VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?
STALLINGS: My first writer’s panel was at Bouchercon, a huge, crime/mystery readers and writers yearly event. It was titled “Street Writers and Grit,” whatever that meant. The time slot was Sunday morning, traditionally reserved for, well, newer writers. Most people would be too hungover from the award dinner and parties the night before to show up, so I wasn’t too worried about showing my ass to a large crowd. Mistake one of many. Sitting on a raised platform with four other writers and the moderator, my guts did the old flip flop. The room was filling. Shit, writers I liked and respected started to fill the large hall. Sweat broke. Pull it together. Be here now. Fuck, that is Chris Holm looking up at me. Fuck. What is that buzzing drone? The moderator? Did he say my name? Fuck, was that a question? “… Stallings you write from the street, do you research…” I had just enough context to figure out the question. “Research, um, yeah, by that um, see I lived life and wrote about it.” I dropped back into my body and found I could form sentences. We were discussing craft and process, something I normally do when hanging with other artists. Easy-peasy. The audience isn’t hurling metaphoric spoiled vegetables at me. I may just pull this off. This may not be the day they discover I’m a total fraud. And then, the moderator asks the question. The wheels come off. “What animal would you describe yourself as, sexually I mean?” Fuck, what? Brain freeze. Down the line authors answer. “Tiger.” “Pit-bull.” “Lion.” And I’m next… Empty headed. “Unicorn,” I answer “yeah, unicorn, ‘cause the chicks dig a good unicorn.” The room laughs, not erupts into, but not just polite laughter either. I survived that morning, and I know it can’t get weirder, until the next time. “So, if you could engage in consensual bondage with any dead writer, who would it be?”
Josh Stallings is the massively dyslexic award-winning writer of the Moses McGuire novels, Anthony Award nominated memoir “All The Wild Children,” and 2016 Left Coast Crime’s Lefty Award nominated, “Young Americans.” A ‘70’s glam-rock disco heist novel. Raised by hippy activists in the mountain above Palo Alto, he now happily resides in Los Angeles with his wife, two dogs and cat named Riddle.
Come see Josh read at Book Show in Los Angeles on Friday, February 19 at 7:30pm.