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Lou Harry is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for Indianapolis Business Journal. He has authored or co-authored a large number of books including The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures, In the Can, As Seen on TV, Creative Block, and The High-Impact Infidelity Diet: A Novel and created popular novelty items such as the The Portable Voodoo Kit.

His work has appeared in many magazines and he was the editor of the now defunct Indy Men’s Magazine. He agreed to speak with us because, in America, he’s free to do so.

As a writer you really cover the spectrum of areas. Do you suddenly want to jump to a new format or do you force yourself to change it up to keep it interesting?

Having worked in city and regional magazines for most of my life, I’m used to genre-jumping. One month you’re working on a business story, the next month you’re doing a celebrity profile. I’m comfortable with that.

When it comes to books, half of my work is commissioned by the publishers. They have an idea for a book and they come to me to develop and execute it. Since I have no control over the core idea then, voila, I’ve got another oddball item on my resume. (My response when an editor asks me “Do you know anything about ‘blank’?” is something all freelancers should learn: “I wouldn’t pass myself off as an expert, but I think I could ask the right questions.”)

As to my self-generated stuff, I am very open to letting a work take the form that it wants. For instance, a screenplay that I worked on way back when didn’t sell. I took the core idea and developed it, with a co-writer, into a very different sort of novel. That didn’t sell either. In rewriting the novel, a play emerged. That play, “Midwestern Hemisphere,” is getting a world premiere in April of this year. The story finally told me what shape it wanted to take. (Any theater producers out there interested in reading it, jot me a note at workforlou@aol.com.This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Or come out to Indianapolis and see it.)

Did you take your MySpace picture especially for MySpace? Because, well, you gotta admit that it differs pretty wildly from the A&E blog picture. We’re just sayin’

Do I seem like the kind of guy who would take a picture just for MySpace? Sometimes, I just don’t think you know me at all.

We’ve been working on a novel for the last decade. Yet you’re not even old enough to need Flomax® and you’ve published a load of books AND been a creative force behind many interesting products; where does the motivation come from?

Massive debt is the best motivator in the world. Lots of people have tried it. Maybe you should, too. [Yeah, become a writer for the money. Suuuuure Lou -Ed.]

You legendarily smelled Morton Downy Jr.’s breath. Which of the following four things did it NOT remind you of? (There are no wrong answers).
1. baby squirrel hearts
2. burning dynamite fuse
3. Britney Spears
4. freedom

It sure as hell didn’t smell like victory, I can tell you and Robert Duvall that. If I ever talk to Robert Duvall, of course.

In your books “In the Can: The Greatest Career Missteps, Sophomore Slumps, What-Were-They-Thinking Decisions and Fire-Your Agent Moves in the History of the Movies” and “You Loose Some, You Loose Some” you examine failure. What’s the fascination?

Seriously. How difficult was it for you to land this interview?

Follow up question: Me falling into a manhole and dying is tragic; you falling into a manhole and dying is comedy. So what was your greatest personal failure? (This interview can’t count.)

Greatest personal failure, I think, was when I was in the back of the theater during a taping of Mr. Show when guest star Michael McKeon blew a pre-show kiss to actress Annette O’Toole, who was standing next to me. What I should have done, I realized a few seconds too late, was to blow a kiss back, since the angle of trajectory of the blown kiss could just as easily have been for me as for Ms. O’Toole.

Thus, I would have freaked Mr. McKeon out a bit just before he went on the air and I’d have a story to tell that would be a lot more fun than this one.

Second greatest failure: Being canned by Philadelphia Magazine back in the 90s by a twerp of a new editor. Third greatest failure: Accidentally stepping on that leprechaun.

Follow up question 2: Any insight as to why MS Word doesn’t recognize the word “schadenfreude?” Because it’s really hard to spell.

Try going though life with your name being filed under Harry Lewis and then we can talk about frustration.

Speaking of failure and writing, this is our personal favorite question for all successful authors: Tell us why all the dejected, depressed, hopeless writers out there are never going to be famous.

Sounds like my sad friend needs to listen to Dick Van Dyke singing “Put on a Happy Face” from the original cast album of “Bye Bye Birdie” or “Make Someone Happy” from the musical “Do-Re-Mi.”

(Have I mentioned that I’m a musical theater addict? And that I blog on the arts at ibj.com? And that it bothers me a little too much when people refer to Broadway show recordings as “soundtracks” when they aren’t really
soundtracks?)

“Days of Heaven” is also one of our favorite films (despite Richard Gere). We even wrote a pretentious film school paper on it once. Why do you like it so much?

Just about every frame of “Days of Heaven” is a work of art and it’s got an almost Biblically elemental story. But a very human, deeply moving story as well. “There Will Be Blood” could take some lessons from it.

Also, untruth be told, I had a crush on Brooke Adams but not enough of a crush to want her for myself. Who can handle that sort of responsibility, her being a big-time actress and all of that? So I thought, wow, what if I was in love with her and she was in love with me but there was also a wealthy landowner who loved her as well and he thought that we were brother and sister and so married her?

Then along comes this movie and, well, that should give you some insight into why I liked it, shouldn’t it, Mr. Question Man? Mr. Trying-to-figure-me-out-because-of-a-movie-I-like Man.

We don’t have a tenth question. But you’re one of the most creative people we’ve ever interviewed so help a brotha out and ask yourself one. Thanks.

Hey Lou, what’s next? Glad you asked. Look for “Pop Culture Parenting” in stores in ‘08. Encourage your local theaters to take a look at “Midwestern Hemisphere.”

And, while you wait for the Hollywood writers strike to break and the cameras to get rolling on the film version, pick up a copy of my novel The High-Impact Infidelity Diet: A Novel. In fact, get your book club to read it. I’ll even come hang out with your book club and talk about it if you take care of transportation and pizza. We could do it by phone, of course. But then I won’t get to do my dance. Or, at least, you won’t be able to see it.

Unless we use Skype; but that’s not all that reliable.