Friday, July 2, 2010

7 Questions: Bill Crider

Interview by David Cranmer

"Texas store sells American Flag with 61 stars," "Texas Rep. warns of baby-making terrorists coming to US," "Man attempts to hold up gas station with caulk gun" et cetera. Bill, what the heck is going on in the Lone Star State?

Bill Crider
Well, maybe there's something in the water. Or maybe life imitates Joe Lansdale's art. But not all the time. Usually Texas is just like anywhere else. Okay, maybe not like Florida. Florida has a lot more nutty happenings than Texas does. And, let's face it, the "flag" wasn't really a flag, according to the store manager. He said it was a "decorative object." It was made in Virginia, too, so I think the Virginians have to share in the blame. As for the caulk gun used in the attempted robbery, who among us hasn't made a silly mistake like that?

Do you miss teaching college English?

Yes, but that's a qualified yes. When I retired, I'd been an English Department chair for 25 years. A lot of that time I'd been a Division Chair of English and a few other departments, so by the end of my career, I was teaching only a couple of classes. The teaching was fun right to the end, and that's what I miss. What I don't miss: departmental meetings, committee meetings, writing reports on departmental meetings and committee meetings, creating the schedules and assigning faculty to the classes, ordering the textbooks, creating a departmental budget, and, well, you get the idea.

The students were always great, and I especially appreciated the ones who provided me with material in their essays, like the one on MEDEA, in which I ran across "hell hath no fury like a woman spermed," or the one on HAMLET, in which I was informed that "Hamlet always put his mother on a pedal stool."

Speaking of teaching, is it true your brother taught Anna Nicole Smith biology?

Yes, but let me clarify that just in case someone reading this is getting the wrong idea. My brother, Bob, is as straight-arrow as they come, and for many years he taught biology and chemistry classes in our hometown of Mexia, Texas. When Anna Nicole Smith was in his class, she wasn't even Anna Nicole Smith. She was Vickie Lynn Hogan in those days, a kid who worked at Jim's Crispy Fried Chicken on the weekends. Bob says that she wasn't anyone you'd notice if you walked into the room, just a mousy student who sat in the back of the room and didn't say much.

Is there any truth to the rumors that The Fabulous G-Strings will get back together?

Sadly, no. The Fab 4 (or occasionally 5 or 6) is no more. One of our stalwarts, Seepy Benton, has moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where students in the desert are benefiting from his vast knowledge of math and his deeply strange worldview. Rochelle Brunson is shaking her tambourine at Baylor University. Darryl, or maybe it was his other brother Darryl, hardly ever showed up, anyway, and after he was kicked upstairs to the job of assistant to the president, stopped appearing altogether. I've retired, and so has Bill Horine, whose clear tenor was the best voice in the bunch. Only Gilbert Benton remains at the college, and he's likely to retire at any minute. But video is available. Unfortunately.

What's your take on e-books, the state of traditional publishing, and would you consider releasing some of your earlier work in the Kindle format?

Some of my earlier work, from the days when I was famed horror writer Jack MacLane, is now available on Kindle. Buy early and often!

Murder in the Air comes out August 3 from St. Martins.
I think e-books are here to stay, and while they might not replace traditional books, they're going to make serious inroads. Some people are saying there won't be much of a change in the way things are done, but I don't believe it. When the printing press was invented, there were probably people saying, "Those new books are all right, but I'm sticking with my hand-copied manuscripts." We can all see how that worked out. The traditional publishers are going to have to figure out some new approaches.

One thing that worries people, it seems, is that with self-published e-books there are no "gatekeepers." No editors, agents, copyeditors, and such. And with thousands of books being published outside the traditional venues, how will anybody find the "good stuff?" I assume these problems will be addressed. There are already websites springing up that purport to tell you which of the self-published e-books are worth reading. We're in the first stages of a revolution. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

How did you meet your wife Judy and what's the secret to the success and longevity of your marriage?

One of my best friends was dating Judy's best friend. They decided that Judy and I needed to meet. So they set us up for a blind date. Apparently they were right about us, since things worked out pretty well.

If there's a secret to a long and successful marriage, I don't know it. I've heard a lot of people say that you have to work hard to make a marriage last, but I've never thought that. Maybe Judy has, but it's never seemed like work to me. We've always gotten along pretty well, and while we may have spoken a cross word or two (or more), we've never had a serious disagreement. Could be that we're just lucky. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to vacuum, feed the cats, and take out the trash.

Crider, Gorman, and Reasoner walk into a restaurant. Who picks up the check?

Crider does because of his big heart, his generosity, and his huge bank account. Reasoner would have picked it up, but he was too busy finishing up the novel he'd started writing on the way to the restaurant. Gorman would have picked it up, but he didn't really go to the restaurant. He never leaves the house.


  1. Ah, how things might have been different had little Vicky Lynn Hogan learned English from Bill rather than biology from from his brother. She might have grown into a schoolmarm instead of a golddigger, and we'd have been denied years of real-life TV drama.

  2. I should have guessed there was an English teacher behind all this. Thanks, Bill, for the western movie posters. And the caulk gun holdup. Who can forget that?

  3. Where is that G-Strings video? It sounds like a must have. I only hope the Moops will do one some day.

  4. As soon as I posted that I thought to look on Youtube, and sure enough there you were, singing your hearts out. Good stuff. I especially liked the fact that you don't lose your accent when you sing, Bill.

  5. Cap'n Bob, I will look for that video and add the link. Thanks.

  6. And how different thinbgs would have bee if Mamma Cass had shared her chicken sandwich with Karen Carpenter...cracking interview.

  7. Enjoyed that. I sympathize with Bill's years as a chairperson. I was chair of Psychology and/or social sciences for about 12 years. hated every moment of it.

  8. Let's start a campaign to get a remastered version of the G-string video out there.

  9. Fun interview. Saw the FGS vid. Not bad!