Poly-Creative: An Interview with Writer and Actor Michael Boatman

The multi-talented Michael Boatman, star of movies and television, has now turned his attention to writing fiction, with a first collection of "mean little stories from the wrong side of the tracks" called God Laughs When You Die, featuring an introduction from horror master David J. Schow. Boatman's fiction is taut, honest, and dark. Joe Lansdale said about the collection, "[he] writes like a visitor from hell. Someone out on short term leave for bad behavior. I love this stuff. He's one of the new, and more than promising writers making his mark." (For Boatman's fascinating recent essay "Lady Hollywood", click here.) I recently interviewed Boatman via email about his new direction.

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Amazon.com: First off, please describe where you are as you’re answering these questions.

Michael Boatman: I'm sitting in my office, which is downstairs in the basement of my house. The windows in my office look out over my backyard and a thick patch of woods. It's 9:00 AM on a foggy December morning.

Amazon.com: How long have you been writing?

Michael Boatman: I've been writing for about thirteen years. I started after I injured my leg in a freakish household accident. I was unable to work for about twelve weeks. One day, Don Cheadle, who is a good friend, stopped by for a visit. He took one look at me, fat, bearded and depressed, and encouraged me to explore writing, as I had always expressed an interest in creating a screenplay. The screenplay was terrible, but I loved the process and I've been writing ever since.

Amazon.com: Where do writing and acting intersect creatively? How do they influence each other in your life?

Michael Boatman: Acting and writing both stem from the most primal form of entertainment, which is storytelling. I've come to believe that I actually became an actor as a kind of creative misfire. I was always a voracious reader. To this day, I'm unable to go anywhere without a book. However, writing was something I'd never considered. It seemed too mystical, something working-class kids from the inner city weren't supposed to do.  I stumbled into acting in high-school, (of course to meet chicks) I discovered that I enjoyed being a part of a creative endeavor. After more than twenty years as an actor, I've realized that, at least for me, the two art forms are linked. An actor communicates his part of the larger story in which he participates, but a writer creates the story. Now I find telling my own stories more compelling than communicating other authors' stories.

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