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Walter Mosley lacks nothing except his two front teeth. His mind is wildly productive and wickedly inventive.
He considers the wide breadth of his work to be a seamless fit, to the amazement of readers and reviewers of his Easy Rawlins crime novels, science fiction, novels in the tradition of French thinkers, short stories about urban philosopher Socrates Fortlow, and the polemic "What Next: A Memoir Toward World Peace."
"He writes every day but for occasional times taken over by a funeral, or bringing his mother to the airport, or, yes, those book tours. He goes to his office in Greenwich Village daily, has meetings, and does his ‘book business,’ aided by his secretary, Corine.

It’s also the headquarters for his production company, and in truth he seems more of a film type than a jobbing author. The place has comfy sofas, multi-line phones, remotes for digital screens, a water cooler, stepping machine, and several open encyclopedias and dictionaries.

He keeps his huge comic book collection in a room behind the office and shows it off to visitors, adding anecdoteal pizazz. He considers his fun and his business one in the same, and does what he pleases.

Mosley's mien is nonchalant self-confidence that comes off as flamboyance when he laughs, and when he elegantly strolls the streets of Manhattan in his white straw hat- often to New York University, where he teaches English.

He says the very act of living is compulsive and doesn’t think his self-insistent, bedeviled demands are unusual. Taken over by the drive to write, he describes it as "gathering smoke," or ‘guerilla warfare’ with ‘no vacation, no leave, no relief."

The writing he does at home, in a nearby apartment. And he writes buck naked. At least, says he, "usually I don’t wear anything." For him this is the most natural thing in the world and he’s surprised when others are surprised.

He doesn’t see why people think writing in the buff is weird. After all, no one can see into his home from outside, and he feels better– and probably thinks better- in the nude.

Mosley was born 54 years ago in the Watts area of Los Angeles and experienced the famous riots when he was 12. He wasn't published until the early 1990's. One of his earliest novels, "Devil in a Blue Dress," went to the big screen, with Denzel Washington in the main role.

He shrugs off criticism that he’s living in a tony neighborhood, and responds, "Even if I’m not living in a ghetto, my heart and my mind and my work are there, so I’m not removed from it." With Mosley, he’ll have it his way– and that’s the way his readers like it.


The Man in My Basement created a stir. "Others may consider it a departure, but it’s not a departure for me," says Mosley.

It’s a story he had to get out, and  no one else could have thought it up. In his straight-forward, deceptively simple, way, he creates a bottomless moral inquiry that packs a wallop.

In a nutshell– he tells the story of Charles Blakey, a young black man who can’t find a job, drinks too much, and stands to lose the beautiful home that has belonged to his family for generations.

But his fortunes take an odd turn when a stranger offers $50K to rent out the basement for the summer. When he empties out the place he discovers, according to an antique dealer, that most of the things are of museum quality in the black history art market.

While he deals with that, he constructs a secret prison cell as per his renter’s specifications, becomes a prison guard, and is unsettled by his unimaginably bizarre situation. It’s not your ordinary story of power, evil, and redemption.



He wrote "47" for young adults. It's about a  slave boy named "47" on a 19th century plantation in Georgia.

Among Mosley's latest are"The Tempest Tale," and a book about the great bluesman Robert Johnson: Music in the Language. Yes, he covers a lot of ground. Follow the links below to get acquainted.

More good stuff about Walter Mosley:

go to Walter Mosley's books

go to excerpts of Mosley's books

go to hear Music in the Language: Mosely reading from his book on the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson

return to "Reading for Living"

Remain curious.