Walter Mosley lacks nothing except his two front teeth. His mind is wildly productive and wickedly inventive.
He considers the wide breadth of his work to be a seamless
fit, to the amazement of readers and reviewers of his Easy Rawlins crime
novels, science fiction, novels in the tradition of French thinkers, short stories about urban philosopher Socrates
Fortlow, and the polemic "What Next: A Memoir Toward World Peace."
writes every day but for occasional times taken over by a funeral, or bringing his mother to the airport, or, yes, those book
tours. He goes to his office in Greenwich Village daily, has meetings, and does his ‘book business,’ aided by
his secretary, Corine.
It’s also the headquarters for his production company, and in
truth he seems more of a film type than a jobbing author. The place has comfy sofas, multi-line phones, remotes for digital
screens, a water cooler, stepping machine, and several open encyclopedias and dictionaries.
He keeps his huge comic book collection in a room behind the office
and shows it off to visitors, adding anecdoteal pizazz. He considers his fun and his business one in the same, and does
what he pleases.
Mosley's mien is nonchalant self-confidence that comes off as flamboyance
when he laughs, and when he elegantly strolls the streets of Manhattan in his white straw hat- often to New York University,
where he teaches English.
He says the very act of living is compulsive and doesn’t think
his self-insistent, bedeviled demands are unusual. Taken over by the drive to write, he describes it as "gathering smoke,"
or ‘guerilla warfare’ with ‘no vacation, no leave, no relief."
The writing he does at home, in a nearby apartment. And he writes buck
naked. At least, says he, "usually I don’t wear anything." For him this is the most natural thing in the world and he’s
surprised when others are surprised.
He doesn’t see why people think writing in the buff is weird.
After all, no one can see into his home from outside, and he feels better– and probably thinks better- in the nude.
Mosley was born 54 years ago in the Watts area of Los Angeles and experienced
the famous riots when he was 12. He wasn't published until the early 1990's. One of his earliest novels, "Devil in a Blue
Dress," went to the big screen, with Denzel Washington in the main role.
He shrugs off criticism that he’s living in a tony neighborhood,
and responds, "Even if I’m not living in a ghetto, my heart and my mind and my work are there, so I’m not removed
from it." With Mosley, he’ll have it his way– and that’s the way his readers like it.
The Man in My Basement created a stir. "Others may consider it a departure,
but it’s not a departure for me," says Mosley.
It’s a story he had to get out, and no one else could have
thought it up. In his straight-forward, deceptively simple, way, he creates a bottomless moral inquiry that packs a wallop.
In a nutshell– he tells the story of Charles Blakey, a young black man who can’t find a job, drinks too much, and
stands to lose the beautiful home that has belonged to his family for generations.
But his fortunes take an odd turn when a stranger offers
$50K to rent out the basement for the summer. When he empties out the
place he discovers, according to an antique dealer, that most of the things are of museum quality in the black history art
While he deals with that, he constructs a secret
prison cell as per his renter’s specifications, becomes a prison guard,
and is unsettled by his unimaginably bizarre situation. It’s not your ordinary story of power, evil, and redemption.
He wrote "47"
for young adults. It's about a slave boy named "47" on a 19th century
plantation in Georgia.
Among Mosley's latest are"The Tempest Tale," and a book about the great bluesman Robert Johnson:
Music in the Language. Yes, he covers a lot of ground. Follow the links below to get acquainted.
More good stuff about Walter Mosley:
go to Walter Mosley's books
go to excerpts of Mosley's books
go to hear Music in the Language: Mosely reading from his book on the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson