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EXCL: A Chat with Repo Men’s Eric Garcia

Author of “Repossession Mambo”

Repo Men is generating considerable buzz amongst genre fans. What we have seen thus far displays substantial promise and it is somewhat of a happy accident that a debate over health care rages on just as it is about to hit theaters nationwide. Of course, no one is discussing the ethics of selling artificial organs for profit (and then collecting on debts with any means necessary) at the moment, but it is hardly far-fetched to imagine the possibility.

The movie is based on Eric Garcia’s novel “The Repossession Mambo.” Garcia, who co-wrote Repo Men with Garrett Lerner, has also written the novels “Anonymous Rex,” “Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys” and “Matchstick Men,” which is also an excellent Ridley Scott film.

Mr. Garcia took some time to answer a few questions about the genesis of the story, using genre tales as a metaphor, the Repo: Genetic Opera “controversy,” and more.

ShockTillYouDrop: Did you imagine the story as a movie or book first? Or even both?

Eric Garcia: The story, as I’ve been talking about quite often recently due to the Genetic Opera fans going somewhat, um, over-the-top with their enthusiasm for their own film, started long, long ago as a short story about a bio-repo man, and I turned it into a novel a couple years later. I’ve been a novelist for over 10 years now – my mind tends to think in literary terms before cinematic ones, though both clearly have their place. The movie didn’t come about ’til I showed the book to a friend of mine (my script co-writer Garrett Lerner) who suggested we turn it into a film together. That said, everything I write has somewhat cinematic properties, as my books are always, as they say in Hollywood, “high-concept” — essentially, genre. Sometimes sci-fi (the “Rex” series, “Repo”), sometimes crime (“Matchstick”), sometimes chick-lit (“Cassandra French’s Finishing School”), but always, in my mind at least, comedic.

Shock: Seeing how a book must be very personal, what is it like to adapt your own novel?

Garcia: It’s not that the book is necessarily that personal and that it’s emotionally difficult to make the transition; I got over that years ago. Books are books and films are films and that’s that. It’s more about finding a cinematic way into a story that takes a different tactic in the way it tells the tale. In this case, The Repossession Mambo novel was told in constant flashbacks, jumps in time, linked only by theme, etc. Hard to do a narrative that way, so it came down to figuring out a way through the story…30 drafts or so later, I think we cracked it.

Shock: Did you intend to explore something more serious within the confines of a genre tale, or is the goal telling an entertaining story?

Garcia: The first goal is always to entertain – to keep the reader reading, to keep the audience member fascinated, to keep the TV viewer glued to his butt. That’s what I try to do with everything – bring someone into a certain world, and immerse them for as long as possible. That said, it’d be a dull world indeed if it didn’t have a point-of-view, and that point-of-view is nearly always my own. No one would listen if I wrote a 300-page polemic against usurious credit card companies and a predatory health care system, but if it’s done under the guise of sci-fi – and specifically sci-fi comedy – then perhaps it’s a way in.

I think that’s what all good science fiction does (and here I definitely put District 9, Dawn of the Dead, and my favorite film of all time, Brazil) – attempt to find some part of ourselves that we can then extrapolate into another world, some small little crack we can blow open into a fascinating chasm to explore. I hope to do that with my work; don’t know if I always succeed, but it’s what I strive for.

Repo Men opens on March 20.

Source: Paul Doro