An Interview with Chris Tusa, author of ‘Dirty Little Angels’

The BookDepository



Chris Tusa is the author of Dirty Little Angels, which is set in the slums of New Orleans, and follows 16-year-old Hailey as she deals with problems within her family, and the dark world of drugs and violence that surround her. You can read my review here. 

After reading his debut novel, Chris kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

 Congratulations on getting your first novel published! What is the best thing about having your book in print?
It’s very exciting to know that people all over the world are reading a book I’ve written. Specifically, it’s rewarding to know that people (assuming the book impacts them) are being drawn into a world (and toward characters) that I created.
When you started writing the book did you have the whole plot in your mind, or did it develop as you went along?
I had a general plot in mind, but the interesting thing about writing is that the characters (once developed) often have their own ideas of where the story should go.

Did you do any special research before writing the book?
Occasionally, I did have to locate bits of information I wasn’t familiar with-the location of a street, a song title, etc. In general, though, there wasn’t much research.

What thoughts would you like readers to have on finishing Dirty Little Angels?
I want readers to be impacted on an emotional level, and I want them, as a result of reading the book, to contemplate their own lives. This is primarily why I choose to write about such desperate and downtrodden people. In my opinion, readers learn more about themselves when they read about desperate people. Desperation and tragedy truly transform us, primarily by forcing us to contemplate our own lives. It may sound strange, but I don’t have any desire to write safe, happy little books filled with characters that readers grow to admire. Of course, I want readers to experience a gamut of emotions while reading, but I’m happiest when a reader tells me they hate one of my characters. When they hate a character (like Moses) I know I’ve impacted them on an emotional level, mostly because when readers begin to hate a character, they begin to truly learn about themselves.

Your first book, Haunted Bones, is a collection of poetry. Do you prefer writing novels or poetry?
I like writing poetry, but it is not nearly as rewarding as writing fiction. I can sit and down and spend a day writing, and when I’m done (on a good day), I’ll have a poem I’m happy with. Novels take years to write, and there are so may things that can go wrong. It’s very daunting, which makes it more rewarding when you’re done. Poems are sprints. Novels are marathons. And to be honest, now that I’ve run the marathon, I want to run as many as a I can.

How did you get published? Did you have an agent?
Initially, my agent sent the ms out to a number of large NY publishers. Two of them liked the ms and asked for revisions, but neither was happy with the changes. A friend of mine recommended the University of West Alabama, and I decided to send it to them. They liked it, and the rest is history.

Who are your favourite authors?
My favorite writers are Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Harry Crews, Daniel Woodrell, Flannery O’Connnor, Tennessee Williams, and George Orwell.

Are you planning to write more books in the future?
Definitely. Currently, I’m working on a novel involving a very dysfunctional family. Essentially, it’s a dark tragicomedy/satire that focuses on a man named Walter Piggert who, after having visions of the Virgin Mary, becomes convinced he’s the Second Coming of Christ.

Thank you Chris, for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck with your next novel!

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  1. Louise says:

    I want to read that book! Interesting interview and very interesting setting of a novel which I am eager to learn more about. Am currently reading another book set in New Orleans (and visited myself some years ago) and am very fascinated with this City, the Southern “style”, Southern Lit etc and can’t wait to read this one. I am going to check if it is available in Danish libraries yet. If not, I’ll just have to get it from Amazon I guess ;) I am going to be very busy later this year with all the must-reads I am currently putting on hold because of a very busy real-life now, but if I can get this, I am going to read it immediately. Thanks for a great interview with an exciting new author (and a great review).

  2. Sandy says:

    He kinda looks like John Cusak! I loved the interview…it always gives such insight that intrigues me to pick up the book (which I’m sure is the point for him!). Great questions, too, Jackie!

  3. Beth F says:

    I’ve had this book on my radar for a while. Thanks so much for the interview — I really enjoy reading them and they bring something extra to the reading experience.

  4. Sandy says:

    Jackie, I’ve just given you an award! Hop on over…

  5. Margot says:

    Great interview with great questions. I especially liked when you asked him what he wanted his readers to think when they were done. His answer shows me he had a goal for the readers when he wrote. I think sometimes writers only have goals for themselves. I liked his honest answers. Thanks for the insights this interview gave. It definitely makes the book more desirable for me.

  6. Simon S says:

    I love interviews with authors its so interesting to read what goes on in all their heads and where everything comes from. How have you coped with no reading?

  7. Jackie says:

    Margot – I agree -it is great to get a bit of insight into what the author was thinking when they wrote the book. It makes everything more interesting.

    Simon – I had a great weekend – I did read a newspaper in the hotel – does that count as reading?!

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