Riffle Backstory: Q&A with "The Last Conquistador" author Michael Elias

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Michael Elias' "The Last Conquistador" is recently released from Open Road Media, and to celebrate we've got an exclusive interview with the author:

DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING ROUTINE:

MICHAEL ELIAS: I spend most of the day figuring out ways to avoid writing. I run out of errands, exercise, shopping, and home repairs around three o’clock and with no more excuses I get to work and stay in the chair until seven. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and after making sure there is nothing I want to see on TV I do some more work.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW THAT...

ME: Most of my favorite writers are women: Virginia Woolf, Hilary Mantel, Jane Gardam, Edith Sitwell, Helen Dunmore, and Marguerite Yourcenar. And I wrote "The Jerk" with Steve Martin.

WHAT IS THAT ONE BOOK THAT HAS BEEN ON YOUR "TO-READ" LIST FOR A LONG TIME BUT YOU STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN AROUND TO READING?

ME: "The Divine Comedy" and I started it last night.

WHO IS AN AUTHOR THAT INSPIRES YOU?

ME: Stephen Crane because he wrote about what he didn’t experience.

WHAT'S THE STRANGEST THING YOU'VE LEARNED WHILE RESEARCHING YOUR BOOK?

ME: Research itself is strange because of the Internet. Find the name of the top Peruvian heavy metal guitarist? Easy. What’s the day’s special on the menu at a specific restaurant in Lima? Isn’t that strange?

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE METHOD OF PROCRASTINATION?

ME: Writers used to sharpen pencils. I play one more chess game on my phone.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL HERO?

ME: Since I love historical fiction I would say Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell, John Williams’s Augustus, and Marguerite Yourcenar’s Hadrian.

BAD NEWS: YOU'RE ABOUT TO BE MAROONED ON A DESERT ISLAND--NAME THE FIVE BOOKS YOU WOULD BRING ALONG:

ME: "Life and Fate" by Vasily Grossman, and then the complete works (I’m cheating, right?) of Shakespeare, Dumas, Dickens, and Mark Twain.

WHAT BOOKS INSPIRED YOU/WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO YOUR READERS?

ME: Again, I love the Old Filth Trilogy by Jane Gardam, "Parade’s End" by Ford Madox Ford (it’s endless but amazing), and I just reread John Cheever’s short stories.

  • The Last Conquistador: A Novel

  • To the Lighthouse (Cathedral Classics)

  • Bring Up the Bodies (Wolf Hall, Book 2)

  • Last Friends (Old Filth Trilogy)

  • Collected Poems of Edith Sitwell

  • The Crossing of Ingo

  • The Abyss

  • The Jerk

  • The Divine Comedy

  • The Red Badge of Courage

  • Wolf Hall

  • Augustus: A Novel

  • Memoirs of Hadrian (FSG Classics)

  • Life and Fate (New York Review Books Classics)

  • The Complete Works of Shakespeare (7th Edition)

  • The Three Musketeers Omnibus, Volume One (Six Complete and Unabridged Books in Two Volumes): Volume One Includes - The Three Musketeers and Twenty Yea

  • Charles Dickens: Five Novels: Complete and Unabridged

  • Mark Twain: Four Complete Novels

  • Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy)

  • Parade's End (Vintage Classics)