Dirt Nap Rhapsody - Jules Cassard
I always enjoy it when authors combine genres successfully. You get the best of all your favorite types of books in one. So what do you get when you combine a murder mystery, crime thriller, romance, and humor? You get Dirt Nap Rhapsody.
This book jumps perspectives and for the first few chapters, it takes some adjustment. But once I was able to get into the flow of how it was written, I didn't have any issues keeping up or following the change in perspectives.
I found the characters to be amusing and endearing, the plot to be well paced, and the entire work enjoyable. I could definitely see this put into production on the stage. I think it would be quite entertaining and would provide a lot of laughs. Overall a great work -- albeit a little unpredictable.
Some Bio Information
As a popular radio and television personality in his hometown of New Orleans, Jules Cassard knows how to tell a good story. In fact, he considers that experience as well as his seven years performing theatrically with the National Comedy Company to be at least as important to his writing abilities as his Degree in English Literature from the University of New Orleans. That may be why his satirical style of crime fiction has been described as "a unique blend of the comic and the tragic" and "the best kind of black humor." Jules Cassard is the author of several short stories such as "The Inanimates" and "A Codependent Pistol" as well as the plays "Stuck Together" and "First Impression." He lives in New Orleans with his wife and two children. "Dirt Nap Rhapsody" is his first novel.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
As a playwright I often come up with ideas for scenes, or one-act plays, without intending on expanding them beyond that. Sometimes though, an idea naturally grows bigger than that and becomes a full-length play. This was the first time one of those grew even bigger than that and became a novel.
The initial idea was of a man being led to his execution, but instead of appearing sullen or afraid, looking very content and satisfied and blowing kisses and happily waving to a mysterious figure on the other side of the two-way mirror. I wanted to know who these two people were, and suddenly that moment became an afterthought as their story came alive.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
As I suggested above I try to come up with interesting ideas and just let them exist in their best form. Sometimes the initial form I try isn’t the best one, so I write very freely at first trying to see where it goes. Often it goes nowhere, which just means it’s not finished yet, but when it goes somewhere it becomes an adventure piecing together the best possible version of the story.
For this book, I ended up cutting out the first 40 to 50 pages very deep into the process, but in a way those pages are still the most important, because without them the actual story never would have materialized.
3. Who is your favorite fictional character?
Tough one, but I’m going with “Virginia”, the mysterious call girl from Elliot Chaze’s “Black Wings Has My Angel.” The dynamic between her and Tim Sunblade is so entertaining, and she’s such a mysterious and complex character. Her past drips out so slowly during the story that you almost feel like you’re in the author's shoes, creating a fully realized character piece by piece in your mind.
4. How would you describe your writing style?
I’ve been criticized at times for not being descriptive enough, not necessarily painting a picture in the reader’s mind, and I know that there is the type of reader who craves that type of writing, but as a reader myself my pet peeve has always been having to wade through paragraphs and paragraphs of details about the colors of the walls and whatnot, and I always wanted to scream at the book “WHO CARES!!!!”
The issue was probably exacerbated by the fact that one of my favorite writers is Raymond Chandler, who can go on for pages at a time describing the scenery. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not my thing. So in the battle of the Raymonds I personally much prefer Chandler, but my writing style is more akin to Carver. Besides, I do a lot of inner monologues, and when’s the last time you thought in detail about the type of fabric on a chair in the room during an inner monologue? Exactly.
5. What’s your favorite scene that you’ve written?
From Dirt Nap Rhapsody it’s definitely the banter in the car between Tag and Lori before, during, and after Tag’s return to the scene of the crime to clean up. For some reason that dialogue just leapt out of my brain and onto the page so naturally that I wrote that entire section in one day. And the scene has stayed largely intact since the first draft. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it happens it feels great.
6. Why did you choose to write from different perspectives throughout the book?
As I mentioned earlier the idea started as a short dramatic piece, and I liked where the story was going but I kept thinking that from Tag’s naïve point of view, many of the supporting characters looked much less complex than they actually were. I knew that the main thrust of the story had to be from his point of view, but I also began to think that just because Tag was missing so much, that didn’t mean the reader had to miss it too. So I decided that I needed to give other characters a voice as well. I was murdering many of them after all, so I felt it was the least that I could do.
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
To create stories that are memorable and enjoyable to read with characters who are relatable to the reader even if some of the situations that they find themselves in are not. Also some money would be nice.