My secret life: James Ellroy, author, 62
Saturday 30 October 2010
My parents were ... good-looking LA arrivistes. They were ill-suited for parenthood, so I'm not surprised that I turned out to be both as troubled and gifted as I am.
The house/flat I grew up in ... My parents divorced when I was quite young. My mother was a fastidious housekeeper; my dad was a slob. After my mother's celebrated – if over-reported – 1958 murder, I went to live with my dad and we had a beagle who was un-housebroken. Our place reeked of dog shit.
When I was a child I wanted to ... be a novelist.
If I could change one thing about myself ... I would have hair.
You wouldn't know it but I am very good at ... public speaking. I have a lot of clergymen ancestors; the pulpit calls to me.
You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... I have no facility whatsoever for foreign languages of any kind.
At night I dream of ... My girlfriend Erika's dad is the famous film critic Richard Schickel, and I'm oddly fond of this man, who is florid, 50lbs overweight, 77 years old, and chain-smokes. I keep waiting to have the heart-to-heart talk with him, where I tell him how much I love his daughter. He understands this implicitly, but he has no emotional language for it. So in my dreams, I'm always about to tell him and he goes like this [puts up his hand].
What I see when I look in the mirror ... I'm occasionally shocked at how old I look, and then I get a different angle on it and I realise I look good.
I wish I'd never worn ... I grew up very poor, adjoining a rich area called Hancock Park in LA, and people wore elegant, traditional clothes and thus I have spent a fortune on elegant, traditional clothing. I have worn some of the most absurd patchwork plaid trousers ever.
My favourite item of clothing ... I have three very fine flannel, chalk-striped suits. I was meant to wear a chalk-stripe suit, because I'm tall and thin.
I drive ... a shamelessly gas-guzzling, brand-new Cadillac CTS-V. It is profoundly powerful, very very fast and good looking. It drives like a bat out of hell.
My house is ... I don't have a house; I have a divorce pad. It's 10 blocks from the neighbourhood that I grew up adjoining. It's where I go when women divorce me. The walls are red; the only books on the shelves are books I wrote myself, except for Erika's memoir, which is flush up against one of my many busts of Beethoven.
A book that changed me ... Libra, by Don DeLillo. It's the story of the assassination of John F Kennedy, largely told through the eyes of Lee Harvey Oswald, and it is in every way the genesis of my novel American Tabloid.
My greatest regret ... I may sound sociopathic, but I don't regret. I try not to repeat the mistakes that I often make. I fail at this, and I have a propensity for misconduct, but I learn in the end. I believe the old saying: you don't regret what you did, you regret what you didn't do. So I'm pathologically decisive.
The last time I cried ... I watched Erika read LA Confidential, finish it, and cry – and when she started crying, I cried.
My five-year plan ... to see Erika's daughters get through high-school so that we can get the hell out of LA. And write my next two and a half novels.
What's the point? Transcendence.
My life in five words ... A hell of a ride.
A life in brief
James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles on 4 March, 1948. He is the author of the crime classics, LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia, both of which were made into Hollywood films, as well as a memoir, My Dark Places, about his mother's unsolved murder in 1958. He has been married twice, currently lives in Los Angeles, and has recently published another memoir, The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
The man they forgot to lock up: Mike Anderson was sentenced to 13 years in jail, but the police never came
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
South Korea ferry disaster: Families watch as remains of Sewol victims returned to shore
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
An open letter to Nigel Farage: you may smile, but I am not seduced
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...
£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...