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tv   In Depth In Depth with Walter Mosley  CSPAN  December 25, 2018 5:32am-8:33am EST

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you are probably also familiar with all ashes, saul asha. >> me and names is a troubled thing. i knew about benjamin, i went back to my study of the civil war. why don't you tell me? >> caller: a black jew. they were moved. >> guest: okay, yeah. >> caller: a black plantation owner who is a member of the confederate cabinet and he goes
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to an auction in new orleans, a black slave unknown to him, he is a flasher from ethiopia. so i have a black jewish plantation owner unknown to him, owning black jewish slave, anyway, something i want to share with you. >> guest: i like that story. >> host: how much research do you use for your books? >> guest: i will tell you about the first time i was asked that question. i was making devil in a blue dress. jennifer beale called me, i want to have dinner with you and ask you some questions. i love jennifer biel.
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and she asked me how much research do you do? i want to research my character. i tried to figure out how i could lie but i couldn't. i said i don't research. when i finish writing a book i go through to make sure things aren't wrong, make sure the cotton gin already existed when i am writing the story and it did. as a rule, fiction is more, today, not historically, more about character than things. i'm not trying to educate people about things, and cultural and technological world. >> the premise of 6 easy peaches, there is still oppression.
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it is the early 60s in la. one of the female characters response to comments that a young, talented black physician could make it like louis armstrong did and she responds by saying for every armstrong you have a string of black boys going around the block. you know how the streets eat up the men if they have dreams. >> guest: that is true. if you are born in poverty, this is true of everybody, everything is against you succeeding. if you accept that militant attitude toward your -- you will survive but if you have dreams that go beyond that, so much more will be against you. there is already a a lot
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against people but so much more that a lot of people die from us. and in all kinds of ways, on tour going around the country, had a diabetic attack and the hospital wouldn't take him so he died, he was 39 years old. you get killed by all kinds of things, somebody shoots you and burns you and sometimes they close the door. >> host: what is the emotion? you write about emotions. >> guest: the emotion is i think it could be a lot of things but for me it is the heroism of the character, the person who tries to get beyond where he is, where she is, to make it to a better place for themselves. it will help them no matter what, whether they succeed or don't succeed, the fact that they are trying gets them
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there. >> host: robert, philadelphia, go ahead. >> caller: hello, walter mosley. i have been a admirer of yours for a number of years. i'm a struggling fiction writer, retired social worker, i find fiction an incredible release, especially since i had to immerse myself 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 find reading is as much important if not more important than writing. i was wondering what you read and what authors have been most influential to you. >> guest: that is an interesting question.
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if you have this young black woman who says who do you read? first she says phyllis wheatley, people don't know who she is. alice walker, my at angela, toni morrison, the reason they tell you this is they want you to think of their work in relation to this great work over here but the truth is that woman when she was a child, it was nancy drew that most influenced her. when you are a child reading is an amazing thing. it is real in your brain. you are completely transported into the world of fiction. there are no more words being printed, they are images and things happening. the same girl reading beloved would either kill herself or
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her mother because beloved is a tough story for a child. so same is true for me. it started out reading comic books and later on it was reading people like donald going and old books like robert louis stevenson so it is not so much the writers or anything real they were telling me. it was me and enjoying the adventure of the book and when i grew older, i love the idea of telling the same kind of stories in different ways that transported me. that is the way i would say reading has impacted if not influenced how i write. >> host: we are a little over the halfway mark on this sunday
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afternoon. we are going to take a short break. hang on the line, with your questions or comments, we will take a short break and then come back to your conversation and show you as we go to this break, the trailer for "devil in a blue dress" 1995 directed by carl franklin, we will be right back. >> a is a world of sunshine and shadows. black-and-white. >> we got no work here. >> my name is not fellow. my name is ezequiel rollins. >> what kind of work do you? >> should have been gone two weeks. a company of negros. >> he thought he knew how to play the game.
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>> a white girl by the name of dahlia? >> we can't get that tonight. >> until he stepped into a world. >> women ain't good for you no more. >> there are no rules. >> why are you arresting me? >> what is going on? >> she is not waking up. >> looking for a woman no one wants found. >> anyone with you? >> the incumbent mayor, the chief of police. >> they can help us find him. >> getting in deeper than he ever expected. >> looking for me? i don't know whether to think of you as a friend or private point. >> surrounded by lies. >> i am in next mayor and luckily for you a friend to the negro. >> seduced by power. >> i am going to jail.
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>> he the rollins is searching. >> too much going on. >> for the truth. >> don't lie to me. i am coming out for you. >> going -- >> from the academy award-winning producers of philadelphia and silence of the lambs, academy award winner denzel washington, "devil in a blue dress". a carl franklin film. >> i'm going to read to you from all quiet on the western front by eric rea. a remark, i am doing -- this is a book that had the mood that i feel not only about us in new york but people around the
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world, it comes clear from the small passage. if you of us are allowed to get up and i am given questions to hobble around on but don't make much use of them. i can't bear albert's glaze as i move about the room, his eyes follow me with a strange look. i sometimes escape to the core door. there i can move about more freely. on the next floor below are the spine cases, head wounds and double amputations was on the right side of the wing are job wounds, wounds of the joints, wounds of the kidneys, wounds of the testicles, wind in the intestines. a man realizes for the first time how many places a man can get hit, two fellows died, their skin turned pale, their limited distant. at last only their eyelids cover them. many of the wounded have their shattered limbs hanging free in the air from the gallows underneath the basin into which
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dripped the pus. every two or three hours the vessel is emptied. other men lie in stretching bandages at the end of the bed. they are full of excretion. the surgeon's clerk shows x-ray photographs of smashed hip bones, knees and shoulders. a man cannot realize above such shattered bodies there are human faces in which life goes its daily round and this was only one hospital, one single station. there are hundreds of thousands in germany, hundreds of thousands, how senseless is everything that can be written, done or thought when such things are possible. it must all be lies and of no account when the culture of the thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these tortured chambers and hundreds of thousands, hospital alone shows this. i'm a young man, 20 years old, yet i know nothing of life of despair, death, fear,
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superficiality cast over and abyss of sorrow. people are set against each other and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently enslave one another. the keenest brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it more refined and enduring and all men of my age here and over there throughout the world see these things, all my generation is experiencing these things with me. what what our fathers do if suddenly we stood up, came before them and proffered our bill. what do they expect of us when the time comes when the war is over. it was our first calling in life. our knowledge of life is limited. what will happen afterwards? and what shall come out of us? >> host: we are back with walter mosley for a special "in
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depth" fiction edition talking to him about his writings, near 50 books, the conversation from eastern and central part of the country if you live there, dialing 202-748-80200, mountain pacific 202-748-8201. we will get back to those phone calls. you reading from all quiet on the western front, one of your favorite books i understand. >> a novel in which you understand, and a terrible war, then he goes but -- goes home,
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one of the main characters of the novel, everybody else is dying, starving, influenza, and two or three women. his experience and a lot better influence. >> one of your favorite books, the fire next time, their eyes were watching god, zora neale kirsten, and breathe i met maurice. why those books? >> guest: they are all really beautiful. it reachedes from haiti and she has an incredible lyrical voice. writing at a time when women had no end of difficulty coming out, being important and
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america in general women were considered second glass and black america was even worse. she's a good writer and james baldwin, his understanding of the passion that underlies the politics not only of being black but black and gay and america, gorgeous, just gorgeous. >> host: simple stories, langston hughes, stranger, lord of life and for corsets. why those? >> guest: t.s. eliot is not my favorite guy politically but his writing is just gorgeous. the poetry is absolutely beautiful. lord of light, i mention when you ask me because it is speculative fiction novel, will not fantasy or science fiction but speculative fiction. he is a great writer. word after word after word, he
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just pools you write in in a way that i think is amazing. >> host: your favorite sci-fi books, the city and the stars, hothouse. >> guest: brian aldus. really, he understood things about plants when he wrote that book, putting it like 1 billion years in the future, he understood things people didn't start getting to until decades after he wrote the book about the life of plants, how they think, how they move, how they respond. we think plants are plants, but no. they have an interesting and different intelligence. >> host: the those books inspire your signed section writing? >> guest: every science fiction i ever read influenced, beginning with any done when i was 10.
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>> host: how and why did you decide to write science fiction? >> guest: it is interesting. science fiction is so important. look at someone like jules vern who defined the following century with his inventions in his novels it became real, submarine, rockets to the moon, all kinds of stuff and when i look at things like for instance star wars, the original 77, there are no black people in star wars. there are no people who don't have blue eyes in star wars. it is like a racist dream. there's only going to be one kind of people. i thought it is very important if i am going to imagine my stuff i have to imagine myself in the future. i have to imagine other people in the future.
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gene roddenberry knew it with star trek. the idea of creating a future that reflects the political, social, and technological advances that i see following me in that direction. >> host: let's go through some of those science fiction books, always outnumbered always outgunned, futureland, 47, the wave. what is your favorite science fiction book you have written? >> guest: the most recent 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, so the machine withdraws and comes
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to earth and you have these two characters. a black man and a white woman who unite with this machine to protect the universe from these aliens the machine hates. it was so much fun to write that, to imbue people who seem hopeless or powerless but to give them more power than anybody else can imagine. >> host: almost all the science fiction books feature a unifying consciousness, blue light, the second fire, the universal 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. it is not an idea that i have. another thing that i do in books is a lot of the science fiction like in movies and
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stuff in america, there is an invasive alien force, could be anything from a werewolf to invaders from mars, the evil ones are coming and trying to take over innocent humanity, i usually flip it on its head that humanity is the dangerous thing and is trying to wipe out these incredibly beautiful alien minds that don't understand why humans hate them. i like doing that. >> host: you touch on this a little bit. many books pose questions on our humans unique or insignificant in the face of the larger universe? >> guest: it is usually all of that. the universe houses forms and bodies and intelligences that humans, we just don't get it.
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we think still like children do that everything surrounds us, everything circles around us. it is better than us or less than us or hates us. it is nothing like that. if we can accept more, larger, deeper, different, then we can go to those places. >> host: then we even all? >> guest: change at any rate. >> host: what does that evolution look like? >> guest: it depends on what is real and what is not. usually, often in my books, one person decides that they once to help the alien exodus, let's say there's an exodus to earth, and that one person making that
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one decision might actually save the potential for humanity in the future. when i said i think there is a political message but i was never thinking it when i was writing. >> host: the books often end with capitalism has destroyed or set to destroy most of humanity, marriage, future land, steppingstone. 's merge and future land, the survivors, are predominantly nonwhite. what are you writing here? >> guest: in future land at the end of the book, at the end of the book is one group of people create a virus that is supposed to kill all people of color. it has different aspects so only, quote, white people survived. there are many heroes in the book. one of my heroes alters the
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virus slightly and what happens is it killed everybody who is not at least 1/8 black. turns out there's all the so-called white people who survived. and me surviving -- >> host: elayne has been waiting in st. louis. welcome to the conversation. >> caller: thank you for facilitating this most appreciated and outstanding program, and thank you, especially walter mosley, for sharing your art, humor and expertise on this most uplifting easter sunday program.
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your words are truly a godsend. i enjoyed your comments, the science fiction, you are welcome. i would like to flip the switch to my most recent read, down -- "down the river unto the sea". i found that very and lightning. i love the way you read the character's name into the story. i found it so humorous. then obeah price, color pictures of an elegant elder, i love the way you stimulated my vocabulary. i could go on and on. i wanted to ask about this quote because it was deep. the main character, the fallen
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police officer i forgot his name. a long list from the library. >> host: king oliver? >> guest: king oliver. he said following them, proves to me that i am a civilized man, and that got me thinking. i live in the inner city of st. louis. you have been here. i have seen you. i followed it too. that was such a powerful statement. it wrapped up everything to me. i hope i am on the right track. in order for us to live and to be proud of this colored
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experience, we have to embrace those rules and stand for those, but let's hold those rules accountable. and i on the right track? >> guest: you are absolutely on the right track. one of the things is he is following the rules, he's following the rules for the police department and for order in new york. he slowly discovered not all the police were following. he finds himself alone and in following the rules, he's going to be breaking the rules. if he follows the rules which he has always done, he's always going to be breaking another set of unspoken rules. >> jennifer in oakland, california, you are next.
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>> reporter: hi, greta and walter mosley. i love c-span. i watch it especially on "in depth". my question is i love that lapel pin. i wonder if it has any specific -- i love your work. i love your work. >> guest: my pen is part of my work, another part of it. it doesn't have significance other than eyesight and, i was in an airport and i saw it and went i love that pen and i never see people wearing it. i'm going to buy it and i love it. i don't own a dalmatian. i do love the pen. and my ring. thank you. my ring is another thing, it is from ghana, 200 years old.
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and very small. i got it, you got to get me. a collector of african antiquities. >> host: let's go to teresa in fairburn, georgia. >> guest: thank you for accepting my call. i first went to say to walter mosley that i love you. i had to say it and there it is. i also love your writing. when i am reading your books i always feel like i am right there with the characters and i love that about your books. the question i have is could you or would you offer suggestions or advice for developing dialogue for characters? >> guest: sure. i have that.
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i talk about that, i say things that i say now but i will say now, one thing i find about writing in general and writing dialogue specifically is when we write, that is what experience, one way we do things. we write and we put the words down, those words are not reflective of our oral experience. when i finished writing a section of the novel or the whole novel, at some point i sit down and i read the whole thing into a tape recorder. i read everything. when you read dialogue out loud you go, oh, wow, no one would really talk like this, or that is great, or i need to shift to that around or make it shorter. a lot of the critique you can make of the writing you can do by yourself by reading it out loud.
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>> host: anita, elk grove road, what state are you in? >> illinois. >> host: missouri. go ahead. >> caller: hello, walter mosley but i can't tell you how i enjoyed to be speaking to you. i'm most nervous. thank you for the pin you are wearing, that is the coolest thing. i remember him specifically saying my stingy grandma, always remember that. i wanted to say as a black woman who has been writing all my life for some reason or another, i see you are going to put out this book for writing. one of my questions, everyone said you need to get an agent, do this if you're going to be published, self published. how do you get that down on the paper and get it to someone? how does that happen? i know every time i write something on facebook with my
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friends, you need to write a book. now, looking at how do i switch this up? i don't see that many black women writers anymore. i see a few. as a boomer, people think the lights we had in the 70s and 80s are insignificant and they want to move on and that is what i know is what i write about. >> guest: if it is good writing people read it anyway. if it is about ancient romans or ethiopians or 10,000 years in the future. if they like the writing, they like the story, it is about humanity, don't worry about the subject. the book i wrote already and put out or 12 years ago, this year you write your novel, i think is good but a lot of ways to go about it. you can look up self publication.
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there are a few -- aal bc is one organization that helps with self-publishing. another thing is if you read a book and you like that book and you think that your writing is somewhat like what that book was, you can call the publisher, get to the editor, ask who represents that writer and call that agent and tell the agent i think i have written something that is like this other book you represented and how can i get it to you? they will usually say center for chapter and let's take a look and we will see if that is true. also, taking courses in writing classes, you need other people who are trying to do the same thing who will share that information and teachers often have that information. you might not need the class but you need to meet those people. there are a variety of ways to
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go about it. >> host: what about writing conferences? ronald rushing met you. i met walter mosley, he writes, was featured in a photo with him at the black writers conference at the university back in the day around 1997. it was wonderful he said. toni morrison was also there and i met the great gwendolyn brooks and many black writers at the same event. >> host: the conference is a good. >> guest: you go to different lectures and panels and meet people and talk to people and kind of pick up things you don't even know you are learning at that time. there is a great writers happening across the street from where we are at thriller fest next to grand central station where they teach you how to pitch to agents, they have agents to talk to.
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it is called thrillerfesta. that is a really good thing to go to and they share a lot of information. >> host: we cover the black writers conference march 22nd through the 26th and that is airing next weekend beginning at 1:30 eastern time. we will hear from willie next in waco, texas. hi, willie. >> caller: good afternoon. walter mosley, happy easter to you and the young commentator working with you. i watch booktv often on weekends. never have called in to see stand before, years of years of watching but today as i was watching c-span, i was fascinated.
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iran to my phone and i was determined to talk to you. my question to you is again, happy for both of you and feel so blessed today, the day god rose from the grave. my question is what do you do for recreational things like fishing, going to the free market on the weekend? do you like to hunt rabbits? work in your flower bed? that is my question to you. >> guest: thank you very much. i live in new york, flowerbeds, or rabbits either. i draw. i really enjoy drying. i'm really bad at it but i've been doing it for 50 years and it is kind of a release.
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i like -- just being out in the streets with people and doing things. i go to events a lot. last night i went to a play which was a lot of fun called king playing at the public theater. a friend of mine was in the play and i really enjoyed that. one of the interesting things is the thing i love doing the most is writing. i love it. anything that has to do with writing and me writing and the people writing i am really doing it. >> host: what about cooking? you write a lot about it. >> guest: my dad cooked everyday when i was a kid and i cook every day now, every day. it is like something you do that you have to do, like drinking water. it is really good if you are dying of thirst but you drink water every day anyway. not that i enjoy it but it is something i do.
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i like to cook, i love how foods work and how they work everywhere, the places that have great food in new york and mexico and new orleans. i love good food. >> host: from being able to put a meal on the table 5 minutes after -- >> guest: that is the same thing. i am a gourmet cook. i cook once every month. i have special things all over the place and i open the refrigerator and there should be something i can make a meal out of and the meal might be different than anything i cooked before but that is the housewife's relationship to cooking. my job is to feed these people, not to aggrandize myself. my job is to make sure you are eating. it has to be something that is good for you and something you like enough to eat.
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>> host: darrell in cleveland, ohio. >> caller: it is an honor to speak to you today. i have been a dedicated fan of c-span for over 20 years now. walter mosley, you are the voice of the voiceless. when i saw the movie always outnumbered and always outdone i had to cry because you are speaking to the heart of so many people that no one listened to us. i think about the movie angela's ashes and he wrote about the irish and their plate. i wanted to say to you that god bless you, keep doing what you are doing. when i think of you, i think of toni morrison and bill hooks and hours walker and norman
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mailer as well as carlos santana. i saw him on an interview once and he said he feels miles davis is a vessel for miles davis. i see that you are a vessel too for so many young writers. you give us inspiration. i am an artist myself. i love to cook too but i love to grill. such a pleasure to see people enjoy the food i put together knocking pots and pans around in minutes and seeing their response. on this one occasion, i saw where our's market was on booktv and one lady called in tears and that you gave me a hug. she said i was hooked on drugs and now i am a counselor for this community service. the woman started crying and the host started to cut her off
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and she says let her speaking. she says honey, when you hugged me you hugged me like my grandmother would and gave me inspiration to get up off the ground and start walking like a real woman and she says i was doing some bad things in the streets and alice walker literally said to hurt your tears are window washers to the soul. your writings are the window washers to our hearts. thank you so much for what you have done all these years. >> guest: thank you, appreciate it. >> host: for those who haven't read always outnumbered always outgunned, tell us about that story. >> guest: i will but i want to say one thing to him and anyone listening. i know most of the people he listed, not everyone but almost everyone i met. one of them i know pretty well
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is sonia sanchez. i was walking across the street at grand central station with her one day, 10,000 people were there, she is 4 foot 11 or something and some guy, very tall young black man in a uniform, 6 something, he sees her and she says yes, dear? takes him by his hand. he starts talking about his sister and his sister, she was pregnant, the guy disappeared and moved on and sonja cut him off. does she want to have that baby? yes, i think she does. she wrote down her phone number. this is my phone number. i'm getting on the train and i will be in philadelphia tonight by 11:00, you have her call me and we are going to talk about that is the thing i respect. she is so extraordinary, such a wonderful individual. she is there in the world for the people.
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her poetry is in the world for the people which is just a wonderful thing. you have great poets like t.s. eliot who i love the peoples poet is gates. gates wrote about what the irish were experiencing and if you write about what is real, you exhort more from that. >> host: what were you thinking when the collar was comparing you? >> guest: hard to think that stuff about yourself. you are going to life in a pedestrian kind of way and you know your flaws and i am not this and not that but again, it is something i try to do. my work tries to do it and it is true for sonja and so many other people. >> host: how did you do that?
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>> guest: always outnumbered, he really did committed, spent 27 years in prison, he is out and trying to be better, a young boy who is also committed a terrible crime, figures this out, he finds this kid and the kid and the kid knows. and he has to become a better person himself. it is close to the bone, really impoverished. and he will not be the printer the king or millionaire, but some but he trying to live from day today in their own reality. >> host: the main character? >> guest: socrates, struggling, to be a better person.
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his own nature which is pretty violent, his own guilt for the things he has done. to help it could be a better person, i have to be a better person. i have to forgive myself. >> host: jd in toledo, ohio. >> thanks to the innovative brian lamb. what does he think of george gm james, does he think the tragic 9/11 tragedy deserves examination? does it merit writing about? and 3. why is there a 100 year limit
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on george w. bush's library in texas? thank you for taking the call. >> guest: i don't know the answer to some of those questions. the central question which opens itself for kind of a general interpretation is about 9/11 and that, i find -- i think most events that happen in the world deserve self-examination. meaning to say what is my part in the world in general. how do my actions, my representation, my people, my gender, how do all those things inform what is happening in the
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world? politics in a broad sense verifies people. there are people who deserve to be vilified and fought against and struggled against. it is more important for me to figure out after i come to those conclusions, the war on terrorism or whatever, how is my everyday action contributing to the pain in the world and if i'm unable to assuage that pain, can i make a better world? sometimes you have to fight, you have to kill, you have to blow up things but doing that won't make a better world. it might make one safer, might achieve revenge in some ways. what we have to do in the end is make a better world which is helping rather than hurting.
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>> host: olivia, welcome to the conversation. >> caller: i have to thank walter mosley, years ago when i was as a librarian, i can't even remember which book it was, most mouth out of the hospital and i was so distressed, wondered what happens to those characters. i loaded the letter, but he wrote back. and eventually -- i appreciate that. i wanted to talk about always outnumbered, always outgunned and walking the dog. still asking for recommendations and i recommend socrates, two great american
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philosophers of the 20th century, john wooden had a very different view and the other was socrates and i told people to read those two books. i just wanted to thank you for everything you have written. especially those characters who struck me to such an extent. >> guest: i wanted to say there is a third collection which i think is okay too, it follows socrates and i appreciate that. >> host: why did you decide, leave the question out there that mouse could be dead? >> guest: i don't know why i thought that. it is almost freestyle, i am just writing and writing and mild gets shot.
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i never thought he was dead. he is taken out of the hospital and unbeknownst to us, he is taken to mama joe. if anyone can raise the but from the dead it is mama joe and she does. there was a moment. mouse was so powerful inside the books, i had to get rid of him for a while so he could stand on his own and i could figure him out on his own. that worked for me doing that. >> host: following that book, easy is trying to figure out whether he's alive or dead. why is that important to the character? >> guest: for one, it allows mouse to be there for the audience but at the same time it is easy making decisions and understanding who he is. >> host: greta in mount vernon,
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indiana. >> guest: that is correct. thank you to booktv. i want to thank walter mosley for being so gracious and articulate during his interview. i first heard of walter mosley as a mystery writer for bill clinton a number of years ago in an interview, the early days of his presidency. i was curious, and went out and checked out "devil in a blue dress". did that give you a boost in your recognition as an author and the writer. or other people who cherish you as one of their favorite writers? >> guest: there are a lot of people who like my writing, some are kind of well-known. i have given books to all kinds
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of people all over the spectrum. i think the impact, did have a big impact on my prayer and it was -- whenever i would go somewhere and someone would ask would you like to talk a while? he is the one clinton like to. i will talk to him. all around the world, i am not sure how many books it sold, probably denzel washington sold more books. regardless of that, the political and journalistic world paid more attention to me because of clinton. >> host: which book sold the most? >> guest: i have no idea. probably "devil in a blue dress". i can't think of anything that would have sold more than that but could be another book.
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a lot of those books, i don't know. >> host: we would go to linda next in spokane, washington. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i enjoy the program and appreciate this opportunity. i work in a small bookstore and i love talking about your books with customers. i love your writing primarily because you are able to talk about a lot of different communities, obviously not a part of. and help us understand people. you also at the same time manage to write about the human condition and it covers everyone so we can all relate to it as well. i could go on and on. i want to ask you, you mentioned a couple times, where ideas come from in your sleep, sometimes i get the same thing from the little bit of writing
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that i do. i see advice that says right for yourself, not for the reader. i just wondered if you could comment on that, if there is a balance you find in your own writing or if you lean one way or the other. >> thank you for working in an indie bookstore and keeping in the bookstores alive, it is important for literature. big gigantic bookstores are good to have. amazon is good to have but there has to be that personal relationship, you going to the bookstore and talking to somebody about books they like and books you like. it is important. when people ask me who is your audience? i tell them this. i had a favorite named alberto jackson who was older than i
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was and she was a wonderful woman. she made great hamburgers, she would out hug me when we were watching monster movies at night. i imagine i'm in a train talking to alberta and she says what is that friend of yours, that mouse, what is he doing? i know he is. i would tell her the story about mouse. my audience is somebody sitting behind us overhearing the conversation of me talking to alberta. that is how i figure it. i imagine the best possible light to illuminate my story which is alberta. i tell her the story and anybody else who hears it i am sure they will like it. >> host: who are you talking to in little scarlet, when you write about the riots? this is easy rollins with the white principle of the school
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he works that? he is explaining to her about the right and you write this. if you come from down in houston or harlem every so you come upon has been threatened and beaten and jailed. if you have kids they will be beaten. .. that's exactly the anger. i was writing about the right and remembered them quite well. i was in los angeles, the original and 65. i remember it so well and remember the experience, and it's so funny because so many
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other people just didn't understand because they didn't understand what was going on in those peoples lives. they said why are you writing? everything is fine. i can with everything at that moment was not fine. that's not enough reason to riot. riot. but nothing had ever been fun. people have been lynched, burned, enslaved, beaten and killed. people were excluded from all kinds of jobs and all kinds of institutions and all kinds of spaces. my father used to tell me when he was in fifth award and fats would come to houston the first five nights it was only for white audience. it was only on the last night on the six night that a black audience could come in here fats. fats. i said that's terrible. it was, walter, but it didn't matter because every night of
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the first of night after he finished playing for the white people he would come down to some juke joint in fifth ward and he would play for us all night long. even the fact you have to do that, it makes you happy and that makes you angry. and everybody was angry and that was something, part of writing this book was to kind of explicate that anger. >> host: did the riots change anything? >> guest: it changed a lot. back then nobody really aware of the anger of black people because they were not in anybody's life, ever. but after riots happened somebody would say, well, does everybody down there feel like this? most people down here, 90% of them feel like this. there's another 10% who are really mad. so that caused the country to think, we have to change. that brought a lot of change.
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not enough but it brought about a lot and a lot of things got different in america. helping people opening doors that had been closed. a lot has happened which a lot of people said the riots are terrible, stupid people to burn down their own neighborhoods but actually made a big difference in america. >> host: at the same time give the influence of martin luther king. >> guest: martin luther king came to los angeles after the riots. only kenneth came to talk to him in city government, and he left the next day and on the way out a reporter says well, what do you think that los angeles can do to make things better? and king said with the representatives you have, there's nothing you can do. he just left. this is a man who'd been fighting for equal rights in mississippi, alabama, but los
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angeles he said, he just threw up his hands, i'm leaving. >> host: your thoughts as we approach the 50th anniversary of his assassination next week, april 4 that is coming up. >> guest: you know, martin luther king said a a great thig once to a friend of mine. they were talking and king said, you know, as i look at the news and to see what's happening in the world, i think that we may be trying to integrate ourselves into a burning house. my friend said, well, so if that's the case, what should we do? he said, we're going to have to become fire. and that's, you know, whether it's the 50th anniversary or
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the 51st or the 37th 37th or the 120 ninth, his understanding of the duty that we, all americans have is really a very special thing. >> host: albert in chicago. >> caller: albert in chicago. >> host: that's you. >> caller: hello, hello. can you hear me? >> host: we can. go ahead, question or comment. >> caller: by, is i want to thank you for being here on each day and the, is about i didn't know he was a humanitarian. how did you become a human chain. were supposed to help each other. i'm trying to be a writer. >> guest: well, okay. when you say he, your calling martin luther king, or me? i was a little confused.
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>> host: were you talking about mr. mostly? >> caller: i was talked about mr. mosley. sounds like a humanitarian. >> guest: i certainly am. i'm a humanitarian but like i exist any certain place. i exist like what i feel is a long lineage of black male hero so i want to celebrate and i want to show the rest of the world how kind and wonderful and great these black men are and have been. as far as being a writer, listen, that's great, be a writer. the only thing you have to do to be right as far as i'm concerned it's get up and write every day for a couple of hours. do that for a year and look back at what you wrote and figure out what you're going. >> host: how did you start? you were a computer programmer. when did you decide i'm going to be a writer full-time. >> guest: one thing i keep saying is i started writing across the street from where were sitting now. i was in the old mobil oil
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building, i was computer programmer working on the weekend. i had been writing this program and dislike which called rbg and i was tired of it and so i decided to write a sentence propublica since that was on hot stick it is southern louisiana the fire ants swarmed. now, i knew that was a good life. i read a lot of books and i said that would be a good line. i knew it was fiction because i've never been appellees in at the time and i'd i've never sea fire in. i'm going to try to be a writer. i kept trying. i finally made it. >> host: who inspired you? >> guest: no one. honestly, lots, you have to say everyone. when i was a kid, when i get that i was 34. before i was 34 i never thought thought about being a writer. when i was a kid my father was the greatest storyteller. i love to because you my father and a wonderful storyteller but when we have parties can there would be 20 people around and my
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father would start telling stories to everybody would be worried or moved or whatever. i think that kind of again unconsciously my father said this this is a you should become you should cook and you should tell these stories. >> host: janet in mississippi. >> caller: hello. >> guest: hello. >> caller: i would like to know how you ever thought about any of your writings ever going to playwrights, you know, like the piedra, broadway, like august wilson. he had several hundred of his writings and so forth in theater. would you think yours would be looked at as into theaters, what have you? >> guest: i've written a couple of plays. they have been produced. i wrote a play called the fall of heaven. it got produced in six or seven
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cities, cincinnati and st. louis and chicago. and people like to them. it's kind of a difficult world. i'm always amused by place because i right place but the plays i go to nc and the place i upright are very different. right now i'm working on trying to create a musical for devil in a blue dress. i've written a book which is the play, and my friend, very talented musician and actor, he is working on the lyrics and the composition. >> host: do you have time frame? >> guest: as soon as possible. we've been working on it. we will see. hopefully we'll do a couple of readings of it this summer. >> host: great. robert in nashville, tennessee. >> caller: good, hello. my name is robert rivers and i am as you said from the
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nashville, tennessee, area originally. i am 73. i am home from greenville mississippi which in the '40s, 50s, 60s was a great literary center for the delta area, pretty well known. -- [inaudible] the owner of the delta democrats time which was a noted progressive newspaper in the south. and i have read a couple of your books, i have the last days of tommy gray and the long fall, enjoyed them both quite a bit. great collector of books. i can't get rid of them, but i am inclined toward the
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interracial relationships over the last decades, particularly because of my history being from mississippi. i was just wondering, as a writer becomes extremely well known and apparently influential, does mr. mosley feel like that there is a responsibility, major or minor, for writers to present themselves into the sociopolitical events? does he feel that just besides their individual writings and influence they would have, that personally it is positive or negative to inject their
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personal feelings outside of the writings into these events? particularly the way it is right now, thank you. >> guest: yeah, it's an interesting question. i'm like very politically active. the way writers would be, and i'm not running for office and not even supporting anybody running for office because i know better. but i try to comment on things, but the -- number one, i would never tell another writer what they should or shouldn't do, how they should talk, if they should talk, should the inject themselves or should they not. i would never say that because writers have to do what they can do. if they come to a place that i respect, great. if they don't, great. they are writers. i was on an internet television
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show recently, six months ago, a little bit more, and it would like four journalist and me or five journalists and me. i don't understand how that got done but we're all talking and everybody was talking about fake news and their mad and we had e to convince people that fake news is just a mate of term, that we're real journalist and we are saying real things. i was listening and finally i said at one point i said yes, but yet understand why, black paint in america. i've been listening to fake news for 400 years. so if there's any legacy that trump leaves behind him, it is that there is fake news. i'm right there with that, you know? i'm not sure -- i'm sure it exists, when you say fake news, define it what it means to you. >> guest: walter cronkite for years talking about vietnam as if it's some kind of sensible
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war that we're winning and we are there for a good reason and the vietnamese are really a threat to the united states. one day he just comes on says i've been saying this stuff for years but it's not true and it's not real and we are not winning. and they may not even be our enemies. the people where supporting our dictators picky just, was nice to a moment of real news after years and years and years of lies, basically. >> host: christmas black is one of the characters was a soldier who fought in vietnam, other words as well, but is he that voice, that voice? what voice is a guess is what i should ask the question? >> guest: i think christmas is an interesting character because he comes from like a military family, black military family that goes all the way back to the revolution revolution were, american revolution and even
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fighting and deepen part of the army and had done all the stuff and he's at the very end of that and he is kind of floundered, kind of saying the saying that we're so proud of is the sin with committed. he doesn't even know how to deal with it. and a wonderful moment to have somebody say i have been wrong. it's the hardest thing, i've been wrong. i have thought this, i have said, dentist but i'm wrong. >> host: he fought in vietnam,, comes back. what's the difference between christmas black, and african-american for spot for the united states in vietnam and summary like -- who fought in world war ii and has come back? easy rollins deals patriotic when he fought. >> guest: it's an interesting thing. one of my dear friends is black
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publisher named paul coates, he is among other things the father of ta-nehisi coates but he is, he's a wonderful guy in the '60s he was the head of the panthers in baltimore, and he's done a lot. when he went to vietnam you asked him, where you against a? he said when i with her i thought i was john wayne. it's kind of wonderful for black men to think he is john wayne, and he's fighting for liberty. i think he was disabused of this notion, you know, while he was there. and he came back and his politics came up into joint the panthers, et cetera. they became i librarian and is now a publisher. i think a lot of people, especially young men want to
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believe in what they are doing in wartime, their fighting, they want to believe that the anger inside of them which is kind of natural has a reason and the purpose and patriotism. but often i it's not true. that's true for mark and all quiet on the western front. i think it's true for a lot of germans in world war ii. i think it's true for a lot of russians also in world war ii. and so i think in every war there's a moment what you may feel like wow, this was wrong, i made a mistake. sometimes not. american revolution i think people agreed the civil war, i'm not sure if either side ever thought they made a mistake, but i think many sites made a lot of mistakes before that. >> host: muhammad ali shaped
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your thinking that the vietnam war. >> guest: that was so interesting and wonderful about ali. i think that indeed he was the greatest. i'm not sure about the ring. i'm not sure if it ever really beat kenny norton or not, but i think that his ability, his physical genius which all really great sports people have, his physical genius morphed into kind of a social political genius. when he stood in front of anybody who would listen, a lot of college students, a lot of
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people in the nation of islam and other people and he said look, i'm not going to vietnam because no vietcong ever called me [bleep], right? it's poetry. coming, and the like he always did as though poetry stuff but that was more poetry than all of that rhyming stuff that he did, because it's so true. like i'm going to go kill somebody who doesn't have anything against me? for the people who have everything against me? and really, as the kids, and i'm not, i know now that he helped form my thinking, but i don't think i knew that because i think was just everywhere in at mr. >> host: you how old? >> guest: happily, when it happened, when was he -- i was probably 14, 15 years old. >> host: and you were talking the win mohammad ali was talking about the war that you didn't
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realize it was him. >> guest: there were two receptor first, i do want to get hurt. i do want to get shot or killed or anything. and second, i would have anything against those people. why would i want to go shoot some guy in vietnam? what sense is a? it so far away i can't even imagine it. of course he's the one who told me that. >> host: trick, you on the air with walter mosley. >> caller: yes, thank you for taking my call. mr. mostly, personal, i want to thank you for the earlier comment you made on reading, that was -- i take that as as w quote for my life. i have two questions. i want to ask how do those characters compared to what happened 20 years ago and what
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is happening today? and then the other question i have is how would you describe white privilege? and can black people develop black privilege? because abraham lincoln said at one time that privilege comes with power, and that almost every man can withstand adversity, but if you want to test the character of a man, give him power. i just need to hear your input on that. also tell you today that you just changed my life. you mentioned you a computer programmer i'm an engineer and have always thought about writing, but i never took interest in the political or literary reading. but after listening to you, for some reason i don't watch this station that often. something pushed me to listen to
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today, so what to thank you and may god bless you. and i want you to keep on going with what you were doing. >> host: all right, patrick. >> guest: the first thing about what happened 20 years ago, and today, i don't think there's a lot of difference. i think the way i look at the world, the germans lament world war ii but the americans are happy about it. the americans lament the vietnamese war because it was a mistake and boy, the war in iraq was really a mistake. we begin to think this. i kind of forgot the second question. >> host: white privilege. >> guest: white privilege, that's it. white privilege is different at different times. it was a time when people in america would say i'm free white and over two and one and that meant they could do anything. i am free, white and over 21, i could do anything. that was then.
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today white privilege is a long ago, faraway dream that a lot of what people are really, so-called white people are really unhappy about. they think i used to be in control. i used to have everything. i used to be able to work hard and do this and do that and retire and take care of my kids and everything was fine, and that is been taken away. and it is true, it has been taken away. it was, we never had it really, but so-called white america did have it. white privilege has become more of a fantasy or a long-ago memory that a reality. there is rich privilege, that's for sure. there's rich privilege what a think that is all there is to it. that the rich have privilege and everybody else kind of thinks wistfully about the past, make america great. >> host: is it capitalism that
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i guess created it and may have destroyed it? >> guest: i think both. i think that early occurrences of capitalism where you want land, we will just kill all the natives were on the land and then it's yours, or you want to build farms and plantations and houses and roads, we'll just take whole bunch of slaves and just make them do it and you don't have to pay them. they have nothing, but you have everything. i think that's the early part of the that's when it got built, and now you have today where more and more of the wealth is in the hands of very few, and welcome people think wealth is limitless but it is not. wealth is built on labor and labor is finite. then wealth is also finite.
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if the average income of every person in the world is let's say should be $80,000, that means anybody in the world should and $80,000 this year. but if a person has $100,000 or $200,000 or a billion dollars or $200 billion, those dollars to come out of the pockets of all the $80,000 evil. more and more that wealth combined in the middle and aggregates are there, then the four and poor anybody else is in the wealth reflects this, their wealth reflects this. in china it's a little worse than it is here, but here no one has enough money. >> host: would our history be different if we lived, if we had a different institution, socialism? >> guest: i'm not sure that socialism is. you know, it would be good to
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say there is capitalism and socialism but i don't think that's true. we have to be aware of the system of wealth. as soon as you have abstract forms like money, banks, interest, you have capitalism. it doesn't matter if it's called socialist, i.e. china, or a monarchy. it doesn't matter. as soon as you have like printed money and somebody is making profit by moving that money around, then you have capital. the thing is that we have to be aware of the systems we work at and we have to control it in such a way that not all of the wealth is siphoned out of our pockets. that's the thing. it is certainly not like people taking it from white people and will it's not why people take it from black people to it's the institution itself taking, and we have to have more control
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over that. >> host: let's get a few more phone calls. sean who is in hawaii. are you with us? >> caller: yes. >> host: go ahead. >> caller: i have them do not have to ask a deep question. [inaudible] if you one -- [inaudible] what we did be? how to drinking influence your writing before and now that you don't drink. >> guest: what would i -- >> host: last mill. >> guest: blue crab gumbo, no question. fried okra, shrimp, blue crab gumbo, deathly the last.
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i hated it was my last mill but i love that. the other question was -- >> host: i'm blanking now, too. maybe it will come to us. let's go to john in new york. john, go ahead. >> caller: good morning. mr. mosley, it's a pleasure to have you in my house today. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: thank you very much. i get interested, i get introduced to you. i would like you to speak more about that book. i said that book should be, when i read the first book as soon as i get finished i read it again. i've it over. i regret behind and to read that book since because it was so enlightening to me because it transcended race and everything. i mean, he used those to describe your characters, but i
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always said that book should be translated into every of the language in the will because it gave me such a perspective. to bring people together and didn't enlighten me very much and i thank you for taking my question. >> guest: thank you. thank you very much. if there's any book, , my favore book it probably is "blue light." i only say that because it's the only book i've written that it read again. it's like i just sit and insight okay, i do really enjoy it. why i wrote it was that i'm not in any way a religious or spiritual person. i'm not. i'm not. i would like to be up but i'm not. i'm kind of like i believe like in a materialistic pragmatic universe, with one exception. i believe in the soul, and the notion of the soul.
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i just feel like i have one. i feel like my thoughts, my personality, my identity transcends my existence. i wanted to write about it without any confusion about religion or spiritualism or stuff like that. in writing "blue light" of one to get to place, as a moment and "blue light" where the person is walking back and forth considering who he is inside, with his essence is. and i think i got there in that walking back and forth. and i wrote a whole book in order to write that, writing the planets and the light hitting the earth and how it transforms people into superior but not necessary better parts of themselves. so thank you. that's why i wrote it. i still love it. >> host: the second part of the question was about drinking and have influenced your writing
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while you were drinking and now it influence your writing now that you don't drink. >> guest: i do drink. i did drink and i didn't write back in, so it didn't matter. and then i didn't drink and for most of the time i didn't like but then i started writing, you know, and i was just writing and it wasn't drinking. now i still come by writing a drinking state very far apart. like i will never, if i drink i'm not going to be writing. >> host: why? >> guest: because i get foggy, not more specific. i know a lot of writers who seem to be held in emotionally somewhat, drink and it frees them to express. other poets say that. that's never been my experience. >> host: kenneth in richmond, virginia. , hello. i enjoy your writings, but one thing he did for me to connect
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with my fathers generation. on the baby boomer and when i read about all those characters after looking at the janitor i knew in the school and my father generations of tripoli. i've wondered how we able to connect with the generation and write stories about them? i just saw them as older people. >> guest: that wasn't my experience. my experience was when i was kid, i was born in 52 there when i i was a kid, who couldn't really, they wouldn't let me go outside by myself. i was run by relatives a relatives were select interesting. they told these wild stories about fifth ward houston, texas, about world war ii and the trouble, i remember my father told me one day they gone down to galveston in this big old car with four guys and their party all night and now it's next morning, three of the guys are sleeping so you can't even see the link i striving and that the
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contracts in front like in the car and another car comes up right behind the and the company says i think we've got trouble. sure enough the guy in front hit his brakes so that this topic the other car jumps and both guys come out at the front going back with guns but then all four doors like fly open and all the guys in the car come out with their guns. it's texas, and doing it again. the other guys get all good and jump in the car is in trouble. these are the kinds of stories they told me. they held their aspirations, their dreams, their humor and those the stores i wanted to tell, why were you not allowed to go outside by yourself? >> guest: i was like three. or five or like seven. you could go outside a little bit but after like two minutes, walter, where are you? i'm here, that. come back in here. then i would listen to more stories. was great. >> host: what impact did your mom have on your? >> guest: my mother is an interesting case.
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she loved me really deeply but she kind of headache psychological thing where she couldn't express affection it was really, it was kind of interesting. she was incredibly smart. she went to -- she graduated from hunter high school either late 15 or 16 and she graduated hunter college when she was 20. really was smart and really, really independent. she was from los angeles, she was married to a guy, one of the richest guys in los angeles at the time named novak. she was with him but then she took a job because he's a a socialist so she took the job because had to the right thing. she met my father. she told me once, she said i met your father and i realized i didn't love my husband. and so i left him and i married your father the it was really kind of, really like in quotes white jewish woman in the late
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'40s, early '50s, to leave all that wealth to marry this black man, that took a lot of character, you know, and a little craziness also i think. i think that attention to doing or you are and what you want, i get from my mother. >> host: how did she or both her mother and your father influence your thought on not seeing caller? use a white in quotes. >> guest: the idea that somebody, it's a mate up, the notion of the color lines was a colonization tactic. read people we kill, black people we enslave. we are the white people. it's ridiculous. it's like, it's so silly.
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i sit at a table with 12 so-called black people. not one of us is the same color. like what, but we say. are you black? i say yes, but obviously like what kind of sense does it make? it makes sense but only in the insanity of the asylum that i'm living in, you know? it doesn't make sense. i don't know, like if my parents gave me that or not, you know. they certainly were not worried about it. and los angeles in will importantly as sacred as it is, it is mostly segregated by class but when it comes to we were, everybody works together. you could say i'm not going to work with a mexican. okay, that means you're going to quit because i'm going to hire everybody who can work because they were golden los angeles. they were building filet. they did have time to say i'm going to pick and choose among my laborers. >> host: what is next for you,
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walter mosley? >> guest: i have my book coming out, i'm very excited about that. that will be really good. i just, i was at the public the last and him and into the guy who is pretty much running this series that just wrote an episode for, it's a snowfall john singleton series but a tiny tommy is the guy who's running it and he told me last night that it would like the episode i would. i'm very excited about that and is going to be out soon. michael told you i'm trying to do devil and a blue dress as a musical. i'm also trying to we make it as a movie. you know, i'm working on, and a lot of terrific ones. i'm writing a book and i'm writing the next installment on how to write a novel. i'm calling it the structure of


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