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September 26, 2007

Wes Freed Interviews Dallas Hudgens

In the "Largehearted Boy Cross-Media Cultural Exchange Program" series (thanks to Jami Attenberg for the title), authors interview musicians (and vice versa).

Season of Gene, the second novel by Dallas Hudgens, is released this week. The author's playlist for the novel was posted on Largehearted Boy yesterday, today he is interviewed by his friend, Wes Freed.

Wes Freed is best known these days as an artist, indie rock fans specifically recognize him as the artist responsible for the Drive-By Truckers' album covers. Freed has also fronted several bands, including a personal favorite, the Shiners.

FANZINE has excerpted a chapter of Season of Gene.

Artist and musician Wes Freed interviews author Dallas Hudgens:

Wes Freed: You're roughly the same age as young Luke (the protagonist of Drive Like Hell) would be now, assuming he survived the 80's -- what was your first introduction to punk rock back in Georgia?

Dallas Hutchens: I think I was in the 8th grade when the Sex Pistols played in Atlanta. That was their first U.S. concert, and I believe the club they played was in a shopping center. Anyway, it was big local news, like they were the fall of civilization or something, so it kind of captured my attention, even though I still hadn't heard any of their music. I tried to read anything I could about them. I thought that any band causing this much trouble must be great. And of course, that made me want to hear their music and the music of other punk bands. So, the Sex Pistols were my introduction, but the Ramones were always my favorites.

WF: What do you miss most about Georgia? ... or the 70's, for that matter?

DH: I was a kid during the 70's, so I guess what I miss most about that time was not being afraid of things and not yet understanding that bad things can happen to yourself or people you care about. I remember my big brother picking me up once from a little league baseball game on his Sportster. I'd probably struck out four times, but riding on the back of his bike made me forget about that. We went and got ice cream, and then on the way home, he leaned into this curve and took his hands off the handlebars like we were on a roller coaster. I'd never do that with my own kids, but that moment is something I'll never forget. I had all the trust in the world, and it was a lot of fun.

And when it comes to Georgia, I miss the barbecue, going to Braves games, and being able to see my mother more often.

WF: Describe the hot rod you're gonna drop a wad of cash on when Season of Gene hits the NY Times Bestseller List.

DH: I'm always wasting time looking at cars on eBay, so my favorite changes from week to week. But I was just reading a book about the cars of Richard Petty. So, right now, I wouldn't mind having a '65 Barracuda.

WF: When you write, do you start with an outline that you follow closely, or start just with an idea and kind of chase it from beginning to end, or start at the end and go backwards? When I read I tend to visualize the action (so I read real slow). So much of the action in Drive Like Hell is so intricately choreographed that I had to slip into neutral to keep up with the prose. When you write, do you physically walk through the action - or does it all occur inside your head? I'm talking about the action scenes, not the naughty bits. But you may address them also if you've a mind to.

DH: I always have problems seeing the larger picture, like a story's structure, or a plot, so I don't use an outline. I usually start with a couple of characters and a situation. I place the characters in the situation and try to write a scene. From there, I simply write scene-to-scene and hope that I can see a structure or plot take shape as things move along.

The first sorts of stories I tried to write were comics when I was a kid. I couldn't draw very well at all, but I always liked having a visual aspect of story telling, especially in terms of being able to see a character clearly in your head. A face alone can tell a story. When I first saw your artwork, for instance, I immediately saw stories in the people's faces. One portrait can be like a 300-page story.

WF: Describe the room where you write. Is it dark, light, windows, computer....? Sonically silent? Muffled ambient noise? TV ? open window?

DH: It's never quiet at the house, but I like having some noise and distractions. I have a harder time concentrating when it's quiet and peaceful. My favorite place to write is a corner room at the front of the house. It's got good light and north- and west-facing windows, but I write a lot at night too. I'll get some ideas in bed, scribble them down, and then try to write a scene with it the next day.

WF: I know most of your characters are kind of an amalgam of folks you've known and fictional characters, but who would be your dream cast for Drive Like Hell, the movie? Or Season of Gene? Living or dead people, and not necessarily actors....

DH: That's tough. I worked on Drive Like Hell for a long time, so I can almost see those characters in my head. It's kind of hard to translate it to actors. Wes, I think you may have mentioned that Speedy, the on-the-lam stock car racer, could be played by Ray McKinnon. I liked that, though I think he might also make a cool Nick, who was the older brother in the book.

Jyl Freed: I remember you told us that the band The Drive-By Truckers played a role in you finishing Drive Like Hell - can you talk a bit about that, and about other factors that gave you confidence to write your first novel? Also, did you find it easier to write Season of Gene once you had one win under your belt?

DH: I'm not sure I'd call it a win. Writing the first one was sort of like fighting to a draw. I'd call the second book a draw as well, but maybe with a little less pain and a shorter recovery time. Either way, I still feel most of the time like I don't know what I'm doing. I spend a lot of time flailing away.

As for the Truckers, someone told me about them when I was writing Drive Like Hell. I may have been on my second draft of the book around that time and wasn't sure if anybody would even want to read a story like that one. So, I went to The Drive-By Truckers website, and the first thing I saw was Wes's artwork, which got my attention right away. So, I knew I'd like the music. And, of course, I did like it a lot. I also heard some threads in the songs' narratives that resonated with me in terms of what I had been trying to say or show in writing stories. That encouraged me to think there actually might be somebody out there who would want to read the story I was writing.

Wes Freed links:

Wes Freed's website
Wes Freed's Wikipedia entry
Richmond Style profile profile

Dallas Hudgens links:

Dallas Hudgens' website
Dallas Hudgens' Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for Season of Gene
FANZINE excerpts from Season of Gene
Dallas Hudgens' Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for his debut novel, Drive Like Hell
Dallas Hudgens' site at the publisher
excerpt from the book at Google Book Search
the author's "If I Only Had an iPod" essay at the Happy Booker

also at Largehearted Boy:

previous musician/author interviews

Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
directors and actors discuss their film's soundtracks
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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