It’s actually a compliment to Teran that people think he must have lived the scenes he writes. But he says a lot of his fiction is pure imagination, with a substantial dose of hard research. "I will drive over and over a piece of ground until I’ve taken notes on 20 or 30 things. Or I carry a camera and take photographs of details."
Though Teran feels that movies have influenced the way people perceive things, and he takes that into account when he’s writing, he’s worried he might not be happy with a cinematic version, and he’s not fixated on the form: "I’d rather watch a good basketball game."
The characters? "I try to just say, ‘Are they human? Can you feel them?’ If you can do that, you can feel the drama."
As for the risk — as he sees it — of becoming a celebrity, a character in his own life, he’s serious about trying to avoid being turned into a burger chain. "I’ve lived a lot of lives, and I’ve had my own struggles, but at the end of the day I always start from one premise: emotional wholeness. If my writing career got too crazy, I would stop and move on. I would go back into the country, move to a small town and go by the name of Joe Smith, and start again with something else. It would be quite all right."
And how did he come to inspire all this brou haha, anyway? "Maybe because I’m just not trying to do it."
Teran is trying to do something, though, and for most of the book he succeeds. He has written a bloody thriller that displays literary ambitions beyond its caste — a tradition that goes back through James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and many others. And Bullet is more evidence that the caste system is obsolete.
Not that by some miracle he’s conjured a masterpiece out of his first pass. The relentless wordsmithing can be exhausting. (Don’t worry, though, you’ll quickly start to dig it, except in portions of the dialogue, where it’s hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t be annoyed by a character depositing lines like "Memories, dreams. They strobe at you" or "Like the polish on a cheap pair of shoes, your modest charm has scuffed away to leave you as you really are.") A number of scenes clearly exist for no other reason than to let Teran ruminate on truth and myth. Aside from a few treasured moments like the one where Bob tumesces while beholding Case’s firearm expertise, humor turns up absent. Motivations and plot sometimes require more than the usual extreme suspension of disbelief required by fantasy fiction (of which, despite its excellent eye for real-life detail, Bullet is an example).
But even James Joyce could have used a stronger edit. And the real test of God Is a Bullet is Teran’s own: Are the characters human? Can you feel them? They are, and you can. Enough so that you might even feel a little sympathy for the devil.