Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013
By Dege Legg
Lots of people claim they’re going to write a book. A whole lot less actually do it. Finishing seems to be half of the battle. Hey, if you’re going to go up the river, may as well go all the way. Taking on the task of writing the great American novel — fiction, nonfiction, romance novel, whatever — can be a masochistic endeavor that often includes much self-flagellation, cigarettes, alcohol, coffee and sitting in one place for months at a time. Not a healthy pursuit, but definitely an ambitious one. With book publishing deals becoming a less frequent and sometimes mythical thing, a number of Acadiana writers are self-publishing their own works. Lafayette’s Miguel Lasala is one of those writers. His new book, The Rodeo of Doom, is available at Amazon.com.
Miguel Lasala in five words more or less.
Half Cajun, half Salvadorian daydreamer.
You recently wrote and self-published a book titled The Rodeo of Doom. Tell me about it.
The Rodeo of Doom is a wild romp through the year of our lord 2384, where Henry Fields is a down on his luck adjunct professor in the Architecture Department at Andreas Tangen University in Los Angeles; but he has one thing going for him that others don’t. He has enough of the coveted EP14 to live to be 200 if he wants to, not that hard. When he saves a woman from certain death with a few drops of the EP14, a corrupt government agency tries to blackmail him into selling off his supply. Just when it seems like it might be a good idea, all hell breaks loose.
What’s the hardest thing about writing your own book?
Wanting to write is easy. Getting it done is another story. Most important and probably the hardest part of the process is to not over think it and to learn to just trust the story. You can be more critical later, but during the incubation period, you have to find a way to fall into the trance.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
I felt very good about this little book, and early on I knew I wouldn’t bother with trying to find a publisher. I wanted to put it out myself and have full control. I envision Whiskey Bay Press eventually publishing work from other writers also. My feeling is that if you hire good editors, take art and graphics seriously, then the product should be able to compete with anything else out there as long as the writing is good. The downfall to independent publishing of course is getting exposure.
Suggest one cool obscure book that no one has ever heard of that is worth reading.
You Can’t Win by Jack Black, but if you haven’t read Knut Hamsun, John Fante or Louis-Ferdinand Celine, then you’re missing out.
Why write a book in 2013? Why not just create some kind of cartoon video game or make your own reality show?
I’m all for experimenting with different media, but there is something about a book that’s hard to replace. Our entire understanding of the world is unveiled through stories. It has the potential to get our imaginations going in a very active way. Television for the most part seems to put us in a passive state, and I don’t think that this is an accident.
Having worked as a writer myself and well aware of the pay scale, I must ask, what’s your day job?
Since finishing graduate school in 2006, I’ve pretty much been teaching architectural design and drawing on the university level. On occasion, I find myself getting into freelance journalism.
Worst job ever?
I’ve washed dishes, painted houses and hung sheet rock, but nothing is quite as bad as working in a corporate office.
Over the last 30 some odd years, Paul Weller of The Jam has rocked a mod haircut that I like to call “The Modfather.” If you had to give your own haircut a name, what would it be?
The Savage Henry
If you were to bust a completely different career path and shuffle the deck, what would you be interested in doing?
Raising horses. My grandfather raised racehorses and he used to take us out to the farm when we were kids.
You’ve got a pretty rad dad. Hector Lasala. In times of crisis, what is his stock, go-to line of sage advice that he’s repeated to you over the years?
“Go for it.”
At the Monterey Pop Festival, guitarist Mike Bloomfield once famously advocated everyone to “Dig yourselves…because it’s really groovy.” In the event of losing one’s grooviness or coolness — by age, cultural shift, whatever — what method should one use to regain it?
Charles Bukowski said it best: “Don’t try.”
In the event of a deep spiritual crisis, what does Miguel Lasala do?
I’ve been interested in ancient Chinese tonic herbs. Anyone being bombarded with bad news or stress may want to look into He Shou Wu or Reishi. Tulsi is another amazing tea from India.
You came up in the ’90s underground scene. Tell me a good story from ye olden days.
I was 16, video-taping a Jesus Lizard show at The Wall, someone slamming around and hit me square in the nose and broke it. Later, David Yow gave me back my cover money and a picture disc. He signed it: “I can’t spell Miguelelelelelelel.” It was like that Coca-Cola commercial when the football player threw the kid the jersey.
What’s the next book you’re writing?
I’m in the final stages of finishing the first book I started back in 1999 when I moved to NYC. I moved there with a 35mm AE-1 Canon camera, a white plastic portable typewriter, and a machete I had bought in El Salvador. I had no idea what I was doing, but I’m still convinced that going there at that time was exactly what I needed to do.
I’m also working on the second (The Rodeo of Doom) book. So we’ll see what happens there.
Name one thing nobody knows about Miguel Lasala.
I’ve learned most of my Spanish from Mexican soap operas.