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gus van sant   Self-Interview  
 
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  I have agreed to write a bit for this magazine about my new book Pink, and decided to create a mock interview. So I will be asking myself questions in this piece.

So when did you first decide to write a book?

Um, I'm not sure, I have always written things, little things here and there that didn't amount to a hell of a lot, for school mostly. I have written screenplays that have never been produced. I once even wrote a book as a conceptual exercise (not that this one isn't conceptual as well) where I filled one of those blank sketch books with a long fictional story called The Changing Man. In this last piece the lead character changed colors whenever he changed his location. And another novel before this which was a sort of practical instructional novel for film directors called How to Make a Good Movie. I am still working on this one but ran into a bind trying to make the piece actually a practical handbook that a director could carry around with him to help him make decisions about his movie while he is making it. But I am not certain that I am going to be able to accomplish this. So anyway, there was never a time like, when, I decided to write this book, Pink.

Who are your literary influences?

Well, William Burroughs has been one of my literary influences. I'm pretty sure that you would never be able to tell this. But at one time I was very much under his influence, sometime when I was in college in the early seventies. Burroughs was very popular then. I think he has always been very popular for the college-age reader. Partly because of his, um--his experimental take on literature, and his faith in the written word's ability to infect or take over the reader when he isn't aware of it.

Any other influences?

Well, let's see, there's um...the Beatles, I guess, and Beckett, for sure Beckett. I used to call them the three B's for Burroughs Beckett and the Beatles, but now there is a fourth B, I realized last week, but I've forgotten what the fourth B stands for, I'm thinking it must be some comedy team or something vaudvillian. But, oh--well, I guess that last B must not be too terribly important an influence, because it escapes me right now.

Okay, so will you be writing another story?

Yes. I am working on a couple of them. But I don't think that I want to be talking about them right now.

So what is the difference between making a movie and writing a novel?

Not real different when you are conceiving of them, but very different experiences for the people on the other end either viewing or reading them. You get to have a lot more descriptiveness and information with a book, basically. Although in certain movie formats you could get as involved as you wanted, so long as you had the time, like say in a soap opera which is almost limitless, and not really taken advantage of since the makers are trying to keep up with themselves just putting them on every single weekday of the year. The disciplines are obviously very different, making moving pictures and writing words are different crafts completely, but sometimes in the end you are coming to grips with the same thing--the story.
 
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Copyright © 1997 Gus Van Sant.

Photo of Gus Van Sant © copyright Scott Green