A Brief report from Edinburgh online about Daniel's appearence at the festival
Edinburgh Book Festival: Daniel Depp
By Per Fischer - Posted on 17 August 2009
Daniel Depp is on a European tour to promote his debut novel Loser’s Town, a detective crime novel set in sun scorched Los Angeles.
Unexpectedly, the Hollywood stardust sprinkling from Mr Depp was not enough to fill the Scottish Power Studio Theatre in Charlotte Square Gardens. After all, Depp is a Hollywood insider, having written the screenplay for the Palme D’Or nominated film The Brave (1997), directed by and starring Johnny Depp, who also happens to be Daniel’s half-brother.
Just like his fictional creation David Spandau, former Hollywood stuntman now private eye, he’s a normal human being with a foot inside the Hollywood dream machine. Cue the themes for this author event at the first day of the 2009 Edinburgh Book Festival: Hollywood and detective fiction.
For starters, Depp looks nothing like his character Spandau. No Armani suit, no cowboy boots, just a plain old blue shirt, grey-white canvas trousers, glasses and an Iain Banks goatee. Truth is, Depp looks more like Iain Banks than Johnny Depp.
Loser’s Town is set in Hollywood, in the world of movie actors, and it’s a darkly comic depiction of the dark side of the Hollywood film industry.
Depp has no illusions about this industry, and summed up the life of a film star: “When you are at the top of your game they treat you like god. People give you things, you don’t have to spend any money. Women throw themselves at you, people tell you how brilliant and wonderful you are, and there’s vast, obscene amounts of money involved, you know? People think they want that and that’s the tragedy of it. There’s a horrible price to be paid for it. The system will kill you in the end.”
Depp’s two main inspirations are Raymond Chandler and Ingmar Bergman, while he acknowledges the brilliance of many other crime or detective fiction writers of the past and present.
Depp grew up reading hardboiled fiction, especially Hammett and Chandler. While Hammett’s characters seem to be working without a moral imperative, Chandler is very different. “Marlowe is like Lancelot,” Depp told the audience, “he’s looking for the holy grail. What’s the holy grail? Basically he’s looking for some kind of goodness in the heart of man. He never gives up on his central belief, and that is a central belief that Sam Spade in the Hammett novels never had.”
The Bergman inspiration comes not as much from his films, but from his writing about films. According to Bergman, films are, like magic tricks, merely creating an illusion. In effect, when film makers become very good at creating this illusion, they become very good liars. “Hollywood is a big machine for making pictures,” Depp said, “it’s a giant machine for telling lies.”
At the closing questions from the audience, one punter wanted to know why the novel is called Loser’s Town? The title came from a Robert Mitchum quote that is in the front of the book, where the actor described Los Angeles in thirties as a loser’s town attracting all sorts of people from the rest of the USA.