much, you can have an okay film or you have a good shot of having an okay film. And thats what happened with Devlin, you know, Carl Franklin was writer and director. Jonathan Demme was producer. Attica Locke:Thats a great team. Walter Mosley:Yeah. I mean, you know, and-- Attica Locke:Who wrote it? Walter Mosley:Carl Franklin wrote it and he did a very good job. He would call me up and ask me questions, but I was really smart. He said, Walter, I'm going to do this. What do you think? I said, Oh thats a good idea, I think. I never disagree with Carl once. I dont think he ever noticed it but I like, I didn't know. Like, I dont know how to make movies. This is what I'm going to do, you knowI know a lot of people think they do because they watch movies. Like, I mean, everybody watches television, right? But all you have to is one day sit down and think about that show you just watched and figure out, how did they write that because it's really difficult. It has nothing to do with how you experience it, you know. And I knew that, you know, I was writing books and that was hard enough. I didn't even know how I was doing that. And so I'm certainly wasnt going to it with movies and that worked well. Then I wrote Always Outnumbered and me and Michael directed it. We did it at HBO, very good place to make anything. And that movie, you know, Laurence Fishburne said hed star in it and he was wonderful. He said, great on thegreat actor but even better than that, he's great on the set. He makes everybody happy. He makes everybody feel comfortable, you know. And sobut we had a great experience doing that. It was a really good movie. The guy who was the head of HBO at the time, he came to me and he said, Walter, I just want to tell you how happy you made me. He's not the head at that time. I said, What do you mean? He said, Well, you know, I've been working a long time and my fathers never been happy with anything I ever did. He called me last night and he said, you know that movie I sawit said DevilI saw ityou know, you finally did something okay. [Laughter] Attica Locke:Well, thats fine praise. Walter Mosley:It was. It was great. I said, thats really good. Attica Locke:So after the movie was over, it keeps going. I'm curiousI mean, your characters have kept going. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:So does it get in your head? I mean, Mouse looks nothingDon Shield doesnt look like Mouse. So is that now, like, messing with your Walter Mosley:No. Attica Locke:What's is your head? You dont see Denzel coming to you in a dream about [Laughter] Walter Mosley:I knew there are people in here who do, you know. I know they're people in here who do. But if I have those dreams, I'm not going to admit to that. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:But as far as my books are concerned, no. You're skipping all of these things. I like that. Attica Locke:Were going to get to the people. Right. Yeah. Did that. Oh let meyou got to let me ask a couple of quirky craft questions. Walter Mosley:Uh-huh. Attica Locke:I think people like to hear and I'm also curious. For you in particular, naming characters. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Attica Locke:Is that instantaneous for you or do you have to reach for it and do you think it is possible for you to know a character before he or she is named because names are such a big deal in what you write. Walter Mosley:Yeah, I dont think so. I think that I have to name them. You know, my producing partner, Dianne over there and were running around doing this pitch with the wonderful, [???][0:44:23.3] trying to do a show called Mystery and Between. It's based on a short story I wrote and the storythe guy asked, you know, the main character who delivers messages to people, you know, kind ofmessages that you dont want anybody to hear. And he said, well, you know, What should I call you? He said, Well, you can call me Master because thats my name, Master Vincent. He said, You know, you could call me Mr. Vincent, you know, if you want to be more formal. But you know, like the whole notion that, you know, because his mother, you know, he's from the south, you know, so they named him Master so people can disrespect him. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:You want to call me about my first name? Fine. My first name is Master. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Master, how do I get in this refrigerator? Attica Locke:Oh my god. Walter Mosley:Thats how you playyou call, Mouse, Mouseyeah, right, you call him Mouse. Attica Locke:Right. Right. And he's a tough Walter Mosley:Yeah. Yeah. Attica Locke:What comes for you first? Character? A setting? A line of dialogue? Walter Mosley:Usually a line of some sort, you know. Attica Locke:Being pros or dialogue. Walter Mosley:Usually it's a line that comes, you know. But yeah, sometimes I have a character in mind. I have a name, you know, when I was working with Socrates, lately, I came up with a name Billy Soms, the gambler. Thats perfect. I dont know what it means but it's perfect. His name sounds like he's not too tall, you know. Attica Locke:No, I mean, I find that someI have to reach more for names a little bit. And I feel like I dont really know who the person is until I completely know their name. And for me it's all about where they were born. It was allI need Walter Mosley:I dont completely know who they are until the third or fourth book. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:You know, like, I'm still discovering things about Socrates, you know, I mean, like, damn. Really? Wow. That whole discussion with Easy and Jackson about Himes, you know. I didn't really knowI didn't know they had it in him, you know. Attica Locke:Yeah, yeah. Walter Mosley:You know, and there are things Mouse says, man. I would never think about them on my own. Attica Locke:Thats the unconscious though. Thats the unconscious. Walter Mosley:Yeah. I said, Mouse, you know, what are you going to do to him? Attica Locke:So you're not a naturally violent man? Walter Mosley:I dont think so. I dont think so, you know. You just think of what people dofor a long time I was a nighttime custodian. Not long time, a couple of years at the Los Angeles Unified School District. I go to schoolwe clean them out more ways than one. And there was a guy I worked with named, Eddy. I was like, 19 or 18 and Eddys like, 21. Eddys like, looking at me one day. He's just looking at me and I am a little uncomfortable. I said, Man, what are you looking at? He said, You know, Walter, I like you. Which made me a little uncomfortable. And I said, Yeah? And he said, But you know man, if somebody $1800 to kill you, youd be dead. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Now, I dont know why he needed $1800. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Or why the wish fulfillment of getting that $1800 is killing me. But I told him, I said, nobody wants me dead that bad, you know, and we went on. But you know, you have these experiences in life. There are people who are very, you know, violent, tell violent, stories. Attica Locke:When we were at Dinner, we were talking about your time on the road, dropping in on communes, hitchhiking across the country. And I was thinking, if these were all things I would never ever do and I was thinking that I feel like, my fascination with crime comes from my fear. It's literally just me playing out everything I'm terrified off and it seems like that you have come across some characters that kind of led you into the darker side of that. Walter Mosley:Well, I'm scared, you know. Like, you know, I'm scared all the time. Have you ever like, you know, walking there and the bus comes by and you almost stepped in the street, you know. I mean, really, it didn't have to be, you know, violence like somebody mad at you. You know, like, people die all the time terribly and ridiculously, you know. It's like, they just do, you know, they're just following their own path, then end up dead, you know. Walk here, went there and then all of the sudden the ground came off under me. I wanted to catch on but Iyou know, and then they're dead. I mean, you know, thats kind of like, you know, thats what life is about. You know, were mortals. Mortal means were going to die, you know. You know, and we live in a place, you know, like I mean, they tell me the police are better in Los Angeles. I had at least 5 LA cops pulled guns on me and believe me, I've never done anything for somebody to pull a gun on me, ever. You know, I mean, you know, they pulled a gun on me and it's like, you know, warning me and threatening me and trying to make me confess the things. I mean, and you know, I mean, but there was a thing, you know, and part of it was being high for most of my young life. Attica Locke:I was going to leave that part out. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Yeah. But it was all kind of like, distant, you know. You see it and you go, wow, that man had a gun on me. [Laughter] Attica Locke:[Laughs] Walter Mosley:That was some crazy shit right there. I think I'm going to go over to Christines house and she what she thinks. [Laughter] Attica Locke:[Laughs] Walter Mosley:You know what I mean? It's like, you know-- Attica Locke:Yes, yes. Walter Mosley:You're just livingyou know, you're living, you know, you're living life and like you say, you're not in the cotton fields, you know. I mean, them, you know, you're not in prison. Attica Locke:Yeah, yeah. Walter Mosley:There's a kind of an agony and the pain and the suffering, which is day to day and forever You know, like, sometimes somebody black will come up to me and say, you know, like in the 20th century black walk up to me in Detroit. I said, Hows it going? He saidand I said, Well, I understand what you're talking about, brother. In the 21st century, I go to the same place and I said, you know, Well, hows it going, brother? He said, Man stuff on a black man on Detroit. And I said, I know what you're talking about, brother. But you know, there's a dude in Kandahar would be happy to do an apartment swap with us. [Laughter] Attica Locke:Wooh, you dont want-- Walter Mosley:People in KF said, Damn, I'll trade places with you, black man, you know. It's like, you knowsometimes we forget how lucky we are, you know. Waking up in the morning, you know, you just had sex with somebody wonderful. You're going to have some nice whisky and then you got three jobs, you know. Things are good. You bought a house, you know. You got two wives, you know. They dont know about each other. [Laughter] Attica Locke:[Laughs] Walter Mosley:People live in all kinds of lives, you know, and you don't know. It's like, and you can complain, you can get upset that somebody mistook Sam Jackson for somebody else. You know, I meanbut thats Sam Jacksons problem and he took care of it. He took care of it. It's over now. He said, That man is never going to be mad again. And a whole bunch of other people learn not to do that again, you know? And it's like, but you know, to say, you know, this is an attack on me. Well, it kind of is. I understand that. But also, you know, were so lucky to be alive, you know. Were so lucky to be breathing. Were so lucky, you know, to have those moments behind us. And you know, I think that when Easy is talking about his life, you know, he's thinking that. You know, Jackson Blue was a great friend. Myles was a great friend, you know. Attica Locke:Yeah. Walter Mosley:I have children that I raise. I have children that I found in the street that, you know, have taken care of me. You know, there are things that are so beautiful in life and thats what I'm writing about. And I think that, you know, in most of my books, these people are very happy. I'm not sad, you know. If youwhy are white people so upset with black people? I said, Because they just dont know how beautiful it is to be colored, you know. Attica Locke:[Laughs] Walter Mosley:I mean, who we are, who we were, who we were raised with, thats a beautiful thing. These are beautiful people that live a wonderful life. And you know, just because somebody else, you know, tried to make it hard, thats okay, they just made it better, really. Attica Locke:That is a beautiful place to open it up. [Applause] Attica Locke:So we have some questions? Male:I appreciate many things youve written and I have a question but I want to share with Gone Fishing. There's an image that sticks in the mind where the boys are way up country and they go in this womans house, they can't get in the house because there's so much furniture. They're like, thats the book, right? And she explains, she's the last one in their family and she's inherited all this furniture and she doesnt feel she can give it away. So she just makes a little more room. And as I get older, we inherit stuff. That image is there like, are we going to be walking through the fat couches in the living room. But my question is, Mouse, Mouse died and then Mouse came back. Walter Mosley:Yeah. Male:And Mouse is very alive now but you made a decision that he would die or Mouse decided to die. In the end, somebody decided he should come back. He went over a bump. Is that how-- Walter Mosley:No, no. Easy is the one who drove off the side of the cliff. He didnt die. He just went over the side of the cliff. Attica Locke:He almost died. Walter Mosley:Almost died. Mouse also was shot at one point and you know, but he was taken to Mama Joe. Once you get to Mama Joe, you're okay. If there's any possibility in the universe of fixing, your Mama Joe will do that. Thats the great thing. You know, you need people like that on your side, you know, and Mama Joe, Myles, you know, Jackson Blue, John the bartender. Easy hashe has a good crew, and you know. You never want to mess with somebody withyou know. Any other questions, notions, thoughts, ideas, minor criticisms? [Laughter] Male:Where did Socrates come from? Walter Mosley:Before I answer that question, I want to answer this fellas, you dont have to give it backit's like, its going to be, I'm going to answer this and then were going to do that. I was, you know, I was with my publisher, my publishers trying to be creative. They said were going to, you know, we know you're Jewish, we know you're black, so were just going to justwere going to send you on a tour of Southern Jewish Book Festivals. Attica Locke:And then there were-- Walter Mosley:There're a lot of them. Attica Locke:There are? Walter Mosley:Wherever therere Jews and books, there're book festivals. So I went to it and it's great, because you know, everybody comes. Theyve all bought the book before they got there. Theyve all read the book, you know, it's great, you know, and I'm talking. But there're always, right here 3 ladies, 3 ladies listening right here. They're old ladies and they're saying, We want to know where your mother is in that book. I think it was Black Betty and Easy was reading Hadrians Memoirs and I said, Well, you know, seems very smart and she taught me a lot about language She said, No, no, no, it's when Easy is reading Hadrian. I never knew Hadrian was Jewish. And they said, Thats what makes him Jewish. And I said, Well, black people are smart. And they go, Uh-huh. Because, you know, they knew who my mother was. And so I decided I was going to make a philosopher that these ladies werent going to claim. I just said, thats what I'm going to do. I'm going to make a philosopher that these ladies will not claim and I came up with Socrates. He killed a man, raped his woman, killed her, went to 27 years in prison and then thought to try to, you know, better himself. So I know they wouldnt take her. Attica Locke:[Laughs] Female:I just have a question for you because I actually live in Watts and my question to you was why Watts and not Compton? And when you write Easys stories, do theyare they your memories or do you do some research on them? Walter Mosley:Neither. I make it up. Honestly, thats a true answer, the last part. You know, Compton in the 50s was you know, was a neighborhood in transition. It wasnt a black neighborhood yet, I mean, it was becoming it. There were black people here and there and it was slowly encroaching. But you know, I said, Watts was in the 50s was where the black people, you know, and north of there, the South Central where black people, you know, congregate. So thats why I was right about there. But there in Compton, you know, Mama Joe is in Compton now, you know, and other people live out there. But you know, I'm slowly, you know, spreading out those places. But no, it's true. I hate research. I really do. I hate research. I hate it. I dont understand it. Thats why I dont like reading missionary, you know, I feel like I'm researching, you know, his novel for him. And you know, memories, you know, like you make up stuff, you know, because thats what we do. We make up stuff. The life we live, we make up. You tell your life story to somebody and your sister will say, Uh-uh, thats not what happened. [Laughter] Male:Yeah. I've heard you make that reference before to collecting apartment buildings. I guess my interest isare your apartment buildings here in LA or are they in New York ordo you still collect them? Walter Mosley:No, no, I said if you want to get rich, you should collect them, you know. Like, I want to be writer so I want to be poor. My father ownedI don't know, like, 30 units in LA and he bought like 3 different buildings and he took care ofmy father could do anything, really. I mean, he could do anything when taking care of a building. My father can build a wall that won't crack. I mean, he's dead now but my father was great at that stuff. I'm terrible at that stuff. I can't do it. But I'm just saying. If you want to get rich, you buy a real estate. You dont write novels, you know. Thats all. Male:And your Easy Rawlins mysteries, in the beginningit seems like you took a big gap between like, Devil in a Blue Dress and A Red Death and then as the series just continued, youit seemingly the windows narrowed more and more. Is there a choice or a reason that you're choosing to do that? Walter Mosley:Well, partially my experience in the 60s and 70s is clearer to me. And therere so much political unrest and change in those periods of time, you know, whereI mean, I think the unrest is, you know, known greater but the impact on America and the social organization thats so fast. I mean, the hippies. I dont know if you remember, like the hippies came out of nowhere. One day everybody had like, short hair, you know, and then next thing, all of the sudden, their hair down to their ass, they're smoking dope, walking barefoot, you know, like they're talking like black people. I was like, it was wild. I mean, I was like, where did they come from? It's like in Louisiana, you know, they finallythey said they put a ban on killing alligators, you know, because they thought all the alligators were gone. And then the next day, hundreds, thousands of giant alligators came out of nowhere like they were, Oh, you know, the ban is gone, man. We can come out now. It's crazy. But you know, I'm getting closer and closer because I'mthat period of time, Easys going to be changing a lot. He's getting older, which actually when you get older, you change more than when you're young. You know, you really start, wow I got to do something here because it's not easy anymore. No pun intended. Female:We read about your life sort of in bits and pieces in articles. So have you given any thought to writing the full autobiography so we can learn more about your wonderful father and your mother and your growing up? Walter Mosley:No. [Laughter] Walter Mosley:Okay. I'm not going to because I dont feel that my life is interesting, honestly. My life is not like, reallyI know people who live interesting lives. You know, I was standing in a hotel lobby today and Tony Blair walked in, you know. Its not that I like Tony Blair but he's living an interesting life. Id like to hear the true autobiography of Tony Blair, you know. The true autobiography of Walter Mosley is like, you know, uh-huh. You know, it's not really all that interesting. It would be kind of a job application, you know, name, telephone number, social security number, job history, you know. I notice Mr. Mosley that after 1989 you didnt seem to hold a job. I said, Yes, I know. But you know, it's not reallyI'm not interested. And if I'm not interested, I can't write it. Male:Will Raymond get his own series or-- Walter Mosley:Oh, never. Male:Never? Walter Mosley:He's a sociopath, you know. Male:We know that but we want to find out more about Raymond. Walter Mosley:You know, either you eat it, fuck it or kill it or maybe all three, you know. I mean, it's like, there are no shades of grey with Raymond. It's like, he's good in the novel but on his own, you know, I mean, I would have to be another kind of writer, you know. Like, [???][1:02:39.3] could get away with that, you know, but not me. Okay, then here's one of them. Female:One thing I enjoy about your books is that your characters have quite a bit of humanity to them. I'm thinking of Socrates Fortlow for example. Yes, he's done some rough things in his life but there's an intelligence, you know, I mean, he's named after a philosopher and thenbut there's a depth and a connection to, you know, how theythe people in the community live and then you weave in all of these different characters, the families for example. As I recall in one of the books, a Native American child that heis it Easy that adopts? I've read-- Walter Mosley:Easy adopts Attica Locke:There you go. I don't know. I just wondered if you wanted to speak about those inner places between people and even in little green. You know, there's a mixing of the hippies, the white experience and black people and what they learn from each other. I just wondered if you wanted to speak to-- Walter Mosley:Well, you know, one time I wasI'm going to answer the question. You know, one time I was on a radio show and I was herea young woman was interviewing me and she was saying, Well, you know, what do you think about the conflict between blacks and Jews? The antipathy what's going on between them today? I said, Well, you know, my experience of blacks and Jews isyou know, my mother and father, you can see what came from that, you know, antipathy. [Laughter] Attica Locke:[Laughs] Walter Mosley:I mean, and then she said, well, yeah, I know. I said, we know really the problems of blacks and Jews is you. And she said, What are you talking about? I said, Well, you know, the news is always talking about, you know, they need to sell commercials. They need to sell airtime. They need to gather an audience in order for them to have, you know, their life, their money, you know. And so you talk about all the terrible things that happened. I know all these wonderful that are happening. Like, people talking about, you know, blacks and Chicanos or Koreans and everybody like, we dont like each other, like we dont get along like we werent raised together here in the city. In this city, you know, like there are a lot of cities that are naturally segregated and LA is segregated according to class but as far as race is concerned, theyve been building this city so fast since 1946, they dont have time to choose who works with who. So my parents friends were always, you know, Chinese and Korean and Mexican and white and black and Jewish and all the different religions and it was, you know. And you know, 9 out of 10 people get along, you know. At least on the surface. They get along. Hey, how are you doing today, Joe? Maybe I dont want to go home with you but how are you doing today? Thats all I need. I just need you to smile at me and say hello. You dont have to take me home. I dont even want to go home with you. I meanand I think that my books reflect that experience to talk about, you know, how people get along together. How people share lives together. How our lives come together and change each other and make each other and let us understand things, you know, like there's somebody in Kandahar who has more trouble than I do and I should remember. I dont have to Kandahar but I should remember that, you know. [Applause] Attica Locke:Beautiful said. Walter Mosley:We have one more question. Female:When you write, do you work on the same thing everyday until like, you're finished or do you write like-- Walter Mosley:As close as I can. So for instance, I start writing on novel A. I'm writing, writing, writing, and I finish it. First draft, second draft, thirdsend it to my editor. Okay, thats going to take 2 months. So the next day I start writing novel B. I'm writing, writing, writing, writing. Attica Locke:This is 46 books. Walter Mosley:Like 45 days later, I get novel A back and you know, suggested changes, which I usually argue with them dont make. But I have to read the book and look at. So then I finish with that, send A back. Finish with B, send it in. Start working on C, you know. So I'm writing, writing, and then I get B back. So there's a kind of thing with usually large stretches of time I'm working on one book. Sometimes I have to break off and do something else but then I come back again to do that because I think that getting that deeply into your unconscious, you need to be thinking about the same thing, and if you start jumping all over the place, so does your mind and you start making like, kind of misconnections, bad connection. Female:Okay. Well like, I write songs and spoken word pieces and I have one idea about maybe this person or this situation and then I'll have, you know, an idea about another person or situation or something like that. So I'm not just thinking about one thing all the time. So when my mind goes here, I'll write about that in the end. Like, if when it goes somewhere else, then I'll write about that. But you think it's a good idea to just focus on one thing until it's completed. Walter Mosley:You know, I wouldnt tell you what to do, however, a great thing to do about that is to experiment with it. So take a week and work on one piece, and at the end of that, you know, take a week and work on another piece and then see if what you get out of that is better than what you were getting before, you know, what you're getting thatyour process before might be the right process. I wouldnt try to correct it, you know. I want to answer your question about what I do. I was talking about what I do. I'm not saying you should do that. But I'm just saying how that works. But you know, the best way to do it especially if you're doing something, which is not taking you like, a year, you know. I said, well, okay, let me try this for a week or a month or whatever and see how it works. If it was good, I'll do it and if it's not good, you know, maybe it works in some things and not in others. Attica Locke:You know, hearing from this nice, young lady makes me think about a time before Id written a book that I came to an allowed program. It was Suzan-Lori Parks and I asked her a question, and thats what so special about this program is the idea that people in the community and artist get a chance to speak one on one with, you know, the best that this country has. And my interchange with Suzan-Lori Parks helps spur me on into writing my first book. And I say all of that to say, this program is brought to you guys by the library foundation of Los Angeles. I'm on the board. I'm a big believes. I'm a big supporter. It not only funds this incredible programming, it provides live homework help for students at any time who can get online and speak with somebody 24 hours a day to get help with their homework. It's putting computers in different branches. The work thats being done by the foundation in incredible and I ask you guys to take a moment when you leave here to speak with representatives from the foundation about how you can become a member and support this wonderful programming and the great work of the foundation. So thank you guys. This is wonderful. Thank you. [Applause] Attica Locke:We did it. [Chuckles] Walter Mosley:See, we didnt fall asleep or anything. Attica Locke:I didn't fall asleep.