tv In Depth In Depth with Walter Mosley CSPAN April 7, 2018 9:00am-12:03pm EDT
.. he's the author of over 40 books including devil in a blue dress, peerless jones and most recently "down the river unto the sea", the author of over 40 books including "devil in a blue dress", fearless jones and most recently "down the river unto the sea". >> mr. mosley, welcome to book tv fiction edition. you have written nearly 50
books. "devil in a blue dress", the book, the easy rawlins series. who is easy rollins? guest: the kind of every man in the black community in the middle of the 20th century. he's been to world war ii. his whole view of himself and the world has changed. he came back to southern texas and realized he could no longer live there because of what he has learned and he and thousands of other southern black people from texas louisiana have moved to los angeles and what we do as kind of unofficial detective, but he reveals what life was like in parts of los angeles that has not been talked about. host: how did you come up with the name? >> i was writing a story and it was a voice speaking first-person and it was talking about this party he was giving
and how he was trying to raise money to pay his rentnt and he talked about this woman he was in love with named etta mae , but she wasou in love with another guy named mouse and mouse comes in and looks at the person talking who we have not seen and said hey, easy, how are you doing and that's where it came from. host: what voice is he supposed represent? guest: who, easy? host: easy rawlins. guest: it's interesting because what he represents is how the african-american voice is one of the voices in the choir of america. host: did you set out to use him as a vehicle for social commentary? guest: you know, any good novel there has to be like a great novel. doesn't have to be a very good novel, but any great novel that talks
about any character has to talk about how that character is an anchor in society and the culture and the politics. if you don't do that then it's not, you don't have a real character and so it seems to me that everyone does that. what's different is that not a lot of people were doing it with black male heroes and in doing it with black male heroes it becomes a strong cultural and social commentaryry not necessarily because that was my intention, but because i was the only person doing it for quite a while. host: one review of your book writes this about easy rot-- rawlins, for once a black man's feelings are being depicted. guest: that is true. traditional form and the black character and i'm not trying to take anything away from either of those things because otherwise the
people that i'm representing would be misrepresented. that's one thing i don't want to do. host: did you aim to set out to create easy rollins as a series? guest: not necessarily. however i'd written another book called "gone fishing", but they were younger, coming-of-age in the swamp land and i sent it out in the publishers said it's a wonderful book, but not commercial and it's not commercial because this is back in the late '80s, white people don't read about black people. black women don't like black men in black men don't read is kind of the notion they liked the book, but that they could not publish it. they were wrong, but the factay they were saying it made a true because they would not publish my book andnd then i wrote "devil in a blue dress" and when i went to the publisher they said this is great with the black detective. then they said we don't
want to just buy one book, we will by two books, so the decision was made by the publisher to be a series wasn't my idea, but i liked it. host: you described easy rawlins as a gun in one pocket and a short fuse and the other. guest: that-- this is the thing, i think of lot of our heroes that are on battle fronts and think race in america is one of the battle fronts. has to be willing to explode into violence and to defend themselves , but how they make decisions on whether or not to do it and also to try to control, that's the point. in moby dick the cook is throwing the triteness off the side and the sharks are in this feeding frenzy and eating it and the chef starts to lecture them.
he said, angels aren't just sharks have learned to control their appetite. he's trying to tell the sharp they don't have to be what they are and i think that's what you have with your characters with easy rollins. host: where does our windows "devil in a blue dress" take place? guest: 1948 in los angeles, which is, you know it's an amazing event for change. los angeles back then was populated 240,000, maybe 300,000. hundred thousand people a year move into los angeles or southern california from then until now and then part of that was all these black people from southern texas and louisiana and if so what you see is this amazing amount of change, more than any place else in the country. of the city's building, the idea is building: the culture's building and the relation between the races are building. and was a wonderful time
host: easy rawlins, a world war ii veteran, wet story are you trying to tell by making it easy rawlins a world war ii veteran? guest: i think world war ii with this amazing change for black people in america, i mean, it was for everyone, but for black people it's different. my father is from southern texas louisiana one might father's story was he left to go to the world might 42, 43 with about 100 people he knew and they were together pretty much all the way through. may be 10 or 12 died. most of not from violence, but disease or accident. when he got back to texas, almost everyone he knew in houston, texas was dead already and he realized thatat he was safer in the largest were in the history of the human race than he would have been at home in his bedom. that's the thing.
host: so, when easy rollins returns after world war ii and makes his way from then texas to los angeles, how is he treated? how is he treated in texas? how is he treated in los angeless? guest: racism was institutionalized in the south, but it's different in different states, but was still institutionalized. one thing is, there were no jobs he could get. whatever the learned in the war, whatever his talents were he was not able to get those jobs and texas or louisiana or alabama mississippi or anywhere else, so this is the first time. i can't make a decent living, i can't own anything that can't be taken away from me and so that's the biggest problem.m. still, in los angeles you have an extraordinarily racist police department and so the police will stop you if you are in the car
with a white woman they would definitely stop him. they could-- he represents something that that certain people want to hold out and are afraid of, also. there is a lot more opportunity. host: in los angeles? guest: any job you want, really almost any job you want you can get. no one's ever going to take away your property based on race. you will never have a sign saying whites only. they are saying we are very different. host: you talk about his migration from texasro to los angeles. this represents part of the great migration that's happening in our country. why did you want to make that part of the story? guest: because i'm from los angeles and the people in la, the black people in la on one of the most important streets, central avenue, where all of the major music of america either started there or moved through
their that these people's story had not been told. there is a giant part of los angeles history that had been left fallow, no one was going to talk about a right about and of course you don't exist unless you exist in fiction, so people like nonfiction, but they don't pick up history books, want to learn something, so it's better to talk about it in storyou. host: you write in "devil in a blue dress" all of them and john and half the people in a crowded roomm had migrated from houston after the work and some before that. california was like heaven for the southern nigro. people told stories of how you could eat off the streets. stories were true for the most part, but the truth was not like the dream, like it-- life is still hard in la and if you work everyday you still find yourself on the bottom. what were race relations likeke? guest: i think they were-- problematic race relations with
the police, but also in the subconscious and unconscious of americaun there was a notion foa very long time that the best thing to be was white, whatever that means. the best thing to be was to be inculcated with this year pain culture. there was something like you are better even if it didn't work hard you are better because of what you are, not what you knew. i think that if you are very smart, if you work chicano or black or asian, people would look down on you and thene they would make assumptions about what you couldn't couldn't do and if you did better than you should be able to there wasre anger and resentment, so that was a lot to go through and it was hard and listen, it's still hard today, but it was hard then for people to see what they were looking without
putting something on it that wasn't true. host: how is it for black men versus black women? guest: you know, listen, there's no versus.en there's no versus between black women and black menac. i think black men, people are more afraid of black men,or, more afraid of their anger and also more afraid of what has happened to them. the responses women at least people think it's usually not violent when something's been done bad to, but man it is, so black men have been kept out of the hero category. that's one of the things i feel, even in the greatest black literature in america of the 20th century, the black characters were less euros and more protagonists p, the people richard wright wrote about or do know anyone. you didn't have that person that you would say want to know the guy, want to be that guyha
, i want that guy to protect me. host: you right in the book that industry becomes the next plantation. what did you mean by that?id guest: i don't remember writing that. that was 28 years ago, but i think that people -- when i hear it i feel like i know that yeah, it's your labor being spent to make someone else rich. the interesting thing about that is i thinkth it was more true in the 40s and 50s that people of color sufferedr from working hard and not making enough. today in america, everyone suffers from it as wealth moves towards a very small group of people that own everything and they don't care what color you are. they don't care what gender you are. they will take advantage of you no matter what and i think america has responded to that. a lot of people are making a mistake he in
thinking it must be these other people who are not whites, it must be their fault it happened, but it's not. is the author of capitalism, unchecked capitalism. host: easy rawlins owns a home and his home is very important to himin. what you say with this concept of ownership because it's not just in that easy rollins series, it's fearless jones, small business owner with a book tour 1950s.n this concept of ownershipip, who has a, who doesn't and why is it important? guest: if you go back to the beginning of america, a citizen had to be a property owner. there's a political connection. there's an investment, little investment in the nation that you have a citizenship with and i think thatt' it's been true that if you are not a property owner, then you are migrants and if you are migrants then you're not that important. may be you flow. maybe people don't pay
attention to youon. maybe people will just make gerrymander you out of existence, but to own property especially for easy to own property that cannot be taken away from him, that this is my land. most people before the warre, that land mean something whether or not you raise cattle or you are growing cotton, it means something and the fact that he had a plot right here, that makes me a citizen. host: this is a mystery novel, crimes are committed and easy rollins has thoughts on the justice system. you wrote this an easy rollins voice. i thought it was wrong for a man to be murdered in a more perfect world i felt the killer should be brought to justice, but i didn't believe there was justicece for negroes. i thought there might be some justice for black mann if he had the money to greece it. money isn't a sure bet, but it's the closest to god i have ever seen in this world. guest: yes, i wrote that.
i thought it then and i think it now and i think that most people in america-- i think when i wrote this book and a period when this book eabout i think a lot of people thought there is justice in justice is not based on how much money you have or who represents you are help property owner you are, but now people look at it and think yeah, if i don't have money i'm not going to get a fair shake and if i don't have money and i'm black i'm really not going to get a fair shake and i think that it's a truism that black people in america ever since we have been here because we can dress property. but, as time has gone on many many more people have begun to understand it. first, they only understood it in their appreciation of our music and culture like the blues in certain elements of jazz and rhythm and blues, but as time has gone on its entered into literature and the general novel.
host: that's part of the motivation to write this book is to talk about the justice systet and did you choose the form of a mystery not because of that as well? guest: you know, i chose the form because i like mysteries and i read a lot of them in a like raymond chandler and ross macdonald etc., and once i started writing about it the itstice system just kind of appeared. it's not like it was my goal to write it outut and i think anyone reading my books would be able to make different decisions on things that have happened. you will say i think this was right or think this was wrong, so as a fiction writer i'm never trying to tell you what you should think. i will tell you an easy rollins thinks. i will take what raymond alexander thinks your car will tell you what the police who are stopping him think, but i'm not going to tell you what you should think. host: i watched on youtube a book review of one of the easy rollins books and the woman
getting the book review suggested to her audienceer, you really need to read the whole series and could mr. mosley-- from beginning to end because if you could pick up one book you don't know how easy rollins knows that i maytt or mouse or mama joe and she said could be-- could there be an index, could mr. mosley have an index. guest: i like it that she said that>> because one comment means like someone that's sees a book and they want to read and then you say you got to read all 14 of them and you go my gosh, after read 14 books and i barely had time to read one. that's one thing, but another thing is each book you understand. you may not knowot the events that led up to easy's relationship to mouse. however, you do know how he knows mouse, how he feels about him how mouse feels that easy.
you know all of that because i'm writing a novel, not a chapterec. host: you continue on with "devil in a blue dress" and you obviously focused on easy rollins in la, but your latest book, "down the river unto the sea" r takes place in new york with a former black nypd investigator and you are protagonist. what inspired you to write this story and about this city where you are today in new york? guest: you know, there was like a political spark that started me to write this story. i'm thinking about black men specifically eddie conway down in baltimore, maryland, or mia in pennsylvania, the man people are protesting about back on killed in san diego and also the guy that got killed in new orleans, i'm thinking about all a
response to oppression in a community that's usually not talked about were a guy will be walking down the street and police will stop him, search him and question him closely and then let them go and he walks three more blocks and two more policemen stop himwo and he goes through the same thing and as angry as this guy gets because he's just white-- walking on the street, as angry as he gets the estimates are you never expresses bettinger because if he does then something bad will happen to him. if you add to that guy a journalist or political activists, anyone who makes a movement, anyone who does that they get a target on their back on the front and both sides there is a target and they are barely likely to be hurt. so, what i wanted to do was create a detective who was a policeman and even though he is black you is a policeman and
so he's not going to feel sensitive about this man murdered that killed two policemen and is on death row. gbut, as he investigate the guys case and sees what happened he proves to himself beyond a shadow of doubt that this guy t yeah, he probably killed them, but they were definitely trying to kill him and it was as far as he can tell self-defense. then, what happens when you know something like that w and what kind of decisions do you make and that's what i wanted to do with this book is what i did. host: what inspired-- you set a little bit about the mile. remind our viewers who that isem? guest: he was a political activist, journalist in philadelphia who the police say got into a gunbattle s with the. he said he didn't. a policeman or two died and he was sentenced to death.
for me, like if you kill someone yeah, then you should, you know, pay with whatever the law has to say that's a trip to do, but if there are extenuating circumstancess then you at least have to see them. it's true of him, but it's true for a lot p of people. anyone watching this thing in new orleans when you say someone on top of someone with his knees holding him down and holding a gun and shooting him you say there something wrong with this picture. a policeman should never be doing that, never. if it does happen, then you have to wonder what everyone else is going to be thinking and feeling and how they will respond and that is what the novel addresses host: did you see him? guest: no. host: you did not? guest: no. host: how do you then: grab frm astoria or any store you try to operate into your writing?
guest: that story is our story. like i think more than anything else the guy was being interviewed, he lived in one complex here and there was another one here, public housing, two different gangs, but a policeman came and started bringing the children together, so the children of the case could at least play football together and they would slowly work some stuff outuf. one of the guys wase asked, he said as these children played what you think about this and he said it's kind of amazing to me that the police are helping. i'm a user to the police that they grab you, put me in handcuffs, beat me and throw me in jail. that's my relationship with the police. you know, but this is like a general knowledge and not just among black people, among chicago, all the different people and among white people in america that the police become people who are trying to force you
to fit inside an order that may not be conducive to your life and your lifestyle and because of that you have to write about it. down the river, even though it's about these black characters is about kind of like america and understanding america and goes back to the issue about how much money you have and who's protecting you and his taking of you and who feels that you are an enemy. host: your next book is john woman due out september. what is it about? guest: john woman is about a guy who is historian, but he's a host story and in his soul, sorcerers when he was a kid growing up. he kills a guy, self-defense, but he kills a guy and he completely re-creates himself so that who he
was he doesn't have the same name. he doesn't have the same birth certificate or doesn't have anything the same, but he becomes what he's done. he becomes a deconstructionist and its following him through this path ofhi the -- how he sees himself, how he sees the world around himmim, how he teaches and he discovers things about himself, one of the things he discovers is he's a sociopath and that has helped him in america become successful and, you know, one of the things i believe, i believe that if there is something wrong with you , if you are sociopath of any sortou you probably will be more successful in america than if you want host: how does publishers respond to your ideas that are not an easy rollins book? guest: oh, they hated.
i've had some a publicist. i go to a publisher and give them a couple mysteries i and then i sam going to write a book like "john woman" or unfortunate son or rl's dream, all these books i've written and so when i give them that the book they say no and they save you publish this book alright another mystery and they say okay so i publish that book, another mystery and then i have another book and they said no, no, no only mysteries so that i go to another publisher. it's gone on forever h b. host: you've written a lot of books as you have said, do the characters in the book reflect people you're likely to? guest: that's a hard question to ask because obviously it must in some way, but i don't write about myselfbo. i don't write about people i knowe. i don't write about my mother and my father, but i write about worlds that are experiences-- so, in a way, but mostly no.
host: who is raymond alexander and how did you come up with the idea of this character also noticed mouse? guest: mouse is an interesting character for me. when i was a kid my father had a friend who, he was just as crazy as mouse and he made a living doing lots of things, but one was hijacking liquor trucks. he would hijack a liquor truck and get like a whole bunch of cases of whiskey and he would bring one case to my father and said hold this for me for a week. i will come by and pick it up in a week.y guest: of course my father would put away and then maybe another party would happen so when a guy would come back there would only models left and he said how much do you call me, roy and my father would pay him for the two bottles. back i was inn a crap game in a barbershop and he got into an argument and the guy says, you zero me a nickel in the guy said i don't know you anything.
are paid everything and he would say you pay me right now and the guy said no and so he killed him, just a shot him right there in the barbershop. he was arrested and sent to prison for murder and spent the rest of his lifeis there. anyway-- i know my father knew this guy, but i was too young to remember himew. so, i don't remember him, don't pick about him, but the story sparked knowledge for me mouse is a very different character, butar it comes from that story host: that seeing the youtube review of your book, a woman asked if you would make a book about raymond alexander, maybe write a book or two about him. guest: you know raymond is a pure sociopath like for instance john woman is not a peer sociopath. coupons inside the system for most of the things he does and he
just-- certain set of circumstances happen, he's going to go way outside the box, but only then. mouse lives outside the box. if you are sociopath living outside the box-- box it's not interesting because you know what he's going to do, but i'd never had a story pop up in my head about raymond all by himself. host: jackson blue, who is he based on? guest: jackson blue has a lot of my characteristics and him. they are both very smart. they really like the sedentary intellectual pursuits, reading, writing, thinking, debating. jackson blue is, you know he knows everything about computers before computers know them themselveslv and the like writing about those characters because it's rare, i mean, so many
things are not written about black men, but one of them is this guy's a genius. he can do anything. he's also really a coward, i mean, he's afraid of his own shadow and his shadow-- he's completely frightened of it. i like that also because not everyone has to be big and strong and courageous. he's small and a scrawny and afraid of anythingg, and i also like the character, especially because he's also a genius. .. he only kept books he was
going to read twice. >> look at your bookshelf, 12 books that you haven't looked at in 12 years. they are not doing anything on your shelf but if you give them to a used bookstore or library or put them in a box, people will put them up and read them. they are meant to be read, not to sit on shelves. >> host: why is it important? >> guest: reading is important because it is the closest we have to active thinking. i love music, i love the film into movies but those things are much more passive as a rule. when you are reading you are actually creating the images you are reading about, the thoughts and ideas and systems of thought.
when you are reading like that, your mind is getting exercise that it doesn't get doing anything else, and being educated by somebody close to you, parents or a boss is concerned about. >> host: is there a message you are sending about education and importance of reading? robbins, needs to read more, wants to drop out of high school, you need to explain to me what you read in your own words. jackson blue is a reader. >> no competing with jackson -- if you didn't start off like him you will not need to like him but it is an interesting thing to talk about and to support that the mind is a
really important sphere and we have to pay attention to that end there are only certain ways to do it. they are brutish, primal, and also i like reading. will and aerial durrant's history of the world is interesting to me. i have always known in my life really intelligent black men who could read and discuss and play with other people. everybody should be writing about it. somebody says to be a writer you have to read, i'm not sure that is true.
the greatest lineage of the west. the telling of stories is more important for a writer, that doesn't mean reading is important, doesn't make you a writer. >> host: you wrote that the librarian and easy robbins comes into the library to get help from the librarian, catcher in the ride, a scholar, do you like the book, and latino kid, how are they supposed to relate? >> if i had his money i would be happy. he killed himself because i
don't understand why he killed himself. that is a notion, i don't have any limit on what you should read. what you like or don't like, who knows what it is. love reading charles dickens or the idiot, fine. you should read what you love. if you open a book and the story draws me and then read it. if it is a comic book, fine. if it is george elliott, fine. i don't care. >> host: another character throughout the series, who is
she? >> guest: that woman, that strengths and weaknesses black women had to carry since they got dragged over, children they can't keep or control, lives they have to hold together whether they control what is around them or not, a strength that defined the world around them. it is not all black women but anime is that ideal women, and why she loves both of them. the problem is she loves miles more and he is more of a problem. you can't help who you love. >> host: mama joe. >> guest: a mystical and spiritual moment that a lot of
us have and create because without it we become less, if i can reach a place you can't understand, that gives me grounds, like owning property because i understand something about the world. >> host: after devil in a blue death, you wrote about the moral targets of los angeles in the early 50s, blacklisting, official policy and racial tensions boiled, what were the political, legal and moral carpets at that time? >> guest: my mother was jewish,
born jewish and her family had come around 1910 to new york when they migrated to los angeles. these people were people who understood the plight of black people in america because they had almost the same experience in europe, lived in ghettos, people hung them, burned them, called them a different race, excluded them from society in general. a lot of them because of that were part of the revolution, behind the revolution. the revolution didn't like them but they were part of creating and one of these characters is a guy living in los angeles who decided to give secrets that
america has to everybody and because of that he was being run down. he wasn't somebody, somebody who had done what he thought was right. the government thought it was wrong, it was against the law and they got involved in what was happening to that guy and his daughter. >> host: what is resonating? what is happening at this time? >> guest: that is the thing. we hated the russians in the late 30s and as soon as stalin realized hitler didn't really like him, he made a deal with them and they became our allies and a lot of people supported russia, russia's heroic battle in germany but then as the 50s came the same people became a
great target. maybe been friends with somebody who might have one day done it, were really impressed by mccarthy and almost everyone. those people were the first white americans to understand how you could be singled out, tortured, arrested, imprisoned, kept from having jobs, for someone you believe in. >> host: how is this impacting african-americans? >> guest: some very famous ones, harry belafonte had a problem, his friends did. if you weren't successful it really - the house un-american activities calling on a janitor who had the communist manifesto in his pocket, they didn't get
any political currency. if you had an important job, important position, impacted many political impact, then you were treated poorly. most people went all over them. >> host: race relations shifting at this point, in the 50s and 60s. >> guest: the thing about america, they are always shifting but never gets old. it is shifting, shifting, people wandering around saying i am white, doesn't make sense to say you are white. in europe there were no white
people. in britain, there were ten races, really it goes on and on, spanish, greeks, scandinavians didn't think they were the same race as the greeks, in the same race, they came to america, oppressed, wanted to kill the indians because they own the land, it was theirs so they need to get rid of them and enslaved black people to build the land because they had so-called red people to slaughter. so-called black people do a lot of the worst kind of labor. they needed a way. that is the only way it makes
sense, if you have blue eyes or green eyes or brown eyes, what kind of hair or body, different physically but so what? that for me is what is most important. the so-called white people, we have a common history and common language, these people over here are something else. unconsciously that stays with you. it is impossible to get better, both of those things are true. there are no truly black people are truly white people, there's just various shades as we relate. and to say things are shifting or changing, things get better,
people make laws, but still underneath it, there is a problem that can always as was the case of the jews in europe fall backward. >> host: i want to invite our viewers to join us
in this conversation. walter mosley on our special "in depth" fiction addiction. 748200, 748-8201 as we make our way through 50 books and he has written some nonfiction as well. we would love you to join us in this conversation. i asked the question, and seen more black men of authority at
this time. >> he is seeing it, but recognizing what you have to give up in order to move into that level of the story. as easy as the guy who does favor, nobody telling him who
you can do favors for. and what he is doing on a case-by-case level. he can do what is right and i think he recognizes people have power, have to give up some of their choice. it is the same for him. we still believe in the basic untruths of it, they never get
solved. >> host: the backdrop of the book is the church. during this time, what role does the church and the preacher play? >> guest: in the entire world, the mark, the more religion takes up a primary role in your life. you need an absolute form of organization to hope for a better time and need people who will organize around you so everybody will get food and it doesn't always happen. in the black community we were so shoved together so tightly, one of the only ways to be organized. we didn't have a political organization because you had no representation outside the
community. the church becomes one of the strongest forms of us being able to take care of ourselves. >> host: how did it influence your life? were your parents religious when you were growing up? >> guest: they said we really discussed religion, at the same time parents worked for the board of education in los angeles, a private baptist school, a lot of money then and all black kids and teachers taught african-american history in the 50s and they like me. the most important thing for a child education is you are loved, you would think did they
learn math, english, first they felt loved and cared for and felt apart from the outside of things and they knew that wouldn't happen to me, public schools and private school. >> host: what impact did that have? impacting who you are today? >> i'm sure it did but i don't know how. i was never religious, never believed in anything. got little bible verses, i loved it. i don't know. the biggest impact happened, my childhood friends, that was very important. if you can think, it is not a
novel. and it is difficult to know what those things are. >> carries over -- alcoholism. they are struggling with addiction. you wrote in the later book liquor shines when the light hits it reminiscent of precious things like jewels and gold. with give living thing capable of any motion you are and whiskeys solid tighter than most levers can. >> it is true. a lot of people will agree with that. i need to self medicate but i was really - i drank so much, 16 to 21. i almost died twice but started
again, i quit for 40 years. i don't want to die, it is such a danger, it can destroy you. it has potential to destroy you and also my father drank every day, because he drank there were people he didn't kill. absolutely sure. >> host: why do you say that? >> guest: he was a really proud man, he could do almost anything, very social people. 70s and 40s, he was treated -- talked down to, pushed aside by people who weren't as good as
he was. >> host: >> guest: maybe not alcohol. >> guest: about 2 go to these guys. but i talked to my father -- might have killed him. he never drank when he went to work, when he went home, true for so many people, so many drugs and the issue is how we live our lives, not the way human beings should live. the whole idea, i wake up every day at a certain time, my kids go somewhere far away, they work really hard and to ensure
a good life. this is not the kind of way people should live. we live in a society where you create enough that everybody has a little something. the maintenance protections are there, some people will work harder, some people build a second story on their house but the idea that there was the song, i know my soul to the company store, that is true for most people in this country that i live in. i'm not in any other country, deeper in debt every day. that is what he says, another day older, deeper in debt. that is the problem a lot of
people have, and smoked up, do opioids, it dumped the pain. >> host: why did you quit? >> because i kept almost dying. on the side of a mountain, i will stop now. >> host: why did you start? >> guest: i don't want to do it anymore. and drinking to myself into oblivion. >> host: 12 steps toward political revelations, how it relates to political oppression and consumers. >> guest: in that book, the system tells us these are the realities, this is how you should be, how you should be at
work, in relationships because to your betters there's another set, i don't remember the steps, but there's a system out there that doesn't care about us in general. we have to understand that and control that. >> it and that being people who pay the politicians give them the money to be in a situation of control, i didn't see a lot of money, $10,000 to senatorial candidate and i just did, somebody asked me to, and i
will do it and they said we are having lunch with the candidates. there are ten people who gave $10,000 and they are going to have lunch and talk to this person. i realize what would i get if i gave $100,000 or $1 million, my power should be no more than my vote. that is the ideal america. my power is my vote. your power is your vote. $100,000 and if you are a corporation or rich person that $100,000 doesn't mean anything, just give it. that person knows when i need reelection, all these other people who vote, that -- not saying anything new here.
the problem with america people confuse democracy with capitalism. they are two different systems. they are both fine but need to be separate. money shouldn't enter into my government. they should take money from me but in order -- through taxes and stuff, not donating or helping or letting them use my airplane or the job i give them after they get voted out. >> host: there is a lot more to go through, topics, but let's listen to what our viewers have to say. let's go to stephen richmond, virginia. good afternoon. >> caller: i have been waiting for the longest time to say hello to you. i'm one of your best readers. my question, a wonderful
opportunity to listen to you on the air and talk to you, have you given much effort to get into other writing styles, someone who does alternate history or things of that nature or things that are more into science fiction? >> guest: i have written 14 books of science fiction, at least we to literary novels, 24 mysteries, 5 or 6 books of nonfiction. and fellow mystery writer named gary phillips to develop a western series if anybody wants to buy it, i have written erotica. i have written almost every genre i want to write in.
i haven't written a romance novel but i don't really want to. so if you look at the different books, there is a lot of science fiction. one is called 47. it is about a slave on a plantation in the 1840s who meets this alien and forms a bond with this guy and how his life goes forward. >> host: we are going to talk about science fiction books. always outnumbered, always outgunned, futureland in 2001, 2005, 47, 3 in 2005, in 2009 you wrote the long fall, 2015, inside a silver box and as we
talked about, this is not science fiction but your new book at the 13. "down the river unto the sea". eugene, what state is that? >> caller: can you hear me? >> host: yes, go ahead. >> caller: walter mosley, thank you, for so many years i have had some of your books and you have always been an inspirational person to me because i always wanted to write a book and we share the same last name so when i look at your books on the shelves it inspires me so much. although fictional, the truth is coming out what you are putting out and what you are saying through all your novels. is tight.
the most important thing that really inspired me was when my father received a congressional gold medal and gave me a base by which to write something i felt was a great substance. .. at it ever expense have to tell you, feel like i'm moving towards the downstroke with the end notes and the bibliography. i just want to thank you for your issue operation all these years -- your inspiration all these years. >> guest: well, thank you very much. and also i'd like to say that maybe you don't need this now but a while ago, a lot of times people ask me -- you're not but people ask me, how die write a novel? and -- how do i you know, it's only about maybe an hour's worth of talking that could explain that. but, of course, usually i don't have an hour to explain it. but i did write a book called this year you write your novel, and that book is everything i know about writing novels. and also i just want to say the
truth in fiction, i think there's actually more truth in fiction than there is in nonfiction. because in nonfiction you keep editing things out. you talk about a real event, but you keep editing things out. people usually only talk about one side of a story when there might be six or seven different sides of it. so i appreciate that. though i think it's a big challenge to write nonfiction, i love the people that do, but it's really hard. >> host: vicki in paris, -- in perris, california. >> caller: hi, hello. a pleasure to talk to you, mr. mosley. i love your books because it brings back mymy childhood of living and visiting my sister during the summer in l.a. in the early '60s, late '60s. but my question to you is have you thought making a movie out of black betty and maybe getting a director like ava duvernay,
spike lee, john singleton, something like that? >> guest: yeah, you know, i would love to make more movies about ez rollins. it's not an easy thing to do, no pun intended. i try, i keep trying, you know, doing television shows or films. you know, i get to a certain point, and then it doesn't work. i figure there's like a nine month window with black panther having been made of talking about a black male hero in film. and so i'm going to try again with ez. i won't start with black betty, but it would be good, and ava would be good for it, by the by. >> host: how did devil in a blue dress get made into a movie? >> guest: you know, a lot of people were interested. i finally met a woman who had just started in the business at that time named donna gilotti.
donna knew the right moves to make, and then -- and at the same time, carl franklin was looking for me, and so, you know, we all kind of got together, and the film got made. it was, you know, it was such a great film. alll these great actors, you know, don cheadle, jennifer beals, tom sizemore. it was really a perfect moment. yeah, just looking for another perfect moment. >> host: did you have a role in the making of the movie? >> guest: not in that one. i wrote and m executive produced always outnumbered, always outgunned which we did for hbo, laurence fishburne, cicely tyson, nat city cole -- natalie cole. iar was an associate producer. i knew well enough whatever he would say, yes, carl, that sounds good. you know, he was going to do it anyway, and that was good. >> host: the caller mentioned black betty. blackut betty, white butterfly,
they -- at the centerf of these two books are black women. what is happening at this time with black women and their sexuality, and has that changed? >> guest: you know, black sexualities has always been -- sexuality has always been a dominant moment in our lives, and it'sy also been really, really hidden. you know, i think that black women have e often experienced e fact9 that their sexuality has been taken away from them in the general culture. so you see, you know, hair spray for blond people. [laughter] and you'reean going, well, whats that? and appreciating beauty is appreciating beauty based on, you know, some other culture and some other place. which, by the by, most white mihm didn't fit either -- white women didn't fit either. but at least you b could preten. i think that black women have always had the weight of the community on their shoulders,
and, you know, talking about sexuality, children, you know? they were, you know, responsible for children. they were responsible for a kind of life that the rest -- that cameha easy to the rest of amera in, like, the '50s and the '60s, you know? and, of course, i mean, in my work black women have a prominent role, but i'm not -- i never say that i'm speaking for them, you know? and, you know, the great thing about literature, you know, in the '60s on up at least new the ' '80s black literature was dominated by black women. so you have alice walker, toni morrison, terry mcmillan and many others. and they really, you know, controlled literature for a long time. black menon did in the '40s and '50s, and then black women took over, and now we're kind of trying to figure out how to
share it. >> host: you write white butterfly, ez rollins says i was on the warpath against women. >> guest: it doesn't sound good, but i don't remember what i was writing in that. >> host: you also talked about, ez rollins talks about not learning to respect women. >> guest: well, i think that's a big thing about -- in the community, was there were armed camps between men and women. and, you know, men, you know, were angry at women because they, women seemed to be asking them to do things in a way that was humiliating them. and women were angry at men because they didn't seem to stand up for what the women needed to keep, you know, home and hearth together. i think there was a lot of that conflict, you know? but at the same time, it was great love and understanding, you know, that, you know, you
have a guy who says it's better if i'm not home because at least you'll get public assistance. youc know? i'm with you, i can't get a job, but you can't get public assistance. i leave and you can. there's a lot of that. but there's also a lot of people who get along really, really well. i think in most of the conflicts in most of the world most people opdon't hate each other. it's these groups of people who get really angry and they're very volatile and people listening to them and not the reality. >> host: what are your thoughts on or what are you trying to say in these ez rollins books about marriage and marriage in the black community? >> guest: well, you know, i don't know. i wouldn't say that, you know, somebody asked me to comment on it, i wouldn't have anything to say about it. i say, you know, marriage is an interesting institution, and it hasn't reallyng evolved with the rest of our cultures, you know?
before world war i, knowledge doubled every century all the way back. world war i it doubled, and it kept getting faster and faster. knowledge doubles every ten months now, i think, is the term. so this is why everything we do is almost obsolete before we get halfway into it. because now we're doing something else, now we're doing something else.e the way we can work, well, i used to drive a taxi, and i had a medallion, but that doesn't work anymore because uber came in and took over. and those are just the mild things that are taking us over. robotics, they're take over labor. so i think that marriage in america in general doesn't have the same place that it did a century ago. and so, but it's hard to change that notion. it's hard to change it. it's hard for black people, but it's hard for everybody, so i don't -- i would never say that i'm trying to comment on the
institution of marriage because before i finish the sentence, it will have changed. >> host: let's hear from james who's in philadelphia. good afternoon, james. >> caller: yes, good afternoon to you, mr. mosley. i want to say up front i met you at temple university, i think it was around 2009 right when you were on a panel. and you actually signed a book for me, actually. it was future land. and my comment to you is that i don't know if there's any other writing like you writing today, andd the thing i'm amazed about what you write is the ease in which you are moved through genres. it's iron you can what the -- ironic what the first caller said writing science fiction because i've read many of your science fiction books. i read the wave, and i've been recently enjoying some of your crosstown to oblivion series,
particularly stepping son p and thee gift of fire -- steppingstone and the gift of fire. i love those two books, those two short stories. and the other comment i'd like to make is the ez roll lins book -- rollins books mouse, to me, i often times wonder if it was mouse, how would mouse deal with some other fictional characters? i'd like to see if mouse -- and maybe you can get together with -- [inaudible] sees how would mouse deal with hawk. [laughter] that would be veryuld interesti. [laughter] yeah. iin think hawk is a bad man, bui think mouse would give him a run for his money. [laughter] but i just want to say i'm a great admirer of yours, and i think you're, in my mind today, maybe the best fiction writer writing today. >> guest: why, thank you so much, i appreciatean that. i'm going to keep that with me. and, you know, listen, i love to write in genres, i love to create characters who i think have a strong place in the
world. hawk does, certainly. in the spencer stories. but, you know, that's the thing that you want. and also i want to write about heroes because i know that there are sony many heroes coming outf our community, and those heroes need to be heard, they need to be paid attention to. >> host: we herald as a comment, a facebook comment from one of our viewers, michael ballard, who wrote in. i believe you once said that while you can't write a decent poem to save your life, you continue to write poems and read the poetry of others because it informs your fiction writing. could you elaborate on that? >> guest: i think understanding poetry is the one of the basic requirements for writing fiction. that poetry does everything. it does metaphor, it does simile, it does you choosing words, not five or six words, but one word that says what you
mean. it brings things together in a form that's abstract but feels real. poetry is the most important thing that we writers need to know and understand. >> host: why? >> guest: it's the original, it's like the original language. if there was one language for everybody that started in the beginning, it would be poetry. because that's the way we understand the world, and that's the way we express the world, you know? we see, you know, material, but we're thinking manager that's beyond that -- thinking something that'sia beyond that material. and then we bring those two things together, you know, the pedestrian and the divine. >> host: another facebook comment, daryl burton, i have a question that i would like you to ask, were you encouraged to write a nonfiction book by your publisher, a friend or was it your idea? >> guest: almost everything is my idea. the only thing i get encouraged to write is another ez rollins novel.
after n that, no one's trying to encourage me to do anything. >> host: are you bored with ez rollins? >> guest: no, it's just that i can't write it. if i got bored, i would have stopped a long time ago. >> host: tell our viewersrs abot black betty, what it's about. >> guest: black betty was a book about a woman who was living a really hard life and was really hard set in that life. i mean, beset in that life. and i was thinking from the beginning i was going to write a story about a woman whose life was harder and harder and more difficult, and then she would at the -- she would die at the end, and it would be kind of a tragedy. but i realized somebody who love ares so much and is so connected to her world, death would be a relief. and that her survival is more tragic than her death.
and that wasan the whole purpose of that, of me writing that book. and, you know, one of the most successful ez rollins novels. i'm to liking the new ones, charcoal joe, i thought, was pretty good. >> host: why do you say that? >> guest: well, g it -- you've t more of an insight into mouse. ez, rather than being -- working with mouse to do something, works with fearless jones from another series. and, you know, it was just, it was so -- it was really, you really began to understand what it would be like if you had an extraordinarily successfulin blk man, whether he's a criminal or not. i mean, most extraordinarily successful people have some crimes in their closet. and you see how hard his life is. and in seeing that and ez being involved with this guy, you also see how powerful ez is. as a matter of fact, ez finds out how powerful he is which he
never really knew before -- >> host: yeah, explain that evolution. >> guest: well, you know, at one point he's, you know, he's talking, you know, to charcoal joe, and he's saying, you know, says so have you always been trying to lie to me, to mistreat me, to try to get me killed? and joe, you know, listen, ez, i would never mess w with you. you're the most dangerous man in los angeles. and he says, what are you talking about? be he says, i'm talking about your friends. christmas black, red bird, mouse. these are the most dangerous men i know of. i wouldn't cross any of them, and they're all behind you, you know? and it becomes, like, ez's sociability in his world has given him a great deal of power. it doesn't give him money, doesn't give him all this other stuff, but it gives him power which is, you know, it's an interesting thing. people, you know, some people wield great power, but they
aren't successful in that, in their capitalistic endeavors. >> host: you write at the gunning of black betty on the -- at the beginning of black betty on the first page, it's 1961. thee world was changing, and a black man in america had the chance to be a black man for the first time in hundreds of years. >> guest: yeah. i y think that at that point, yu know, we're entering the '60s, people are being, are getting educations. you know, it used to be in the '40s and before you could, you could study for a ph.d. at harvard if you were or black, but they would never give you a ph.d. there was always, you know, something being held back, something being held away. and in the '60s, the opportunity was there. i think that the problem is, is that it was still harder to i achieve your goal -- to achieve your goals, and your goals had to bead smaller, you know? and you had to, you know, act in
a certain way. it's like madam curie. they asked her to give back one of her nobel prizes because, you know, she was having an affair. and she told 'em, why should i give it back? all you guys have affairs. i'm keeping my nobel prize. but there was an expectation on heras as there are on black peoe in america today, certainly in the '60s, that still hold people down and back. because even the fact of ez saying it means it's something different, right? >> caller: walter, it's clarence major, how are you? >> guest: oh, hi, clarence, how you doing? what's going on? >> caller: thanks for the good word about poetry, and congratulations on your new novel. [laughter] i wanted to ask you if you could talk a little bit about your writing habits, you know, maybe do you write in the morning or in the afternoon or, you know, at night?
or, you know, what are your writing habits? >> guest: okay. i can do that. thanks a lot, clarence. nice to talk to you. i write -- i see drugs, like when i -- i see creation, like when i say the creation in your head is your conscious mind. i think creation comes from a practice not unlike psychoanalysis. i mean to say you spend every day, me every day two to three hours writing. that writing is, you know, like free association. things are coming up, i'm writing them, i'm writing. i'm putting them in order in the story, but i'm writing them. and then the next morning i write and and the next morning i write. that 22, 21 hours in between those times of writing, all of this stuff is happening in parts of my head that i have no awareness of. but when i get up that next day, there are new things there. new things have come to the
surface and i say, oh, okay, i'll write this and i'll write this and i'll write that. and i've written almost every day for the last 28 years. every once in a while if i'm sick or if i have to get up at 3:00 and get on an airplane, i don't do it. every other time i wake up in the morning, i write for probably three hours, sometimes only two. but it's just every day, every day, every day. and i find that every day that i write is a day that i get deeper into my understanding of that larger story that i'm trying to tell. >> host: when you're not writing, how are you collecting your thoughts, your stories? >> guest: i just, i don't worry about them. when i'm not writing, it's happening in the back of my head. like -- and it's hard to explain. so everybody i talk to about it i say, look, just give it 100 days. start writing today and every day from now for the next 100 days write for just an hour, maybe an hour and a half every day, just write. and you will see that the way that you think and the way that
you're organizing and the way that plots come together get better and better and better. and it happens over the years too. >> host: you write in your books when you're describing different characters, you describe their personal features and how that reflects their personality. do you study people? >> guest: not on purpose. i don't like -- it's not like you're making those -- you see, the idea -- and really it's not an argument, but it's an argument i'm making. to say, well, to you people is kind of a thing about consciousness. are you consciously -- so it's like you already have the structure you need, you just need to fill in, you know, the data, you know? oh, 5-11 or 7-2 or 3-1 or a red or a blue or a pink or a sky or the smallness or the floor.
but it's not that. it's that you see all these things and you experience all these things as they're kind of floating around in your head. and you write for, let's say, three hours, and the stuff that you've written kind of reaches out to these things that are in your head that you haven't really thought about. you might have noticed them, but you didn't study them, you just noticed. and, you know, what whiskey looks like when light's shining through it. it's not something i studied, oh, i can translate that into this. it translated in the back of my mind, and then when i start writing, it came out. >> host: tom in culpepper, virginia. >> caller: hello, mr. mosley. me and my family are great fans of yours. i wanted to ask a question. i heard that you were thinking about doing a series. do you think you can see denzel washington and --
[inaudible] continuing the series of violence? >> guest: no. that's such a good question because i can see it, and so i did ask them, and they said, no. so it's not happening. >> host: why? what was the reason? >> guest: they just said no. [laughter] you know? >> host: you can see it. why can you see it? >> guest: well, because really right now they've aged the right amount. so if i did, for instance, charcoal joe, mouse and easy would be the same age that denzel and donald would be. so i would love that. but they have their own careers, they're doing over things. you know, denzel's been doing all of these plays and doing some very interesting movies. i really like his most recent film. and don is the same thick, you know, produce -- same thing, producing, acting, moving further out into the world.
so, you know, that's something they did, and they did it, now they're moving on. i don't have, i don't hold anything against them for doing it, and, you know, i think i might go back to the beginning for easy anyway to try to make a film right now start again from the beginning with devil in a blue dress and build from there. so i'll need, you know, younger actors. >> host: so this vision, what are you describing here? one movie that covers the series? >> guest: oh, no. one movie that will just be devil. and, you know, it's almost 30 years ago now. it was 25 years ago, and, you know, so we could do a remake of it by this point. and i think that that would be a good thing, you know? so that's what i'm thinking right now. we'll see if i can make my thoughts into reality. >> host: let's hear from audrey who's in richmond, virginia. >> caller: hello? >> host: hi, audrey, you're on the air. >> guest: you're on the air. [laughter] >> caller: hello. mr. mosley --
>> guest: hi. >> caller: -- first, i'd like to say, like everyone else has said, i'm a great fan. and i'm particularly happy about your are comments you made earlier about readers and how important reading is, because i think i may have in common with you a great love of just reading stories. i'm not a writer at all. my question for you though about your stories is about a character of yours called leonid mcgill. and i was just wondering what made you write him and how he involved. he seemed -- he evolved. he seems sort of a distillation of some of the other characters. how did he come about? >> guest: well, you know, actually a guy, a publisher of mystery works and the owner of a bookstore, otto pensler, he came to me and said i'm doing a collection of short stories. this one's about dangerous women. and i said, okay. and i started writing this story. i had the title first called
karma, and it was about a young woman who was trying to get revenge against an older private detective who had framed her father for something, and he got killed. you don't know that at first, but she's trying to frame the father -- frame leonid mcgill, what he becomes, for something he'd done to her father 20 years before. and she almost succeeds in destroying him, but she doesn't. she dies because parking lot of the thing is -- part of the thing is she kills herself, and she's going to blame leonid for her death. but it doesn't happen. and leonid realizes that his whole life he's been doing the wrong thing and that he now has to turn his life around and start to do the right thing. the interesting thing about leonid, he's a current, he's today. so he doesn't run into the same kind of troubles that easy rollins or fearless jones will run into. and so it's, it's a different
view because the relationships of black people to the world is very different than it was, you know, in the '30s and the '40s, '50s and '60s. and i really enjoy writing about current stories. i'm writing, actually, i'm writing a short story, if you call "the heart of darkness" a short story -- also for otto, because he wants to publish one of mine. and it's also going to be about leonid. >> host: wayne in texas city. [inaudible] can you hear me? >> guest: yep. >> caller: oh, okay. you are a new discovery for me. i'm really enjoying watching you -- [inaudible] i'm probably -- [inaudible] >> guest: i'm not sure.
>> caller: oh -- [inaudible] benjamin was a jewish plantation owner at bell chase plan talkings in new orleans, and he was a member of -- plantation in norse, and he was a member of -- [inaudible] secretary of war, secretary of state and attorney general of the confederacy under -- >> guest: sorry. like, i do know him, but i guess i lost the name. all right, yeah, go on. [inaudible] anyway, you're probably also familiar with salacious -- [inaudible] >> guest: you know, i'm -- me and names is a very troubled thing, you know? i didn't know i knew about benjamin until i went back to my studying of the civil war. so maybe i am, but why don't you tell me. >> caller: okay. it's a black jew from ethiopia. they were moved to the -- >> guest: oh, yeah, sure. okay. yeah, yeah, yeah.
>> caller: okay. so here you've got a black plantation owner outside new orleans as a member of the confederate cabinet, and he goes to an auction in new orleans and buys a black slave, unknown to him. and the -- [inaudible] from ethiopia. so now you've got a black jewish plantation owner, unknown to him he owns a black jewish slave -- [inaudible] escape from slavery. anyway, just an idea i wanted to share with you. >> guest: i like that. i like that story. >> host: how much research do you do for your books in history and papers, the newspapers, etc. >> guest: i'll tell you a story about the first time i was asked that question and how sad it made me. [laughter] i was making devil in a blue
dress, and jennifer beals called me and said i want to have dinner with you, i want to ask you some questions. and, you know, i love jennifer beals. and she asked me that same question, how much research, you know, do you do, and how do you do the research, because i want to research my character. and i really tried to figure out how i could lie, but in the end, i couldn't. i just said i don't research, you know? when i finish writing a book, i'll go through it to make sure the things aren't wrong, like in 47 i wanted to make sure that the cotton gin already existed when i'm writing the story, and it did. but as a rule, you know, function is more -- fiction is more today about character than it is about things. you know? i'm not trying to educate people about things, i'm trying to talk about how people emotionally deal in that cultural and technological world they find themselves. >> host: yeah. and i want to read part of six
easy pieces before you respond, maybe explain sort of the premise of six easy pieces. there's still oppression. this is now the early '60s in l.a., etta may, one of the female characters, responds to easy's comment that perhaps a young, talented black musician could make it just like louie armstrong did. and she responds, for every one of armstrong, you've got a string of black boys' graves going around the block. you know how the streets eat up our men, especially if they've got dreams. >> guest: yeah. but that's true. i mean, this is true for everybody, if you're born in poverty, everything militates against you succeeding. and if you accept that militant attitude toward your advance, then you'll survive. but if you have dreams that aim
beyond that, so much more will be against you than it is against, you know -- there's already a lot against people having dreams, but it's so much more that a lot of people die from it. you know, and in all kinds of ways, i mean, even people who are, like, at the pinnacle of success. fats waller was on tour going around the country on a train. he had a diabetic attack, and the hospital wouldn't take him, so he died. he was 39 years old, you know? this is, you know, you get killed, you know, by all kinds of things. sometimes somebody shoots you, burns you, lynch you, sometimes they just close the door in your face. >> host: what's the emotion that you're getting at? you're just talking about -- you write about emotions. >> guest: yeah. well, the emotion is the -- i think it could be a lot of different things, but for me it's the heroism of the character, the person who's going to, tries to get beyond where he is or where she is to make it to a better place for
themselves which is going to help a whole bunch of other people. and it's going to help them no matter what, whether they succeed or don't succeed, the fact in trying gets them there. >> host: let's take robert who's in philadelphia. robert, go ahead. >> caller: hello, mr. mosley. >> guest: hello. >> caller: hello. i have been an admirer of yours for a number of years. i am a struggling fiction writer, and as a retired social worker, i find fiction an incredible release especially since i had to immerse myself into -- intimately -- into the struggles of other people for a number of years. and i see that very much in your work. but as a writer, i fine that reading is as much important if not more important than writing. so i was wondering what you read
and what authors have been most influential to you. >> guest: well, you know, it's such a -- that's always such an interesting question, you know? i always start off by saying that, you know, if you have this young black woman who says, you know, who do you read. first, she says, well, phyllis wheatley because people usually don't know who she is, then they say zora neale hurston because they do know, then she says alice walker, maya angelou,ny morrison -- tony morrison, but the reason they tell you all those writers is because they want you to think of their work in relation to this great work over here. but, you know, the truth is that woman, when she was a child, it was nancy drew that most influenced her. because when you're a child, reading is an amazing thing. it's real in your brain. you're completely transported
into the world of fiction. it's, there are no more words being printed, they're actually images and things happening. that same girl reading "beloved," you know, would either kill herself or her mother because "beloved" is a tough story for a child. so the same thing's true for me. i think it started off reading comic books, and then later on it was reading people like donald goens and langston hughes, old books like robert louis stevenson. so it's not so much the writers or, you know, anything real that they were telling me, it was me enjoying the adventure of the book. and then when i grew older, i loved the idea of telling the same kind of stories that, you know, in different ways that so much transported me. so i think that that's the way that i would say that reading has at least impacted if not
influenced how i write. >> host: well, we're going to pick up on that point here in a little bit, but we're about a little over the halfway mark here in our conversation on this sunday afternoon, so we're going to take a short break. so hang on the line if you've dialed in, keep dialing in with your questions or comments for walter mosley. we're going to take a short break. when we come back, we'll come back to your conversations, and want to show you -- as we go to this break -- the trailer from "devil in a blue dress," 1995, directed by carl franklin. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ >> hi, easy. >> l.a. was a world of sunshine at his shadows. >> hey there, how you doing, baby? >> black and white. >> we got no work here. >> sorry, fella. >> my name's not fella, my name is ezekiel rollins.
>> kind of what you do. >> i'm looking for somebody. >> she been gone two weeks. see, that man has a predilection for the company of negroes. >> he thought he knew how to play the game. >> any of y'all seen a white girl by the name of dahlia, something like that? >> my name is daphne. you can't get none of that tonight. >> until he stepped into a world -- >> why don't you tell me about your friend. >> -- where there are no rules. >> why you arresting me? >> what is going on? >> she's not going to be waking up, ezekiel. >> he's looking for a woman no one wants found. >> was there anyone with you, a young lady named daphne monet, perhaps? >> the chief of police, close personal frend of mine. -- friend of mine. >> and getting in deeper than he ever expected. >> this is daphne monet. you're looking for me. i don't know if i should think of you as a friend or as a
private dick. >> surrounded by lies. >> you can trust me, mr. rollins. i am an ex-mayor and, luckily for you, a friend of the negro. >> and seduced by a killer. >> easy rollins is searching. >> not very smart talking about the business. >> too much going on for me to give a damn about what you think is smart. >> to be true. >> don't lie to me! start my car, keep it hot, i'm coming out. >> get her. >> no! >> we going to the police. >> yeah, why don't you scream, huh? >> no! >> from the academy award-winning producers of philadelphia and the silence of the lambs, academy award winner denzel washington, "devil in a blue dress." a carl franklin film. >> a look now at some of the >> a look now at some of the books being published this week. southh carolina republican senator tim scott and congressman trey gowdy detail their friendship and time in
congress in "unified." in "eunice," eileen mcnamara explores the life of eunice kennedy shriver. thehi trump white house shares ronald kessler's interviews with president trump and members of his administration. timothy snyder reports on the rise of authoritarianism around the world in "the road to unfreedom." and neuroscientist barbara lipska recalls her experiences surviving brain cancer. also, "hunting "el chapo"" chronicles the eight-year hunt to capture the mexican drug kingpin, elle chap poe. michael honey in "to the promised land." journalist elise saw roth reports on how america handles mental illness. and andrew yang looks at how technologyl is displacing jobs
and impacting the economy in "the war on normal people." look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for many of the authors in the near future on booktv on c-span2. >> i'm going to read to you from "all quiet on the western front" by eric maria remarque. i'm doing this because this is the book, when i was asked to find something to read, this was the book that had the mood that i feel not only about us here in new york, but people all over the world for all kinds of reasons. i hope it comes clear from the small passage. gradually, a few of us are allowed to get up. and i am given crutches to hobble around on, but i don't make much use of them. i can't bear albert's gaze as i move about the room, his eyes always follow me with such a strange look. so i sometimes escape to the corridor. there i can move about more
freely. on the next floor below are the on.comal and spine -- abdominal and spine cases. on the right side of the wing are theoi wounds in the kidneys, wounds in the testicle cl, wounds in the inhe's tips. here a man realizes for the first time how many places a man can get hit. stubbornly. many of the wounded have their shattered limbs hanging free in the air from a gallows. underneath the wound a basin is placed into which drips the pus. every two or three hours the vessel is emptied. other men lie with heavy weights. i see intestine wounds. the surgeon's clerk shows me x-ray photographs of completely smashed hipbones, knees and shoulders. a man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes its daily round, and this is only one hospital, one single
station. there are hundreds of thousands in germany, hundreds of thousands in france, hundreds of thousands in russia. how senseless is everything that can ever be written, done or thought when such things are possible. it must all be lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent the stream of blood being bored out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands. a hospital alone shows what war is. i'm a young man, 20 years old, yet i know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, infatwows superficiality. i see how people's are set against one another and in silence unknowingly, foolishly, obediently slave one another. i see that the keenest brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it get more refined and enduring. and all men of my age here and over there throughout the whole world see these things, all my generation is experiencing these things with me.
what would our fathers do if suddenly we stood up and came before them and profferedded our bill? what do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is over? through the years our business has been killing. it was our first calling in life. our knowledge of life is limited to death. what will happen afterwards? and what shall come out of us. [applause] >> host: and we are back with walter mosley for our special "in depth" fiction edition, talking to him about his writings. nearly 50 books that he has done with function. a reminder to all of you that you can join in on the conversation. eastern, central part of the country, if you live there, 202-748-8200. mountain/pacific, 202-748-8201. we will get back to more of those phone calls. we were just listening to, the
viewers were just listening to you reading from "all quiet on the western front." that's one of your favorite books, i understand. >> guest: that's a great novel, and it's a novel in which you understand war from the pedestrian point of view, the foot soldier's point of view. it's a gorgeous novel. there's a place in the middle where he's been in a terrible war, there's been gas, people are getting killed, all this death. and then he goes home for, like, a furlough for, like, five days or six days and how crazy that is. and he comes back out again. but also one of the main characters of the novel is a guy who, you know, everybody else is dying, starving, influenza. he goes out, and he comes back with, you know, an arm full of cheese and another arm full of wine and two or three women, you know? like, that's his experience. and really a lot that influences my understanding. >> host: some of the other favorite books that you told us before we sat down today, "the
fire next time." "their eyes were watching god," zora neale hurston. and -- >> guest: breath eyes memory. why those books? >> guest: they're all really beautiful. she has such an incredible, lyrical voice. zora neale hurston was writing at a time where women had no end of difficulty, you know, coming out, being important. i mean, in america in pwomen were considered kind of second class. and black america was even worse. but, you know, she's a beautiful writer. and james baldwin, i mean, his understanding of the passion that underlies the politics, you know, not only of being black, but being black and gay in america, it's just gorgeous. just a gorgeous writer. >> host: some others, "the simple stories" -- >> guest: langston hughes, yeah.
>> host: lord of light and four quartets. why those? >> guest: t.s. eliot, he's not my favorite guy politically, but his writing especially in "the four quartets" is just gorgeous. he's a poet, and the poetry is absolutely beautiful. "lord of light," i mentioned, you know, when you asked me because it's a speculative fiction novel. it's not really fantasy or science fiction, but speculative fiction. and he's a great writer. just word after word after word you just, he just pulls you right in in a way that i think is just amazing. >> host: and your favorite sci-fi books, "the city and the stars"? >> guest: hothouse. i mean, really, he understood things about plants when he wrote that book, putting it like a billion years in the future.
but he understood things about planets that people didn't really start getting to until decades after he wrote the book about the life of plants, it's just amazing; how they think, how they move, how they respond, you know? because we just thought, well, plants are plants. they just grow, they're kind of like a fungus. but, no, they actually have an interesting and different kind of intelligence. >> host: did those books inspire your science fiction writing? >> guest: every science fiction book i ever read influenced it starting with danny dunn until i was, like, 10. >> host: why did you -- how and why did you decide you wanted to write science fiction? >> guest: well, you know, it's interesting. science fiction is so important. you look at minute like jules verne, he defined the following century with his inventions in his novels that later became real, you know, the submarine, rockets to the moon, all kinds of stuff. you know?
and when i would look at things like, for instance, "star wars," the original, '77, like, there are no black people in "star wars." i don't think there are any people who don't have blue eyes in "star wars." it's like, you know, like a racist dream. [laughter] there's only going to be one kind of people. and so i think it's very important if i'm going to imagine myself, i have to imagine myself in the future. and i have to imagine other people in the future. is so i get that. i mean, gene rodden berry knew it with "star trek," but the idea of creating a future that reflects the political, social and technological advance that i see following me in that direction. >> host: and, again, let's go through some of those science fiction books that you've written. "always outnumbered" -- >> guest: no, that's not science
fiction. >> host: future land, excuse me. what is your favorite science fiction book that you've written? >> guest: that i've written? you know, i think it's probably the most recent which was "inside the silver box," in which i was able to imagine the entire universe that was subsumed inside of one great machine that had a moral response to its creators that was, they were wrong. and so the machine withdraws and comes to earth. and so, you know, you have these two characters, a black man and a white woman, who kind of unite with this machine to try to protect the universe from this, these aliens that the machine hates. m it was so much fun, you know, to write that and to, you know, to imbue people who seem to be kind of, you know, maybe hopeless or powerless, but to give them more power than anybody else could imagine.
>> host: almost all of the science fiction books feature sort of this unifying consciousness. the blue light, god mind, the second fire, the universal mind, the co-mind, the wave. where does this come from? >> guest: i don't know, actually. i like writing about that stuff. i wonder if other people know, you know? because it's not an idea, you know, that i have, it's understanding -- you know, another thing that i do in books is that, you know, most -- a lot of the science fiction like in movies and stuff in america there's an invasive, alien force. it could be anything from a werewolf to invaders from mars, but they're the evil ones. they're coming, and they're trying to take over innocent humanity. i usually flip that on its head, that humanity is really the dangerous thing, and it's trying to wipe out these incredibly beautiful alien minds that don't
really understand why humans hate them, you know? i like, i like doing that more. >> host: you touched on this a little bit, but most of -- many of the books pose the questions are humans unique and valuable or insignificant in the face of the larger universe. >> guest: yeah. and it's usually all of that. that the universe houses forms and bodies and intelligences that humans, we just don't get it. we don't understand. we think, you know, we think still, like children do, that everything surrounds us, that everything, you know, circles around us. either it's better than us or it's less than us or it hates us. and really it's nothing like that. it's that if we can accept more, larger, deeper, different, then we can go to those places.
>> host: then we evolv >> host: then we evolve? >> guest: change, at any rate. >> host: and what does that evolution look like? >> guest: well, it depends. you know, it depends on what's real and what's not. usually, often in my books one person decides that they want to help the alien exodus. let's say there's an exodus earth. w they help that what douse. and that -- exodus. and that one person making that one decision might actually save the potential for humanity in the future. and, you know, listen, when i say it i think, wow, there's a political message there, but i was never thinking it when i was writing it. >> host: the books often end with a cataclysm that has destroyed or is set to destroy most of humanity, merge, future land, steppingstone. is merge and future land the
survivors -- and in merge and futureland, the survivors are predominantly non-white. what are you writing here? what are you talking about? >> guest: i know in futureland at the end of the book, i hope -- you can still buy the book, it's a good book, but at the end of the book there's one group of people who create a virus that's supposed to kill all people of color. like, it has, you know, different aspects so only, you know, quote white people survive. but one of my heroes, there are many heroes in the book, one of my heroes alters the virus just slightly. and what happens is it kills everybody who's not at least one-eighth black. and, but it turns out that there's all these so-called white people who survive because a lot of them are one-eighth black, they just don't know it. that was kind of fun to say like, oh, so me surviving means i have to recognize that i'm
part of the people i was trying to kill. >> host: let's go back too call. elaine's been waiting in st. louis. welcome to the conversation. >> caller: oh, thank you, greta, for facilitating this most appreciated and outstanding program! and thank you especially, mr. mosley, for sharing your art, humor and expertise on this most uplifting easter sunday program. your words are truly a godsend. i really enjoyed -- >> guest: well, thank you. >> caller: -- you're welcome. i'd like to flip the switch a little bit to my most recent realize, "down the river unto the sea." >> guest: yes. >> caller: i found that very enlightening. i love the way you weave the character's name into the story,
billyry makepeace. i found that so humorous. and zenobia price called up pictures of an elegant elder that eluded wisdom. i love the way you stimulated my vocabulary. i could go on and on about -- [laughter]r] but i wanted to ask about this quotee because it was deep. thed main character, the fallen police officer -- i forgot be his name. i was on a long list at the library for the book, and i forgot --g >> guest: you mean joe king oliver? >> caller: oh, king, yeah, king oliver.ye >> guest: yeah. >> caller: he said i like the rules. following them proves to me that i'm a civilizedded -- civilized
man. boy, did that get me thinking. i live in the inner city of st. louis. you've been here, i've seen you, and i follow the rules too. that was such a powerful statement. it wrapped up everything to me. what were you trying -- i hope i'm on the right track. were you trying that order in for us -- in order for us to live and be proud of this colored experience, we have to embrace those rules and stand for those rules, but we must hold those rules accountable? am i on the right track? >> guest: no, i think you're absolutely on the right track. one of the things is, is that he's following the rules, and the rules of, you know, for y the police departme, you know?
and for order in new york. but he slowly discovers that not all the police are following the rules, that he is, fiends himself h alone and that -- fins himself alone and that in following the rules, he's going to be breaking the rules. that if he follows the rules, which he's always done, he's always going to be breaking another set of unspoken rules. >> host: jennifer in oakland, california, you're next. >> caller: hi. greta and l mr. mosley, i love c-span, i watch it especially on "in depth." and q today my question is kindf a trivial question, but i love that lapel pin, i'm just wondering if it has any significance -- [laughter] and i love yourov work, okay? so --te >> guest: well, that's fine. listen, my pin is part of my work, it's just, you know, another part of k it. [laughter] no, listen, it doesn't, it doesn't have significance other
than the fact that i love -- i saw it, you know, like in, actually, it was inn an airport. i saw it and i went, wow, i love that pin. and i never see people wearing pins. i'm going to buy this, and i did, you know? it's this dalmation. i think it's great. i don't own a dalmation, i'm not thinking about n dalmations, bui do love the pin. and thank you. >> caller: thank you for all your good work. >> guest: and my ring -- thank you. you know, my ring is another thing. it's royal african gold, lost wax technique. 200 years old. a king's ring and very small among kings rings. i saw it and it said you've got to get me. a collector of african antiquities hadn it in the puck building in new york. >> host: let's go to teresa in georgia. of teresa. >> caller: hello, greta and mr. mosley, and thank you so much for accepting my call. i first want to say to mr. mosley that i love you.
i t had to say it. [laughter] is.there it >> guest: well, thank you. >> caller: i also love l your writing. when i'm reading your books, i always feel like i'm right there with the characters, and i love that about your books. the question thatt i have is could you or would you offer suggestions ored a vice for -- or advice for developing dialogue for characters? >> guest: sure. i have that. i mean, you should probably look at my book, "this year you write your novel," because i talk about that, and i say some things that i'll say now. one of the things that i find about writing, writing in generall and writing dialogue specifically is when we write, that's one experience. it's one way that we do things. we write, and it just, you know, we put the words down. those words aren't necessarily
reflective of our oral experience. but, so when i've finished writing a section of a novel or even the whole novel, at some pointt i sit down, and i read te whole thing into a tape recorder. i just read everything. and when you read dialogue out loud, you go, oh, wow, nobody would really talk like this, or that's great, or i need to flip that around or make it shorter. a lot of your, the critique that you can make of the writing you can do by yourself just by reading it out loud. >> host: anita, oak grove. anita, what state are you in? >> caller: i'm in missouri. >> guest: oh, missouri. >> host: okay. go ahead, anita. >> caller: hello, mr. mosley. i can't tell you how important this ismp for me to be speakingo you. i'm almost nervous. but thank you so much for the stingy brim that you're wearing, first ofs all. that's the coolest thing ever. [laughter] my dad had that, and i remember
him specifically saying this is my stingy brim. i always remember that. [laughter] so imb see you -- [laughter] but iou wanted to say that as a black woman who's been writing all my life for some reason or another, and i see that you're going too put out this book for writing, but one of my questions is, you know, everyone's saying you need to get an agent, you need to do this if you're going to be published, you need to self-publish. how do you get that down on the paper and get it to someone? how does that happen, you know? i hoe that every time i -- i know that every time i write something on facebook or to my friends they say, you need to book, you need to write a book. i've felt this since i was 10 years old. so now i'm kind of looking at how to i switch that up, because i don't see that many black women writers anymore. i see a few. i see a few. and then as a boomer, you know, people are beginning to think the life we had in the '70s, '80s and '90s are now insignificant, they want to move on, and that's what i know, so
that's what i write about. so, like -- .. a 10 or 12 years ago, a lot of ways to go about it. you can look up some publication, there's a few, the aal bc is an organization that helps with self-publishing. if you read a book and like that book and you think you are -- that your writing is somewhat like what that book was you can call the publisher, get to the editor, ask who
represents that writer, what agent represents them and call that agent until the agent i have written something like this other book you represented and how can i get it to you. send us a chapter and let's take a look and see if that is true. taking courses in writing classes, other people doing the same thing and teachers often have that kind of information. you need to meet those people. >> host: ronald rushing on facebook that he met you and i met walter mosley and was featured in a nice photo with him at the black writers conference around 1997. it was wonderful, he said. toni morrison was there and met the great gwendolyn brooks and other black writers at that
event. >> guest: the conferences are good. you can go to different lectures and panels, meet people, talk to people, pick up things you don't know you are learning at that time. there is a great writers happening, across the street from where we are at thrillerfest next to grand central station where they teach you how to pitch to agents, agents to talk to. it is called thriller fest, one word, thriller first. that is a good thing to go to and they share a lot. >> we covered the black writers conference in new york march 22nd-26 and that is airing next weekend at 1:30 p.m. eastern time on saturday. here from willie in waco,
texas. hi, willie. >> caller: good afternoon. walter mosley, to you and the young commentator after working with you, watch booktv often on weekends. another called in after years of watching, but as i was watching c-span i was fascinated and ran to my phone determined to talk to you about -- my question to you, both of you, the data, the greats, what
do you do, signs like fishing going to the free market on a weekend, and rabbits, work the flowerbeds, that is what my question is to you. >> i live in new york, no flowerbeds, i had to enjoy drawing. doing it for 50 years and it was a relief. being out in the streets with people, go to events, last night i went to a play which was a lot of fun, at the public theater. and one of the interesting
things, the thing i love doing the most is writing. and other people writing, i am doing a lot. >> host: do you like to cook? you write a lot about it. >> guest: i cook every day and something we do that you have to do like drinking water, really good if you are dying of thirst, you drinkwater every day anyway, not so much that i enjoyed it but something that i do. and we work everywhere, i love places that have great food, new york, new orleans, san francisco. >> host: being able to put a meal on the table. people in the room are hungry.
>> guest: i am a gourmet cook, i open the refrigerator and there should be something i can make a meal out of, that is different than anything i ever cooked before. the housewives relationship, my job is to feed these people, not that i aggrandize myself as a cook but something that is good for you or something you like enough to eat. >> host: and honor to speak to you today, a dedicated fan of c-span. >> -- walter mosley, you are the worst of the worthless. when i saw the movie always
outnumbered always outdone i nearly cried because you are speaking to the heart of so many people that don't know and listen to us and i think about the movie angela's ashes and how he wrote about the irish, and keep doing what you are doing. and sonia sanchez and bell hooks and alice walker and norman mailer, and carlos santana, he feels my old davis was a vessel for miles davis and john cold rain, for so many young writers that give us inspiration. i'm an artist myself would i
love to cook too and also love to grill. to people enjoy, and knocking pots and pans around. on this one occasion i saw where alice walker was on booktv and one lady called in tears and said you gave me a hug. i was hooked on drugs and i am a counselor for this community service, the woman stopped crying and alice's know, let her finish speaking. and she says honey, when you hug me you hug me like my grandmother would and i got off the ground and started walking like a real woman and she says i was doing some things in the
streets and alice walker immediately said to her your tears are the window washers to the soul. walter mosley, your writing for the window washers to our hearts, thank you for what you have done all these years. >> guest: thank you and appreciate it. the 19 for those who haven't read always outnumbered always outgunned, tell the story. >> guest: i want to say one thing to him and anybody interesting, i know most of the people he listed. not everyone but almost everyone i met. i was walking in grand central station, 10,000 people were there. a very tall young black man in a uniform, and take him by his
hand and talking about his sister and his sister was pregnant, going around and sonja -- does she want to have that baby, i think she does and she wrote down her phone number. and have her call me. and sonja, such a wonderful individual, she is there in the world and her poetry is there for the people, and like t.s. eliot, yates wrote about what the irish were experiencing. if you write about what is
real, and - >> what were you thinking when that collar was comparing you? >> going through life in a pedestrian kind of way and you know your flaws, other people don't know them so well, i am not this, and i am not that. it is something i try to do and my work tries to do and it is true for so many other people. >> host: how do you do that, always outnumbered, always outgunned? >> and ex-convict committed a terrible crime, he spent 27 years in prison, he is out and trying to be better and the young boy committed a terrible - and the kid knows, he knows if he wants to help this kid
become a better person he has to become a better person himself, and close to the bone, impoverished and somebody trying to live from day today in their own reality. >> guest: he is struggling - to overcome his own nature which is pretty violent, the things he has done. to be a better person, to help the community become better. >> host: into lido, ohio.
after you come to those conclusions, war on terrorism and every day action contributing to the world today. if i'm able to assuage that pain can i make a better world? sometimes you have to blow up things to make a better world to make it safer, and vengeance in some ways. to make a better world helping rather than hurt. >> host: welcome to the conversation. >> caller: i have to thank walter mosley, years ago when i was looking for a librarian and one of the easiest books it was. the most mouse out of the
hospital. and a lot of authors, wrote back and said have patience so i waited and eventually he did write about it. and always outnumbered around guns, spoke about that to another cutler, and ask for recommendations. and two american philosophers, a very different view and i tell people to read those two books and just wanted to thank you, for those characters who struck me to such an extent.
>> it is okay too about following socrates and i really appreciate it. >> host: leave the question out there that mouse could be dead. >> guest: almost like freestyle, just writing and writing, i never thought he was dead but taking him out of the hospital, and raising money from the dead, mouse was so powerful inside the books, had to get - stand on his own.
>> following that book, trying to figure out whether he is alive or dead, why is that important to the character? >> guest: it makes - it allows mouse to be there for the audience but at the same time it is easy making decisions and understanding who he is outside the negative space. >> guest: in indiana, is that what we think it is. i want to thank mr. mosley from being articulate during his interview. he is a mystery writer there
for bill clinton. in the early days of his presidency. i was curious and checked out devil in the blue dress. did that give you a boost in your recognition as an author and writer. are there other well-known people who cherish you as one of their favorite writers? and i have given folks all kinds of people. and he did have a big impact on his career and moves people.
did you want to talk to moses, i will talk to him. not only in america but around the world. not sure how many books are sold. political and journalistic world, paid attention to me because of clinton. >> host: what happens the most? >> guest: devil in the blue dress i would imagine. here i, linda. >> think you for taking my call. i have been enjoying the program and i appreciate this opportunity. i work in a small indie bookstore and love talking about your books with
customers. i love your writing primarily because you are able to talk about a lot of different kinds of communities that some of us are not a part of and help us understand people that are. and you write about the human condition and it covers every one and you can relate to it as well. i could go on and on but i want to ask you. wear your ideas come from, from your sleep. sometimes i get the same thing from my little bit of writing. i see advice that says right for yourself, not for your reader. i want to comment about that if there is balance you find in your own writing.
>> okay. i want to thank you for working in an indie bookstore and keeping indie bookstores alive. it is really important for literature. big gigantic bookstores are good to have. amazon is good to have. going to the bookstore and talking to somebody about books they like and books that you like. it is important. when people ask me who is your audience i tell them this. i had a favorite cousin named alberta jackson, she was a wonderful wonderful woman. from monster movies at night, and i was talking to alberto.
and i would tell her the story. and sitting behind us, overhearing conversation of me talking to alberta, that is how i figure it. i imagine the best possible light to illuminate my story, and what i'm going to like. >> host: who are you talking to? this is easy rollins and the white principal of the school, he is explaining to her about the riots. and any soul you come upon has been threatened and beaten in jail, if you have kids they will be been, and there's a beat waiting for you.
and some poor mother crying for his release it speaks to you. you don't know if the man has done something wrong, it is hot and you are broke, and what your mothers can remember. >> the opening of the rise, the original one that i thought of. i remember the experience and it is so funny because so many other people didn't understand because they didn't understand the lives of the people so they said why are you writing? everything is fine.
everything at that moment was not fine. that's not enough reason to riots but nothing had ever been fine. people had been lynched, people had been enslaved and beaten and killed and excluded from all kinds of jobs and institutions. my father used to tell me when he was in fifth ward and come to houston, the first 5 nights was only for white audience and only on the last minute the 6 night a black audience could hear friends wallace, that is terrible but it didn't matter because every night after playing for the white people he would come down to some juke joint and play for us all might long. the fact that you have to do that makes you happy and angry and everybody was angry.
part of writing this book was to excommunicate that. >> do riots change anything? >> they change a lot. back then nobody was aware of the anger of black people. after the riots happened somebody would say does everybody feel like this? most people down here feel like this and 10% were really mad. that caused the country to think we have to change and a lot changed, it brought about a lot and a lot of things got different in america, helping people opening doors that had been closed. a lot had happened and a lot of people said they burn their neighbors and do all kinds of
things. >> the influence of martin luther king after the riots. only ten came to talk to him in city government and he left the next day and on the way our reporter said what do you think los angeles can do to make things better. and a man fighting for equal rights in mississippi, alabama and los angeles. >> host: as we approach the 50th anniversary of the king assassination, april 4th coming up.
>> guest: you know, martin luther king said a great thing to a friend of mine. they were talking and king said you know, as i look at the news and see what is happening in the world, we could integrate ourselves into a burning house. my friend said if that is the case what should we do? we are going to have to become scientists. whether it is the 50anniversary or 51st or 129th, his understanding of the duty that we, all-americans, have, is
special. >> host: in chicago. >> caller: hello hello, can you hear me? >> host: weekend, question or comment. >> caller: i think walter mosley for being here on easter day. i didn't know he was a humanitarian. how did he become a humanitarian? he spoke about helping each other, i like that part and i'm trying to be a writer. >> guest: you are talking about martin luther king on the? >> host: were you talking about walter mosley? >> caller: sounds like walter mosley is a humanitarian. >> guest: i certainly am. i am a humanitarian in a certain place, what i feel is a
long lineage that i want to celebrate and show the rest of the world how wonderful and great these black blue blue are and have been. as far as being a writer that is great. the only thing you have to do to be a writer is get up and write every day for a couple hours. do that a year and look back at what you wrote and figure out. >> host: you were a computer programmer, do it full-time. >> guest: one thing i keep saying as i start writing across the street from where we are sitting. the old mobil oil building, i was a computer programmer working on the weekend and writing this program, tired of it and decided to write a sentence. on hot sticky days in southern louisiana the fire ants swarm. i read a lot of books, i knew
it was fiction because i had never been to louisiana, making it up. trying to be a writer and keep trying. >> host: who inspired you? >> when i was a kid, i was 34 years old. when i was a writer i thought my father was the greatest storyteller. but we had parties, started telling stories, being moved, and unconsciously, this is who you should be, you should cook and tell good stories. >> host: janet in mississippi.
>> caller: i would like to know about your right ins, and broadway like august wilson, he had several of his right ins, did you think yours would be looked at in theaters? what have you? >> guest: i have written a couple plays. there was the fall of heaven produced in 6 or 7 cities, cincinnati. it is a difficult world, and
and the musical for devil in a - and davis, working on the lyrics and composition. >> host: do you have a time frame? >> guest: we are working on it and do a couple readings this summer. >> host: robert in nashville, tennessee. >> caller: hello. originally, i was 73 years old, in greenville, mississippi, in the 40s, 50s, 60s in the delta
area, pretty well known, and the owner of the delta democrat times, a noted progressive newspaper in the south and i have read a couple of mr. walter mosley's book, i have the long fall, "the last days of ptolemy grey," a great collector of books. i can't get rid of them but i'm inclined toward interracial relationships over the last decade particularly my history being from mississippi. as a writer becomes extremely
well known and influential. does walter mosley feel there is a responsibility, major or minor for writers to present themselves in the sociopolitical event. does he feel besides their individual writings and the influence they would have but personally it is positive or negative to inject their personal feelings outside of their writings into these events particularly the way it is right now. thank you. >> guest: an interesting
question. i am very politically active the way writers would be. i'm not running for office or supporting it by running for office because i know better. i try to comment on things but i would never tell another writer what they should or shouldn't do, how they should talk, if they should talk, should they inject themselves or should they not, i would never say that because writers have to do what they can do. if they come to place i respect great, if they don't great, they are writers. i was on an internet television show six months ago, maybe more, there were four journalists and me. i don't know how that got done. everybody talking about fake news and they are mad and have to convince people that fake news is a made up term, we are
real journalists saying real things and i was nodding endlessly and finally at one point i said you have to understand i am a black man in america. i have been listening to fake news for 400 years. if there is any legacy trump leaves is that there is fake news. and i am sure it is exist. walter cronkite for years, talking about vietnam as if it is a sensible bore for a good reason and the vietnamese are a threat to the united states and he says i have been saying this for years but if it is not true, it is not real, we are not winning and people
supporting dictators, it was nice to hear a moment of real news after years and years. >> host: a soldier fought in vietnam, is he that voice the best way to ask the question. >> comes from a military family, black military family that could go all the way back, and have done all this stuff. and the end of that. and the sins we have committed. he doesn't know how to deal
with it and that is a wonderful moment to have somebody say i have been wrong. and said this. i have been wrong. >> what is the difference between -- fought for the united states, and someone like rollins who fought in world war ii and came back, refers to feeling patriotic. >> one of my dear friends, a black publisher named paul who among other things, and a wonderful guy and in the 60s life of the panthers, when he
went to vietnam, where you against it? when i went there i thought i was john wayne. kind of wonderful for a black man to think he's john wayne and fighting for liberty. he was disabused of this notion and came back and as politics came up, i was a publisher. especially young troops who want to believe in what they are doing in wartime and they and to believe the acre inside of them has a reason and the purpose. but often find out is not true.
that is true for mark in all quiet on the western front. is true for a lot of germans in world war ii and a lot of russians in world war ii. i think in every war there is a moment you might feel like this is wrong, i made a mistake. sometimes not. american revolution people agreed the civil war, not sure if either side thought they made a mistake. many sides made a lot of mistakes before that. >> you said mohammed ali shaped your thinking about the vietnam war. >> guest: so interesting and wonderful, indeed he was the greatest and i'm not sure about the ring, not sure if he beat
kenny norton or not but i think that his ability, his physical genius which all really great sports people have, morphed into a social political genius. in the beginning joining the nation of islam was part of that and when he stood in front of anybody who would listen a lot of college students, a lot of people in the nation of islam and other people said i'm not going to vietnam because no vietcong ever called me nigbor. it is poetry. his little poetry stuff, that is more poetry than all of that rhyming stuff that he did
because it is so true. i'm going to kill somebody who doesn't have anything against me for the people who have everything against me? i know now that he helped form my thinking but i didn't know it then because it was everywhere. >> host: you were how old? >> guest: when that happened i was probably 14, 15 years old. >> host: you were talking the way mohammed ali was talking about the war. >> people say are you going? know. there are two reasons. i don't want to get hurt, shot, killed or anything and second i don't have anything against those people. why would i go shoot some guy in vietnam?
it is so far away i can't even imagine it. he is the one who told me that. >> host: patrick, you're on the air with walter mosley. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i went to thank you for the earlier comments you made on reading. i take it as a blueprint for my life. i have two questions, you have written about a lot of characters and i want to ask how do those characters compared to what happened 20 years ago and what is happening today? the other question i have is how would you describe white privilege? can black people relate black privilege because abraham lincoln said at one time that
privilege comes with power. almost every man would withstand adversity. if you want to test the character of a man give him power. i just need to hear your input on that and tell you today you changed my life. you mentioned you were a computer programmer. i'm an engineer and i always thought about writing but never took interest in the political or literary reading but after listening to you i don't watch the stations that often. something pushed me to listen to you today. i want the
world, the germans, world war ii, the americans are happy about it. americans limit the vietnamese war because it was a mistake and the war in iraq was really a mistake. we begin to think this. i forgot the second question. >> host: white privilege. >> guest: white privilege is different at different times. there was a time people would say i'm free, white, and over 21, and that meant i could do anything. that was then. today, white privilege is a long-ago faraway dream that a lot of white people are unhappy about. they think i use to be in control. i used to have everything. i used to be a little work hard and do this and do that and
retire and take care of my kids and everything was fine and that has been taken away and is is true. it has been taken away. we never had it really. so-called white america did have it. white privilege has become more of a fantasy or long-ago memory than of reality. there is rich privilege, that is for sure, but i think that is all there is to it. the rich have privilege and everybody else thinks wistfully about the past, they had it at one time or another, make america great. >> host: is it capitalism that created it and may have destroyed it? >> guest: both.
earlier occurrences of capitalism, you want land, just kill the natives who are on the land and it is yours or you want farms and plantations and houses and roads, just take a bunch of slaves and make him do it and you don't have to pay them. they have nothing but you have everything. that is the early part of it. that is when it got billed and now you have today where more and more of the wealth is in the hands of the very few and people think wealth is limitless but it is not. it is based on labor, labor is finite, then wealth is also finite. if the average income of every person in the world is or should be $80,000 everybody who works should have $80,000 this year but if a person has $100,000 or $200,000 or billion dollars or $200 billion those
dollars have to come out of the pockets of the $80,000 people and the more and more that wealth combines in the middle and aggregates, the poorer and poorer everybody else's and their wealth reflects this. in china it is worse than it is here, no one has enough money. >> host: what our history be different if we had a different institution, socialism? >> it is -- i don't think that is true. and when we have abstract forms like money and interest you have capitalism, doesn't matter
if it is called socialism, china, or a monarchy. it doesn't matter. as soon as you have printed money and somebody is making profit by moving the money around you have capitalism. the thing is that we have to be aware of the systems we work in and control it in such a way that not all the wealth comes out of our pockets. that is the thing. it is not black people taking it from white people white people taking it from black people but the institution and we have to have more control over it. >> host: a few more phone calls, sean is in hawaii. are you with us? hello. >> caller: very early days explanation for everything so far.
to ask a deep question, if you had one last meals and you were a corpsman, how did drinking influence your writing and now that you don't drink, thank you. >> guest: what what i eat kumar my last meal, crab gumbo. and fried okra, definitely. and would love that. >> guest: >> host: maybe it will come to us. we are here in new york.
go ahead. >> pleasure to have you in my house today. i got interested and introduced to you and speak more on that. i said that book, when i read it, as soon as i got finished i rented it again, and i read it several times since because it was so enlightening to me, to describe your characters and always said that book should be translated to every other language in the world, gave me such a perspective, to bring people together and enlightened me very much. thank you for taking my
questions. >> guest: my favorite book is blue light, the only book i have written that i read again. i sit down and really enjoy reading it. why i wrote it was i am not in any way a religious or spiritual person. i would like to be but i am not. i believe in a materialistic, pragmatic universe, with one exception. i believe in the soul. the notion of the soul. i feel like i have one. i feel like my thoughts, personality, identity transcends my corporeal existence. and in writing.
light, a person is walking back and forth considering who he is inside, what his incidents is and i think i got there in that walking back and forth. the planets and the light hitting the earth and how transforms people into superior but not necessarily better parts. that is why i wrote it and still love it. >> host: the second part of the question is drinking and how it influenced your writing when you were drinking and how it influenced your writing and don't drink. >> it didn't matter. i started writing and i was writing and not always drinking
and writing and drinking stayed far apart. i will not be writing. i get foggy, not more specific. i know a lot of writers who seem to be held and emotionally somewhat and it frees them. a lot of poets say that. that is the experience. >> host: kenneth in richmond, virginia. >> reporter: i enjoy your writings but one thing it did, when i looked at these characters i started looking at the janitors i knew, my father's generation and how to connect that.
>> that wasn't my experience. when i was a kid, wouldn't let me go outside by myself, my relatives were so interesting. and world war ii, and gone to galveston in a car and they were partying all night and the next morning, the three guys are sleeping so you can't even see them and another guy drives in front like in a car and another car comes up behind him and
out with their guns. these are the stories they told me. the dreams and humor, those are the stories i wanted to tell. >> host: how did you go by yourself? >> guest: 5 or 7. i am here and listening to more stories and it was great. >> host: what impact did your mom have? >> guest: my mother is an interesting case. she had a psychological spin where she couldn't express affection. it was interesting. she was incredibly smart, went to -- grant -- he graduated hunter high school and
graduated hunter college, she was really smart and really independent, she was in los angeles, married to one of the richest guys in los angeles at the time. she was with him but then took a job in the schools because she had to do the right thing and met my father and she told me once i met your father and realize i didn't love my husband so i left him and married your father. for a white jewish woman in the late 40s early 50s, to leave that wealth to marry a black man, that took a lot of character and a little craziness also i think.
the attention to doing who you are and what you want i get from my mother. >> host: how did she and your mother and father influence your thoughts on not seeing color? >> guest: the idea that somebody is -- the notion of the color lines was a colonization tactic. .. black people in slaves, we are the white people. it's ridiculous. it's so silly. not one of us is the same color. like, are you black, yes, but obviously, what kind of sense does that make, makes sense only in the insanity of the asylum that i'm living it makes sense, but only in the insanity of the asylum i'm
living in. like it doesn't make sense and i don't know like if my parents came in that are not. i mean, they certainly were not worried about it and los angeles in an important way as segregated as it is it's mostly segregated by classss, but whent comes to where you work, everyone works together. you couldn't say i'm not going to work with mexican-americans, okay because that means you're going to quit because you're going to hire everyone that's going to work. they were building la. they didn't have time to say i pick and choose among my neighbors stephen what is next for you? >> i have my book coming out. john woman, i'm excited about that. i just was at the public theater last night and ran into the guy who's pretty much running the series that i just wrote an episode for, the series, and he
told me last night he really liked the episode i wrote so i'm excited about that. like i told you, i'm trying to do "devil in a blue dress" as a musical and trying to make it as a movie and i'm working on a lot of different things all at once. i'm writing a book and writing the next installment on how to write a novel. am calling it a structure role-playedat? host: mr. mosley, thank you for our conversation today. guest: thank you. it's great to be here. >> walter mosley is the author of over 40 books and has appeared on book tv several times over the last few years. watch all his programs by visiting book tv.org and typing walter mosley broke