T.C. Boyle is a whirling dervish of an interview. At points hilarious, self-deprecating and slightly smug, he is the embodiment of his prolific, fascinating writing career that includes fictionalizing the loves of Frank Lloyd Wright in the best-selling “The Women” to Dr. Alfred Kinsey in “The Inner Circle” to a hippie commune in “Drop City.” And now he focuses that famed Boyle energy into his latest, “When the Killing’s Done,” a wide-reaching novel about two rival environmental groups fighting over how to best preserve the wild Northern Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara.
In writing about such a distressing topic as the state of the Earth and the irreversible harm we’re causing the environment, how do you stay upbeat?
Well, I am terribly depressed. But art is a way to not be depressed. I have a kind of negative view of where our species is headed but I can make art to distract myself. The hardest thing to do is to present two sides and allow the reader to enter those without being lectured at and creating a story to explore for fun.
You are so well-versed in the biodiversity of the Northern Channel Islands. How much research did you have to do?
Anything to do with animals and the environment is fascinating to me. Reading about it is my hobby, not research. It’s the way women read fashion magazines or men read about sports. I read about animals.
Your novels are all on such divergent topics. What makes you not only write about something but also do the vast research required??
I think an artist should challenge themselves and grow; I’ve never been limited in any way. I am just interested in many, many things and see them as grist for writing. It’s just the way my life works. In life, there is always a story. My work just reflects that.