Talking to Quentin Tarantino, Debut Novelist
In Conversation with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast
On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Mitchell Kaplan talks to acclaimed filmmaker Quentin Taranton about his first work of fiction, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, out now from Harper Perennial.
On transforming his influences:
Mitchell Kaplan: Talk a little bit about just how you’ve gone down these rabbit holes of things that you’ve loved, of influences that you had and you transformed them into something new.
Quentin Tarantino: Well, I mean, it’s funny because you can definitely make the case I’m doing that with the movie novelization to some degree where in the movie world, I’ve taken these different genres and sub genres that oftentimes weren’t treated with that much respect from the first string critics of the big newspapers, whether it be Hong Kong Kung Fu movies or just all the different, weird little sub genres, a bunch of men on a mission movies, spaghetti westerns, that kind of stuff. But I always loved them and… Or blaxploitation movies. I always loved those and I wanted to do my versions of them, but I really wanted to do my versions of them where I took what I considered the pleasures of those genres, because I didn’t want to do an art film meditation on a blaxploitation movie.
On being a curator:
Mitchell Kaplan: I love the fact they use the word curator, because you know, like any great artist, what you do through your curation and through your references is that you’re teaching your audience as well.
Quentin Tarantino: No, that’s very true. And it’s very gratifying, because we had a book signing just the other day, and I probably signed about 300 copies of the book. And there was all these people from between 30 to 19, and they were coming up to me and they were just saying, “You helped turn me on to movies. It was seeing this movie you did, or that movie you did,” and that’s gratifying enough. But the idea that, well, after I saw your movie, then I was really interested in you, and then I listened to you give interviews and you talked about this director or that director, or this genre or that sub genre, this movie or that movie, so then I went out and made a list and went and started seeing those movies.
On falling in love in bookstores:
Quentin Tarantino: There was a time when like my first girlfriend, who was this really lovely, lovely woman, and she was going for her…You know, I was a high school dropout, and she was going for her professorship in English literature. And so we would go to that bookstore when she was going to Santa Cruz College. You know, there were all these great bookstores in town, and then we would just go and buy about six books or seven books and then come home, and then for the next three days, that’s what we did.
Mitchell Kaplan: That’s great. There’s a great book shop that you probably went through, it’s called Bookshop Santa Cruz, actually.
Quentin Tarantino: Oh yeah. Yeah, I’m sure that’s the one I’m referring to, yeah.
Mitchell Kaplan: Right downtown, yeah.
Quentin Tarantino: Yeah. They had a really magnificent bookstore, and they had a couple of really magnificent used record stores that we loved. And there was that great revival house, the Old Sash Mill, that we were seeing old movies at that was just fantastic.