BULLshot: Charley Henley

PW: I really like the roadside motel scene. Will you discuss how setting effects your stories/writing?


CH: As settings go, I like roadside motels for their transience. You pull into a roadside motel, you’re tired from the drive and you grab a cheeseburger at the diner. You get a six-pack at the truck stop and you watch a bad movie on the television. But there’s more to it than just that. It’s a microcosm of the world in there. They have art on the walls. They have a Bible in the nightstand. It’s the kind of place where anything can happen. We’re rootless in motel rooms, cut off from our everyday lives.

You stay in roadside motels, you start to wonder about the thousands who’ve slept there before you. People have died in that room. Babies have been born. Certainly, plenty of babies have been conceived. There’s that the eroticism that surrounds the roadside motel, all of the honeymooners and the adulterers and the prostitutes and the johns. Whenever a story enters a motel room, it’s immediately charged with that erotic energy. But there’s a great deal of despair and loneliness in a motel room, too, all those people sitting on the edge of that same bed, weeping over the shattered ruins of the lives they’ve left behind. As settings go, that just seems to contain it all, especially, if you can hear the train from across the desert or the water from beyond the dunes or the tractor-trailers out on the Interstate or a bunch of bikers down at the OA.

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