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Interview: Mick Foley (2003)

(Back in 2003, I had the chance to sit down with legendary wrestler Mick Foley. A WWE Hall of Famer, the former king of the death match had defied expectations by becoming a household name, and then pushed expectations even further by becoming a best-selling writer through his autobiographies. I talked with him just as his debut novel, Tietem Brown, was being published.)

Richard Whittaker: So what inspired your new book, Tietam Brown?

Mick Foley: It was actually inspired by the movie Affliction, with Nick Nolte and James Coburn. I really loved the movie, but thought it was flat-out miserable. There was really never any sense of hope whatsoever. So I wanted to do a father/son story, but I wanted to make the father considerably more charming than the James Coburn character was. At the same time, I wanted to write him with the potential to be equally as horrible.

RW: It’s pretty dark, and a far cry from the more entertaining world of pro-wrestling.

MF: I think for a while in my book, it is a fun world. There are glimpses of that world, and the main character, Andy, has the potential to really be happy. I don’t why it got so damn dark, but it was written just after September 11, and I think I wanted to write a book about hope in the face of hopelessness.

RW: There does seem to be quite a lot of you, Mick Foley, in the book. Was that a conscious decision when you were writing it?

MF: I realized that what people really liked about the autobiographies was the voice, and the fact that it really felt like they were hanging out with me. Except it was more exciting, because in truth I’m not all that cool to hang out with. I thought well, if I’m a pretty good story teller and people like my voice when I’m using it for real, then I’m not going to re-invent the wheel. I took a trip to China and I was writing a short story. At the end of the writing, I kept having to go back and changing the ‘I’s and ‘my’s to ‘he’s and ‘his’s. So I re-did the short story as a novel and just kept it in the first person. Continue reading Interview: Mick Foley (2003)