Richard Lange’s new book, the wonderful Angel Baby, just came out, and I was lucky enough to get him to
submit to my interrogation answer a few of my questions about the book, and more! Please welcome Richard to the blog!
Richard, your brand new thriller, Angel Baby, just came out. Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I was born in Oakland, California and grew up in small towns in the state’s San Joaquin Valley. I moved to L.A. at 17 to attend film school and never left. After graduating, I ended up working in publishing for a long, long time. I was managing editor of a heavy metal music magazine called RIP and a radio industry trade newspaper called Radio & Records. About seven years ago I able to quit my day job and begin writing full-time. It’s still touch-and-go, but I’m hanging in there.
I’ve written from as far back as I can remember. Stories, poems, plays. I got serious about it in college, started sending things out, but didn’t get my first story published until I was 32 years old and my first book at 44. All that time I was writing stories and sending them out, getting rejected, reworking the stuff, and sending it out again. It was a long row to hoe, but my stubbornness eventually paid off.
Angel Baby is about a desperate woman on the run. Will you tell us a bit about the book, and its protagonist, Luz?
Angel Baby is structured around a chase that begins in the first chapter and runs throughout the entire book. Luz is the wife of a mid-level drug lord who keeps her a virtual prisoner in his Tijuana mansion. Luz decides to return to the U.S. and reclaim a baby daughter she left with relatives in Los Angeles. Her escape doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, and she ends up on the run, being pursued by some very evil men.
The book is action-packed, but I also took the time to develop the characters, both good guys and bad guys, so that you end up feeling a little bit of sympathy for everyone you meet in the course of the novel.
Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write Angel Baby?
My inspiration was a story in the L.A. Times about a white burnout who was smuggling illegals over the border for a Mexican pollero. As I started to develop the story, Luz appeared and ended up becoming the main character of the novel.
What, or who, has influenced your writing the most?
Writers who influenced my work include, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Raymond Carver, David Mamet, Denis Johnson, and Elmore Leonard. Film and music were also big influences. Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver changed the way I look at the world, and so did early records by Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Tom Waits. I was also a big punk rock fan. That did some damage, for sure.
ANGEL BABY is your third book, after your short story collection DEAD BOYS, and the novel THIS WICKED WORLD. Your books definitely delve into dark territory, so is there anything that you would consider off limits when it comes to “noir”?
Nothing is off-limits for a writer. That said, I’m not a fan of gore for gore’s sake or pointless sadism. In the service of a good story, though, and in the hands of a good writer, anything goes.
What do you enjoy most about writing crime fiction?
I choose to write about the people and situations I write about because it allows me to deal directly with issues like race, class, power, crime, and corruption without having to pussyfoot around too much, while at the same time entertaining my readers with a story that draws them in and keeps them interested and introduces them to characters they might not normally get to know.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
When I was a kid I read a Hemingway collection called The Nick Adams Stories. That was the first time I felt myself being mutated by a book.
When you’re not busy at work on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
I go to a lot of movies, plays, operas, and museums and see a fair bit of live music. Living in L.A., it’s easy to gorge on great art from all genres. I also work out, practice kung fu, and backpack so I don’t turn into a complete slug. I travel a lot too. I’d rather see somewhere new than drive a fancy car. My girlfriend and I just spent ten days driving around Arkansas and Missouri, and in October we’re off to Vietnam.
What’s next for you?
My agent has a new collection of short stories on his desk and is about to submit it to publishers, and I’ve started a new novel. I’m also meeting with film and TV people, but I’m not holding my breath. There are a whole bunch of folks in this town who make a living taking meetings with schmucks like me.
About ANGEL BABY:
To escape the awful life she has descended into, Luz plans carefully. She takes only the clothes on her back, a Colt .45, and all the money in her husband’s safe. The corpses in the hallway weren’t part of her plan.
Luz needs to find the daughter she left behind years earlier, but she knows she may die trying. Her husband is El Principe, a key player in a high-powered drug cartel, a business he runs with the same violence he has used to keep Luz his perfect, obedient wife.
With the pace and relentless force of a Scorsese film, ANGEL BABY is the newest masterpiece from one of the most ambitious and talented crime novelists at work today.