Walter Mosley is the author of more than 34 critically acclaimed books, including the major bestselling mystery series featuring the character Easy Rawlins. His work has been translated into 21 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and The Nation, among other publications. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He became a writer in his thirties, after a decade-long career as a computer programmer. He lives in New York City.
Question: Do you feel your prior career as a computer programmer shows in your writing?
Walter Mosley: I think that computer programming shows in my writing. Often when I write about computer programmers I’ll write about the way that they see the world and they structure the world.
Question: And how is that?
Walter Mosley: In little discrete boxes of logic, you know, that the world makes sense through these little discrete boxes of logic and they kind of break down their world. Like, in that same story where the guy is talking about, you know: "What’s a boy dog gonna do without his bitch?" There’s another character who works on the 26th floor of a building. And he says, “Well, I work on the 26th floor of a building and I get an hour for lunch, but it takes five minutes for the elevator to come to my floor and its 26 floors, so it could stop on all the floors on the way down and then I have to walk across a concrete aisle to where they sell the food, but then there’s 26 floors of people so there’s a long line for food. Sometimes it takes up to 32 minutes before I get my food. And so then I sit down and eat, so how am I gonna get back to work in an hour when I’m on the 26th floor and I have all of these obstacles to go through.”
But it’s the kind of logical way that a programmer would think and explain his or her world. I don’t always do that, but often I do.
Recorded November 10, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler