Shortly after crime author James Crumley died last week, Washington Post obituary writer Patricia Sullivan hit her personal archive to find a clip of an interview she conducted with Crumley in 1985. She was a staffer at the Missoula, Mont., Missoulian at the time, and her piece gets at some of the novelist’s pugnacity:
“When I’m working, I can write anywhere,” he said. “In Guadalajara, I wrote a big portion of my first novel standing at the mantle in the living room while two marriages broke up around me and some guy wrote poetry at the top of his lungs.”
Things are a little quieter int he backyard shed where Crumley now pens mysteries, short stories and reviews. Rebuilt by graduate English students “with Ph.D’s in carpentry,” the room overlooks a dog pen and the backyard of his lower Rattlesnake neighbors. The room is cluttered with books, ashtrays, a stereo system and a half-dozen dictionaries, sitting squarely in front of the typewriter. It takes “a pot of coffee and 100,000 cigarettes” to get to work each day, he said.