Sunday, April 01, 2007

Christa Faust - She Ain't No Gidget

I've said it before and I'll say it again... Christa Faust is an original. A delightful, funny, outrageous, hugely talented original. Here is my long promised interview with Christa.

1. Let’s start off with a question I’ve been dying to ask ever since I first met you. Is Faust your real last name or a pen name? Given your love of everything dark and noirish “Faust” seemed too good to be your true name. It would be like me calling myself “Sue Ann Carbohydrate.”

Wanna see my driver’s license? I only use a pseudonym for some of my fetish videos, but honestly, it’s not like I’m fooling anyone with all these tattoos. I’m pretty recognizable.

I must say I do like the idea of naming myself after something I really like. How about Christa Chubby Girls Trying On Tight Vintage Girdles? That has a nice sort of “Dances with Wolves” ring to it

2. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Hoodtown. How did you come up with the idea of basing a novel on the Mexican wrestling world of Lucha Libre? What came first, your interest in Lucha Libre or the idea for the novel?

I’ve been obsessed with Lucha Libre in general and wrestling masks in particular since the first time I saw Las Momias de Guanajuato with Mil Mascaras in his pimpin’ black leather suit and matching black and silver hood. I got sucked into the actual sport during that amazing early to mid nineties Lucha boom when Peña’s AAA was really on fire and high flying cruiserweight Rey Misterio Jr first came on the scene. The idea for Hoodtown came out of my obsession with both the sport and the hoods. It originally started off as a comic, since it had such a strong visual component. I had a complete script written up and everything, but then I decided I wanted to do something a little more complex. I was reading a ton of vintage hardboiled novels and figured that kind of short, punchy pulp format would be perfect for Hoodtown.

3. Hoodtown is an allegorical novel. What was your reason behind creating a dark fantasy world for your story instead of setting it in the real world of Luche Libre?

I don’t really know. It just kind of came out the way it came out. There didn’t seem to be much choice at the time. I do think a lot about plot, and the anatomy of the actual mystery, but the rest just kind of happens. I’d probably make a lousy teacher because I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing most of the time. I’m still amazed that people are willing to give me money for this.

4. X was a fascinating protagonist. Was she based or drawn from anyone you know personally?

I suppose there is a lot of me in X, but she is also very much her own woman. At the risk of sounding ready for the rubber room, my characters all seem very real to me. Especially the ones that I write about in the first person. They are who they are and I just follow them around with a pen.

I will say this. I’m always glad to see strong female characters in books or movies, but I also hate this new trend for creating unrealistic sex-fantasy superheroines who weigh 98 pounds but can still fight ten 200 pound guys at once. In high heels, no less. I have trained in wrestling, boxing and jujitsu and I consider myself to be pretty strong for my size, but I weigh 114 at my heaviest. I know for a hard fact that I would not stand a chance in a fair fight against a single 200 pound man. Period. When I created X, I wanted to create a realistic and genuinely tough woman, a strong woman who you believe might actually stand a chance in a fair fight against a man. She’s no Milla Jovovich, I’ll tell you that!

5. Your next novel, Money Shot, is being published by Hard Case Crime for an early 2008 release. How does it feel to be the first woman to be published by Hard Case? Have they contracted with you for any other books?

It feels amazing. To be honest, I was pretty shocked when I was contacted by Hard Case editor Charles Ardai and asked for a submission. I‘ve been in awe of Hard Case since the first time I laid eyes on the cover for Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid. I’m hardly what you would call modest, but I still can’t quite wrap my brain around the idea of being on the shelf right alongside big guns like Richard S. Prather, Lawrence Bloch, Day Keene and Donald Westlake/Richard Stark. It’s a hell of an honor to be published by Hard Case at all, and being the first dame to crack that market makes it even better.

As for a contract, no. I guess maybe I have commitment issues. But if Ardai wanted something else from me, I’d be hard pressed to turn him down.

6. Please tell us a bit about Money Shot and your inspiration behind it.

Money Shot is a straight up two-fisted pulp revenge story about a former porn star, a briefcase full of cash, and the international sex slave racket. It’s modern, not period, set primarily in the smut-production capitol of the world, the San Fernando Valley.

I’ve worked in the adult film industry for years doing fetish oriented videos both in front of and behind the camera. I also have many friends who do the more standard “vanilla” gigs as well as the pervy stuff. It’s a really fascinating industry, full of sleaze and drama and wonderfully noirish potential, but so many of the novels and films that deal with the world of XXX paint the industry in a totally negative light. Like it’s this terrible insatiable machine that sucks in innocent virgins from the Heartland of America and spits out used up meth hags with prolapsed rectums, surgical addictions and Hep C. There is that dark side to it, of course, but there is also so much more. I wanted to write something from an insider’s perspective. Someone who sees both the bad and the good, someone who knows how to work the angles and make the machine work for her. A strong, unapologetic woman who goes after what she wants but is also flawed and very human.

7. Tell us about Choke Hold. When do you expect to have that novel completed? Has it been purchased yet by a publisher?

I really wanted to be done with Choke Hold by now, but paying gigs have been getting in the way of the deadline. Those darn bills, always interfering with my genius.

To be honest, Choke Hold isn’t really strong enough to live outside the womb just yet, so I’d rather not talk too much about it. I will say that it takes place in the world of MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, a type of combat sport made popular here in America by the UFC. Of course, who knows what the book will be by the time I’m through with it. Or should I say, by the time it’s through with me.

No, it doesn’t have a publisher yet. I guess we’ll see…

8. You have done quite a few film novelizations and film tie-ins, including one for Snakes on a Plane. How did you get started in that field? Do you have any recommendations for writers wanting to break into it?

So many of the breaks I’ve gotten in my writing career have been happy accidents that can’t really be replicated by following advice. I started doing tie-ins because Black Flame editor Jay Slater asked me to. I think he had approached some other, far better writers and they turned him down, but sent him my way. “Hey, try that Christa Faust, she’ll do anything for a dollar!”

9. I was fascinated to read on your blog that you recently had a walk-on part in a gay porn version of Superman. How did you get that role and have you done others like it?

As I said, I know a lot of people in the adult and fetish video industry. I’ve done a ton of fetish related videos but that was my first and so far only foray into Boytown. (Needless to say, there isn’t a large demand for females in gay porn) One of the people I’ve worked with in the past knew I had a large vintage clothing collection and a sense of adventure and thought I’d make a great Lois Lane. Since it’s a gay title, I didn’t have any kind of sex or even get naked. My job was just to be shocked to find “Superguy” engaged in gay sex and then deliver a few campy lines.

10. Please tell us which writers, both current and deceased, inspire you or you admire and why.

I have a real fondness for Richard S. Prather’s Shell Scott series. Those books are comfort reading to me. I’ve been on a Day Keene kick lately, currently rereading My Flesh is Sweet. I also love Charles Willeford. Stark’s Parker novels. Modern, I’d say Ray Banks. Allan Guthrie. Michael Marshall (Smith.) Gee that’s a lot of UK influence, huh? How about Megan Abbott. She’s so good it hurts.

11. Give us an idea of a typical Christa Faust day.

Get up. Coffee. Write. Walk dogs. Work out. Write. Read. Get laid if I’m lucky. Sleep. Repeat.

12. What book do you wish you had written?

This is a funny question, because I never really think that way. When a book knocks my socks off, I never think “I wish I had written that.” I might think, “I wish I was that good.” After all, if I had written that book, it probably wouldn’t be as good.

13. Finally, tell us what’s in store for Christa Faust in the next few years in the way of projects.

Well, the big adventure on the horizon will be my first real book tour, for Money Shot. My first Bouchercon. I’m kind of a mid term transfer student here in mystery/crime fic so it’s like I’m starting over in a lot of ways. This year and next are going to be extremely interesting.

I wish I had some clever 20 year plan like a Japanese corporation, but I must admit I have absolutely no idea what’s in store for Christa Faust in the next few years. All I know is I’ll still be writing. If all goes well, then you guys’ll still be reading me.

Well this reader plans on reading you for a long time.

Christa Faust will be one of the writers presenting a workshop at the Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles No Crime Unpublished Conference on June 10, 2007.

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