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Willy Vlautin perhaps first came on to people's radar with his Oregon band Richmond Fontaine. Albums like The Fitzgerald, Thirteen Cities and We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded like a River impressed for his literate lyrics, storytelling and character studies.

No surprise then when Vlautin delivered a novel, the compelling Motel Life in 2006 which was full of dark deeds, bad deals of fate, killing and flight. It was life on the margins of contemporary America, and was made into a film last year.

By then Vlautin had written a couple of other novels (The High Country had a tie-in album of the same name) and had formed a new band, the Delines (who play the Southern Fork festival shortly, see poster below).

Again the songs chart an interesting course through and narratives, and they are fronted by Vlautin and especially Austin-based Amy Boone.

Richmond Fontaine are still a going concern. says Vlautin.

We were going to flick him our songwriter or general questionnaire, but given he's a writer we chose the Famous Elsewhere Writers Questionnaire to exercise him

The first book which really affected you was . . .

I was twelve and it was the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Your first (possibly embarrassing) unpublished literary effort was . . .

It wasn't my first unpublished novel but I wrote a Harlequin romance novel! And sadly I wrote it for myself. 

Do you have any rituals or habits when you are in the throes of writing?

I try not to booze

If writing was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

If I had the money I'd own an old school movie theater!

Three books (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to read are . . .

Fat City by Leonard Gardner, Ironweed by William Kennedy, and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

thompsonAny interesting, valuable or just plain strange literary memorabilia at home?

I collect Jim Thompson and Steinbeck paperbacks. Not very impressive but I love paperbacks

Hardback, paperback or e-book on a long distance flight?


If you could ask a long-gone writer just one question, who would that be? And what would you  ask?

I'd ask Jim Thompson what the hell he was thinking with the baby foot in Savage Night.

The three films you think were good adaptations of literary works were . . .

No Country for Old Men,  How Green was my Valley, The Hustler

The last book you bought was . . . (And why that one?)

Robert Laxalt, Sweet Promised Land

I bought it as a present.

Can you, or do you, listen to music when you are at work? If so, who do you listen to?

I can't listen to music while I write. When I listen to music I can't help but daydream and daydreaming is a big problem for me already.

The book cover you would wear printed on a t-shirt would be?

Wise Blood, Flannery O'Conner

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

This morning it'll be of my horse, Jasper

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

I'd just ride it out at home with my girlfriend, but I would get a permanent keg of Guinness set up in my fridge.

And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why your last book is your best work ever?”

I worried and worried about my novel, The Free like you would a sick kid. I worked so damn hard on that book I about lost my mind.


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