Patrick Shawn Bagley, the novelist in our Poet-Novelist judging duo for cahoodaloodaling‘s 2015 In Cahoots contest, shares with us a little about his recent book, collaborating, and his co-judge, Ruth Foley.
Raquel Thorne: Your book, Bitter Water Blues, came out earlier this year, one review calling it a “redneck noir”. Can you describe your take on the classic hitman mob noir?
Patrick Shawn Bagley: There are more hitman stories out there than any sane person could ever want to read. For me, the main consideration was figuring what I could do to make my guy stand out in such a huge crowd. Joey grew tired of the life and did his best to get out of it, going back to the mob only when he had no other choice. Another difference is my choice of setting. Most of the novel takes place in rural Maine, not exactly a hotbed of gangland activity. I think that setting shapes the characters and directly affects the plot. Noir doesn’t have to mean “big city.” Life in the country is just as brutal, with men and women who doom themselves day by day.
Raquel Thorne: What does collaboration mean to you as a writer?
Patrick Shawn Bagley: That’s a tough question, as I haven’t done any collaborative work in about 20 years. Communication and shared vision are key. You have to trust your creative partner, and trust your own instincts so you can let yourself play off whatever that person brings to the project.
Raquel Thorne: While she’s not looking, can you tell us something cool about Ruth Foley that she’d be too shy to share herself?
Patrick Shawn Bagley: In grad school, Ruth got her gang of poet-thugs lit up on absinthe and black Lebanese hash, and led them in an all-out assault against the creative nonfiction writers. They wiped out the entire CNF program in less than 45 minutes. The university covered it up, of course, and paid off the families of the dead and maimed.
Also, Ruth sees the poetry in everything. That’s a rare gift. Rarer still, she has the ability to out those ideas down on paper and make her readers feel them. Ruth’s a true poet, and—despite the number of writers who claim that title for themselves—there aren’t many of those around anymore.
Read our interview with Ruth Foley
and stay tuned for our 2015 In Cahoots Contest results, out later this winter.
Patrick Shawn Bagley‘s debut crime novel Bitter Water Blues was published in January 2015 by Snubnose Press. His stories of hardscrabble life and rural mayhem have appeared in Crimespree Magazine, Thrilling Detective, Spinetingler, The Iconoclast, and the anthology Uncage Me. He was one of the founding editors of The Lineup: Poems on Crime, an annual anthology. Bagley lives and writes on a dead-end dirt road in a one-stoplight town. During the day, he works at a nonprofit community support program for adults with intellectual disabilities.