Episode 25: John Gaspard

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"I find it puzzling, don't you? The rabbit, I mean. Very puzzling." As a magician, I am accustomed to people asking me about rabbits... As a writer, John Gaspard is accustomed to people asking him about magic. His wonderful Eli Marks Mystery Series features magician and reluctant amateur sleuth, Eli Marks, and his cranky Uncle Harry, also a magician and a debunker of magic scams. Soft-boiled, humorous, and taking place in the -- dare I say? -- enchanting world of professional magicians, this series is a treat. Let's do the important stuff first. Poof! -- John has pulled a free short story for you out of his hat! You can download it here, or listen to the incomparable Jim Cunningham read it here. John also makes movies! Check out his film blog, Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts, which riffs off the name of one of his own books on movie making, Fast, Cheap and Under Control. In the interview, he recommends a book by William Bayer, Breaking Through, Selling Out, Dropping Dead and other notes on Film Making. You can keep abreast of Johns' many activities on Facebook. John gives a shout-out to fellow Minnesota writer Judith Guest (of Ordinary People fame, but also the writer of suspense novel, The Tarnished Eye) as well as mystery writer Lawrence Block, a long-time favorite of mine as well. He also talks about the great work The Amazing Randi has done in debunking frauds. Other magicians mentioned in this conversation: Dai Vernon, Lance Burton and Eugene Burger, and of course Harry Houdini. And I want to give a shout-out myself to Henery Press, which is doing a great job of publishing soft-boiled and cozy series, especially ones that are a little outside the lines, at a time when other publishers are ending many long-time series. They also publish Gigi Pandian's Jaya Jones series, another favorite of mine. If you missed my conversation with her, you can check it out here. This was such a fun conversation. Enjoy! -- Laura Transcript of Interview with John Gaspard Laura Brennan: My guest today may not be a professional magician, but he certainly creates magic on the page. John Gaspard’s novels are clever, funny and satisfying mysteries, with a flourish of stage magic. John, thank you for joining me. John Gaspard: Happy to be here. LB: Before we start talking about your novels, I'd like to talk a little bit about you. You also have a career in film and television, is that right? JG: Well, career might be a strong word. I have sold things to television and I have produced a number of low-budget feature films on my own. I started out as a teenager making films and I was directing them, so I was just always the director. LB: Well, I love that. I love that you take what you have and instead of letting it languish in a drawer somewhere, you actually went out and made it. And you started doing this when you were a teenager? JG: I did! I am one of the first people in the country or maybe even the world to make a feature-length Super 8 single sound system film. Which meant that the sound was right there on the film when you recorded it, as opposed to double system, where it is recorded separately. I did a couple of 16mm films in the '90s, they were all features, and then three digital features since around 2001. LB: So you have always wanted to write? JG: I always wanted to make movies, and since no one was handing me scripts I sort of fell into the writing part. LB: I like that because when you're writing a novel, you are both a writer and the director. JG: Yes. Yes, there's a lot more control going on in writing a novel. LB: So let's move into novels. How did you get started then, moving away from writing and directing features and into novels? JG: Well, I'd always figured that as I got a little bit older, I'd be doing less schlepping of film equipment and low-budget filmmaking. And I had read a book in my teens by William Bayer called, Breaking Through, Selling Out,

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