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Please introduce yourself - who are you and what do you do?
My name is Richard A Lester. I am an independent filmmaker and an author. I have worked on projects for Azbest Films and Piano Man Pictures. My first novel, The Check Out, is available now through Amazon and all the usual places.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I read a lot as a child, so I basically started imitating what I was reading. The stories weren't very original, but they were a starting place. As I got older, I became interested in film. I wrote and directed my first film about 12 years or so ago. After that, I just kept writing. I worked on a lot of scripts that were impossible to film. When I got the idea for the The Check Out, I had started writing short stories again. Instead of raising money and getting a crew, I decided to try my hand at writing it as a novel.
Where did the idea for The Check Out come from?
I had worked at a grocery store for a while, and I generally got very bored there. Stocking shelves and dealing with customers is about as mundane as it can get, so I started creating bizarre scenarios to keep myself entertained. As usually happens, all these images swirled around my head until one little thing sparked them all into a cohesive story. From there, it was just a matter of getting it all onto the page.
Which author do you most admire and why?
I enjoy Carl Hiaasen a lot, as well as Stephen King. They are giants in the industry, and I believe I have learned, and still can learn, a lot from them. One author, however, is really an inspiration. Donald Ray Pollock worked in a factory in a miserable town called Knockemstiff in Ohio. At the age of 50, he left his job, went to college, and decided to become an author. He published a book of short stories while still enrolled and a fantastically dark novel called The Devil All The Time afterwords. He really knows how to delve into a character's psyche and uses the desolate surroundings of Knockemstiff to convey a sense of hopelessness. I admire him for having the courage to jump into a business that can be so brutal, and even more so for being so good at doing it!
What is the goal for you as a writer?
At this point, I just want to tell stories. Sure, it would be great to make a lot of money at it. Coming from indie film, though, I know exactly how unrealistic that can be. I have lots of ideas bouncing around in my head, and I want to be able to express them in ways that are as economically feasible as possible. I have a great group of filmmakers that I work with. We have mastered the art of no budget filmmaking. For projects that are larger scale, I am happy to express them on the page and let the readers have at them!
Which book has had the greatest influence on you?
I would say that The Devil All The Time has had an influence, certainly. Carl Hiaasen has also had an impact. As far as what has had the greatest influence, I'm not sure. I'm terrible at ranking these sorts of things.
Do you predominantly read e-books or paper books?
The only e-books I read are ones on how to market e-books. I don't have a Kindle or anything like that. I think that everyone who writes gets into it for one reason. Maybe they have other goals in mind, as well, but they all want to hold a physical copy of their book. It makes the process seem more legitimate somehow. I told my mom that I wrote a book, and she seemed mildly interested. When I invited her to my book signing, she understood that I had really done it. I hope physical copies never go away. There are few things as inspirational as walking into a bookstore. I'm sorry that few people are able to experience that now.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am putting the finishing touches on a short film that I directed in December. It's called "Stack Deck," as is a noir inspired tale about a man with a gambling debt that he can't pay back.
I have also just started on my second novel. It's been brewing for the past two years or so. I'm very happy to finally start writing it.
Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
The Check Out is, what I call, a satirical thriller. It is about a group of shady employees at a failing grocery store. Each of them digs themselves into a financial hole that they can't crawl out of. They lie to each other, cheat, and eventually decide to steal $10,000 from the store on the same night. As you can imagine, it doesn't go so well for a few of them. It's very pulp, having been influenced by exploitation films of the 1970's. There is also a foundation in film noir, with a few nods to the genre.
You can get more information about The Check Out at: www.thecheckoutbook.com or www.richardalester.com
You can purchase a copy at my Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/author/rlester
It is also available at Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Itunes, and Leafless