Earl Javorsky makes poetry out of pulp, and magic out of the mundane.
Earl Javorsky is unlike any other writer I’ve ever read, or met, even though so far I only know him via online communications, and of course, his brilliantly conceived and constructed fiction. The closest comparison is the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. But even then, Earl’s voice is so unique and his protagonist and plot so distinctively their own that even that lazy yardstick snaps in half with only a little pressure. Perhaps a more obscure but more accurate reference point would be William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel, the basis for the 1987 film Angel Heart, starring Mickey Rourke.
But even then...
Earl’s prose is lean and mean in the best hardboiled tradition, a la Dashiell Hammett or James M. Cain, but the relatable humanity of his bizarre universe’s inhabitants are akin to the works of Charles Bukowski. Basically, his well-crafted words go down easy, but seep deep into our sub-consciousness, sticking with us long after the final sip, like a finely mixed literary cocktail. For fans of outre yet accessible fiction, it’s all downright intoxicating.
I’ve read both of his Charlie Miner novels so far, Down Solo and Down to No Good, and his pulpy blend of metaphysics and mystery is right up, or down, my dark alley. While the idea of a supernatural detective may sound derivative, Earl proves that the best and only way to distinguish oneself in this crowded community is to simply, well, be yourself.
Which brings me back to my original point: you’ve never met or read anyone of anything like this guy….
You’ve carved a unique niche for yourself as an author, blending mystery with the supernatural, horror with noir. Do you feel hybrid blends are the wave of the future in a marketplace overstuffed with conventional crowd-pleasers aimed at very specific, pre-sold demographics?
This kind of hybrid is a strange beast that’s lurked at the edges for some time now: think Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, with Occasional Music, Brian Evenson’s Last Days, or Michael Gruber’s Detective Paz novels—especially Tropic of Night, where you’re not even sure if he’s crossing a line into the supernatural or if there’s a mundane explanation for the weirdness.
Incidentally, I should probably quibble with your use of the word horror as part of my genre-mashup. Some would call it a hardboiled/paranormal mashup, but I prefer to call it metaphysical noir. There are no clowns in the sewers, nor sharpened teeth or copious amounts of blood, and the soundtrack would have no shrieking.
Your professional resume includes stints in the music, software, and "chemical entertainment" fields. You’re also originally from Berlin. Does this background diversity account for the fact that you won’t pigeonhole your work to a single formula, or how does it all inform and influence your work?
I have had the great good fortune of living (at least) two lives in one lifetime. In my former incarnation, I tried to make it as a musician in Los Angeles, using that as an excuse to claw my way up the ranks in the dope world. The whole enterprise just about killed me. It also became the well I would draw from for characters, scenes, and plot lines.
Beyond blending disparate elements, what’s your advice for standing out in an online literary crowd that seems to be growing exponentially, especially with the growing popularity off self-publishing, from both a creative and marketing perspective?
I often refer to myself as an unrepentant recidivist blurb whore. I have pestered many people—my literary betters—and a few have been very generous. It’s been a process of building credibility. Has it translated into sales and visibility? No, but it’s actually satisfying on its own. My publisher talks about “building a brand”—something you’ve done a terrific job at, Will—but I haven’t stumbled across the magic ingredient that will take me up a level or two. Or, perhaps, my work is so fringe that it’s simply not likely to gain a word-of-mouth following and gain critical mass. I think a lot of us often feel like we’re jumping up and down and waving our arms in the wilderness, going, “Hey, look at me.”
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
Well, as a member of what I’ll generically call “the recovery community,” I have heard thousands of stories, many of them deeply moving. Their common elements are honesty (mostly), tragedy, determination, failure, hopelessness, and then renewal and redemption. And humor is essential—we call laughter the music of the heart—and we find it in the most cringe-worthy moments, even though they were awful and pathetic at the time.
Then of course I can name scores of authors who have influenced me, starting with Elmore Leonard and the anti-Leonard, James Lee Burke, the first going for mean and lean, style-wise, the second for rich description. I started out a science fiction fan and still think Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the great books of the century. John le Carre, Martin Cruz Smith, Graham Greene, J.G. Ballard; I could go on and on.
In the Charlie Miner books, I explore what has always fascinated me: the mind-body connection (and disconnection) and the idea of consciousness--what is it and what happens when it’s compromised by drugs and alcohol, or trauma?
What’s next for you?
I am making a stab at a pilot screenplay of Down Solo, my first Charlie Miner book. Meanwhile, I have two books imagined, somewhat plotted, with a few pages of notes. One is a third Charlie Miner book; the other is a bigger, more conventional novel, based on a true story, involving a teenage boy and his family, a drug rip-off, Samoan Blood gangbangers, a near-fatal beating, an enraged father, and indifferent police.
Also, my friend Dave Putnam—whose name and persona I use in my Charlie Miner books—and I just did a talk/book-signing at Mysterious Galaxy in Sand Diego. The theme was Two Writers: Opposite Sides of the Law, and we plan to take it around to libraries or whoever will have us. Dave was in law enforcement for over thirty years—you name it: Patrol, SWAT, Narcotics, Homicide, Five-O. He’s exemplifies the kind of guy I had waking nightmares about, back in the day. Now we’re pals, and he’s a hell of a storyteller.
Takes one to know one. Cheers.
Daniel Earl Javorsky was born in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and novelist. His novels include Down Solo, Trust Me, and a sequel to Down Solo called Down to No Good.
Earl Javorsky can be found at www.earljavorsky.com. If anyone adds even the smallest comment to a blog, he might be inspired to write another one.