Dancin’ with myself

December 8, 2005 at 4:12 am (Uncategorized)

Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme recently sat down with author Mark LaFlamme for a discussion about his new novel “The Pink Room.” The interview alternated between friendly and antagonistic as the journalist pressed the novelist for answers about his book. The following is the result of the exchange.

Q: It’s been said that you sleep until 1 p.m. each afternoon and then work the night beat at the paper. Tell me, where does this leave time for writing fiction?
A: That’s a very good question, Mark. I write just about all of my fiction between midnight and roughly four in the morning. When I’m working on a novel, I write at least 2,000 words a night, no matter what. I often write more, but I won’t leave the computer until I have at least 2,000 words of fresh copy. One time, I did a word count and found that I was eight words short of that goal. I had to go back and pound out eight new words just to maintain that discipline.
Q: What were the words?
A: “They found the severed limb the following day.” Actually, I just made that up. But I may use it in future work.
Q: Considering the themes you write about in works of fiction, do you ever scare yourself?
A: Why, yes. Yes, I do. When I write, I’m surrounded by various ghouls and goblins I keep in my room. When I’m creating a particularly spooky scene in a story, I fancy I’ve seen one or more of them moving in on me from the corner of my eye. I also have my back facing the door, which was just really bad planning. On occasion, I’ll wheel around in my chair, absolutely convinced that someone has crept in behind me. Sometimes, I need to go outside and shake it off.
Q: Not the bravest guy in the world, are you Mark?
A: Not when it comes to the world of the supernatural. At least I don’t wet the bed.
Q: I heard you’ve written hundreds of short stories since you were a kid. Where do you get your ideas.
A: I’m glad you asked that, Mark. I understand most writers hate that question. Stephen King has a stock answer in which he quips that all his ideas come from a warehouse in Cleveland or something. Me, I’ve been dying for someone to ask.
Q: So, will you answer the question?
A: Right. I absolutely cannot go to sleep each night unless a mental movie is playing in my head. I call it my cerebral cinema. I need to have a story line going and characters to act them out as I’m drifting off. Usually, it’s just a very simple scene to start with and the story develops as I go to sleep. I don’t remember a time when I approached sleep without that happening in my mind.
Q: Is that how the idea for the Pink Room was conceived?
A: It is. I was trying to fall asleep one night when I conjured the image of a man walking down a very dark road at night. Just a man strolling into nothing, content and at ease. In my cerebral cinema, a car rolled to a stop beside him and a man spoke from inside. He said: “We understand you’ve been inside the house. We’d like to talk to you about that.”
At the time, I was reading a lot of Discover magazines and books about quantum mechanics. The concept of string theory very naturally wormed its way into my mental storyline. A night or two later, I had most of the plot worked out. A night after that, I started writing “The Pink Room.”
Q: How long did it take you to complete the novel?
A: Around six weeks for the first draft. At 2,000 words or so a day, that brought me up to roughly 85,000 words, a fair sized novel. But that’s just plodding right through the story at a sprinters pace. After that, I had to go back and rewrite some really horrible sections, tweak a little, add elements of foreshadowing, etc. That takes longer and it’s not as much fun.
Q: Is “The Pink Room” your first novel?
A: No. My first novel is tentatively titled: “Worumbo.” It may eventually take on the title: “The Screaming Room.” It’s about government experiments with mind control at an abandoned Maine mill and a young newspaper reporter with blossoming psychic abilities. It was a blast to write. The story takes place in a city between Lewiston and Lisbon.
Q: You are aware that there is no city located there, are you not?
A: I am aware of that, Mark. But in my world, there is a rather large city called Myrtle right outside Lewiston. A lot of nasty things happen there.
Q: Will “The Pink Room” be your last novel.
A: Not a chance. I’m about to start a third. It will be about a man who nearly derails a presidential campaign by digging up his dead wife, or about a man who sees dead people every time he detoxes from alcohol.
Q: You’re a strange person, Mr. LaFlamme. Did you have any friends at all when you were growing up?
A: I had lots of friends and many girlfriends, Mark. I was a normal kid in every way. Except I thought a lot about dead things at night. But hell, we all did that, right?
Q: Is “The Pink Room” just a long winded version of the Street Talk column?
A: No. I love writing the column but there are definite limits to what I can involve there. The same narrative voice might be present in the novel, but otherwise it’s entirely different. The gloves are off when I create fiction. Things are described as I imagine them. There is no point where I have to rein myself in and say: “Okay. That’s not appropriate for the readership.” The landscape of the story is filled with violence and cruelty. Some of it is graphic. There might even be a nasty word or two in “The Pink Room.”
Q: That’s about all the questions I have for you. If I could just ask one more?
A: Shoot.
Q: Who’s that coming in through the door behind you?
A: What… I can’t… Who… I don’t like you very much, Mark.




  1. Joseph N. Hall said,

    Why, thank you sir ….

  2. Anonymous said,


  3. fizzlefart said,

    A tie? Why a tie?

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