'Hog Wild:' An Interview with Author Jonathan Woods
Jonathan Woods, award-winning author and fan of absurdist pulp noir, will release Hog Wild on August 26th! A blend of “dystopian Gothic western” and “a satiric magic realism antiwar sex farce,” the book follows ex-Special Forces sniper, Ray Puzo. Hired to handle a feral hog problem on a South Texas ranch, he soon discovers that the job may be more difficult than he anticipated. The hogs have become super intelligent as a result of radiation, resulting in an epic battle between humans and hogs.
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming an author.
I spent many years as a lawyer for a high-tech company doing deals around the world—France, Japan, Mexico, and Switzerland. But I always dreamed of being a writer. So when I gave up lawyering, I started writing. My first book, Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem came out in 2010 from New Pulp Press. In 2011 it won a Spinetingler Award for Best Crime Short Story Collection and was a featured book at the Texas Book Festival at the Capital Building in Austin. As the chicken sitting on a beach lounge in Maui said: “After they told me I was a free-range chicken, I never looked back.” Hog Wild is my fifth book and third novel.
What inspired you to write Hog Wild?
Well, feral hogs are very destructive to the environment. And since we humans are also busy destroying the planet, it seemed fitting that humans and super-intelligent hogs should face off in the wilds of Texas in an epic battle for survival. As the renowned Florida noir writer wrote about Hog Wild: “Men are pigs and pigs are men in Jonathan Woods’ rambunctiously clever romp of a novel...this is dystopian pulp-noir to smack your lips over.” That pretty much sums it up. Of course, Orwell’s Animal Farm, which I read a million years ago back in high school, might have planted a seed.
What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?
Once I figured out that the super hogs had to appear on page 1 of the book, Hog Wild pretty much wrote itself. No character studies. No plot outline. I just wrote it over about a one-year period. My writing technique is to review and revise the previous day’s work before writing new pages. I was also in a 4-member writers’ group which forced me to write daily since I didn’t want to show up for a critique session with no new pages. I will say that writing three hundred pages is a tough row to hoe. That’s why I also love writing short stories. Two to three weeks of intense work.
What do you think are the essential elements of a great dystopian pulp-noir?
The key is coming up with a way the world ends that no one else has used before. Like super-intelligent feral hogs. Also, a forward thrust of plot and lots of sex.
How do you celebrate when you finish a book?
With a very loud “whew!” But the real celebration comes when I publisher accepts it for publication—not an easy thing in today’s lit world. I’ve never had the luck or perseverance to find an agent. So all my books have been published by small presses that accept unsolicited manuscripts. But hey, the Odelisk small press before WWII and its successor small press, the Olympia Press after WWII (both located in Paris) published some of the great books of 20th century English literature, including Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, The Rock Pool by Cyril Connelly, Watt, Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy and William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Barry Gifford’s Wild at Heart, a very funny, tongue-in-cheek road-trip novel, has been a major influence. It’s a short novel and I read it every couple of years. And Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels for the over-the-top metaphors—though I’ve never written a private dick novel. The closest in my first novel, A Death in Mexico, which is a police procedural about which Michael Connelly wrote: “Jonathan Woods has arrived. A Death in Mexico is a great and telling ride south of the border into madness and mayhem. I loved it.”
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
I’m currently working on a new book of short stories, my third. You can find some of the stories at the following literary sites:
How can readers keep in touch with you?