Questions for James Ellroy

What I like about the era I am writing about, meaning 1958 to 1972, is that the anti-Communism mandate justified virtually any kind of clandestine activity. I like exploring the mind-set of extreme expediency.

What about more contemporary forms of expediency, like the anti-terrorism measures practiced by the Bush administration?
I do not follow contemporary politics. I live in a vacuum. I don’t read books. I don’t read newspapers. I do not own a TV set or a cellphone or a computer. I spend my evenings alone, usually lying in the dark talking to women who aren’t in the room with me.


You mean they’re on the phone?
No. They’re metaphysical. I brood. I brood about former women in my life. Potential future women in my life. I ignore the culture. I don’t want it to impede, impair, interdict, suppress or subsume my imagination with extraneous influences.

Is this an act? Are you trying to pass yourself off as the sort of isolated sociopath who is a stock character in crime fiction?
No. I am not acting. There are times when I think it isn’t quite kosher to be lying in the dark talking to women who aren’t in the room with me. And it turns into a certain kind of hauntedness and loneliness. But by and large, I dig it.

You’re oddly cheerful for a self-described hermit.
I am happy by and large. I work hard. And I love life. I am having a blast.

- Deborah Solomon, New York Times Magazine, November 5, 2006