Jeff Pearlman might be my hero.
I first came across Mr. Pearlman’s work when I read his excellent book, “Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty”. (affiliate link)
From there, I stumbled upon his blog and immediately realized that he just might be the writer I strive to become, even as I enter the fourth decade of my life. I added his feed to my blog reader, and the rest is history.
His blunt writing style and willingness to open up to his readers makes him endearing, and I marvel at his ability to drive his point home every single time.
It’s not often someone as talented as he bares his soul, but I suppose that’s what I really admire about his writing.
So taken with his content, was I, that, on a whim, I reached out to see if he would participate in a quick session of the “Five and One.”
He graciously obliged.
Here is the conversation.
I hope you enjoy it.
(There’s even a kernel of PR advice hidden in here, so pay attention!)
Q: Why do you write?
Jeff: Because I can’t sing or dance. That’s an old Karate Kid line. Truthfully, I’m not sure. There are a lot of reasons. I love the process. I’m competent at it. It’s allowed me to see things others never have access to. It allows me to ask questions you’re not really supposed to ask, according to general societal rules. It’s a challenge that drives me to the brink of insanity, yet also gives me great joy. All of the above.
Q: From reading your blog, I know you once worked for The Tennessean as a reporter. Assuming you received a fair amount of pitches from public relations professionals, what was the best way to get your attention?
Not sure, but I’m always a fan of the most honest and blunt PR people. Best publicist I’ve ever dealt with, hands down, is Kelly Swanson, whose primary focus is boxing. Kelly is the type who will call you and say, “Look, I have to tell you about so-and-so fight, and both of us know it’s not so hot. But I need to call you for my job. And in a few weeks I’ve got this great matchup between so and so and so and so. She’s honest, and willing to tell me when something’s crap. hence, I believe her when she says something’s great. If you call and say, “We’re selling this amazing Aaron Rodgers cheese head hat,” well, your cred is shot. Be honest.
Q: I loved “Boys Will Be Boys.” How (or why) did you decide to write a book about the Dallas Cowboys dynasty?
This is the least-sexy story ever. I was trying to figure out who to write about. I have a close friend, an attorney named Paul Duer, and he said, “Lemme ask around at work.” He had a co-worker named Mike Murphy who said, “How about the ’90s Cowboys.” It immediately hit me as a perfect sports book—hugely popular team, that era had never been written about in-depth, book was waiting to be done, etc.
Q: I would imagine that writing books for a living is both a dream come true and a nightmare. How do you force yourself to keep writing when you don’t necessarily have to?
Well, I do have to. Because books are the way I primarily make my living these days. But it’s more than that—I looooovvve the book process. It’s like a 100,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and I’m trying to put it together. I’m motivated by that love, as well as by the looming deadline. It’s hanging there, and I know I have to get the book in or suffer hugely—my reputation, my career, finances.
Q: Which book do you wish you wrote?
Easy—Da Vinci Code. Because I’d be replying to you from my yacht.
Finally, the random question: I happen to think bands in the 90’s produced the best music of my lifetime – if you could only listen to one album from that decade for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
This is lame, but Big Bam Boom by Hall & Oates. Great hooks, some phenomenal songs.