Joe R. Lansdale Guest Blog: How the Drive-In Series Changed My Life

Joe Lansdale's The Complete Drive-InIt’s Day Two of the lead-up to our contest involving Joe R. Lansdale’s The Complete Drive-In, and today Joe’s guest blog revolves around how the series changed his life for the better.

The question posed to Joe is: Where were you career-wise when you wrote the first Drive-In book in 1988? What was your life like back then?

I was just beginning to really make it as a writer. I had been full-time for about seven years, but the first four were really tough, and I was making the equivalent of a part-time job. My wife was working so we did all right, but it was very touch and go. Writing is often that way, but even more so back then. By 1981 I was full-time, by 1985 I was selling more often, and then by 1990 (a year or so after The Drive-In: A “B” Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas) came out, my career began to really take off. 1986 was the year I consider the most pivotal, but by the time of The Drive-In I was moving in a much more substantial direction. Still, we had two kids, and I was busy all the time.

I wrote The Drive-In in about three months, and the next day I started Cold in July, which took about two months. I didn’t really like writing The Drive-In because I couldn’t get any sense of what it was like, if it was working. But when the galleys came out and I proofed those, I felt good about it. I didn’t care if anyone else liked it, though I would prefer they did, because I knew I had written something unique, and it just happened.

Joe followed up The Drive-In with The Drive-In 2: Not Just One of Them Sequels in 1989 and The Drive-In: The Bus Tour in 2005. The Complete Drive-In compiles all three novels along with never-before seen art from the unmade Drive-In movie. A summary of The Complete Drive-In follows.

Friday night at the Orbit Drive-in: a circus of noise, sex, teenage hormones, B-movie blood, and popcorn. On a cool, crisp summer night, with the Texas stars shining down like rattlesnake eyes, movie-goers for the All-Night Horror Show are trapped in the drive-in by a demonic-looking comet. Then the fun begins. If the movie-goers try to leave, their bodies dissolve into goo. Cowboys are reduced to tears. Lovers quarrel. Bikini-clad women let their stomachs sag, having lost the ambition to hold them in. The world outside the six monstrous screens fades to black while the movie-goers spiral into base humanity, resorting to fighting, murdering, crucifying, and cannibalizing to survive. Part dark comedy, part horror show, Lansdale’s cult Drive-In books are as shocking and entertaining today as they were 20 years ago.

For more on the author, be sure to read Elaine Lamkin’s recent interview with Joe R. Lansdale, and check back tomorrow for more of Joe’s pearls of wisdom.

Debi Moore

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  • James Coker

    if any of you fellow horror bretheren have been to the drive-in, it’s fucking awesome, you can get away with so much there

    • FireRam

      I love the drive-in!!!!! Used to go in my younger days,usually in a convertible,case of beer in a cooler or box of wine chilled,party favors galore,smoke as you wish,and the atmosphere is just FUN! I saw Halloween H2O there,and non horror related,Twister.Now,alot of people didn’t like Twister but it was fun as hell at the drive-in. Especially when the big one hit the drive in in the movie haha!

      My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius,and I approved this message.