Andrew Klavan Interview: 'We’re at war, but Hollywood is still stuck in Vietnam.

“When I finished writing Empire of Lies I looked into the mirror and said, ‘Son, you’re never going to win another writer’s award." Successful novelist, screenwriter and political/cultural pundit Andrew Klavan grins at me over his coffee in a decidedly left-of-center “enemy camp” coffee house. Meeting with Klavan in a place like Studio City’s Aroma Café makes me feel like Patton’s Third Army has just shown up to support my tiny and outnumbered rifle squad.

Empire of Lies is Klavan’s fast-paced, gritty novel that features a conservative Christian protagonist who uncovers an extremist Muslin plot to kill hundreds, but can’t convince a duplicitous media of the terrible truth. Think of it as a kind of North by Northwest meets the War on Terror. The 2008 political thriller was a daring poke in the eye to the elitist New York and Hollywood left. His flawed heroes are part of what sets his writing apart. They’re made of flesh and blood with their own personal failings. “That’s my nature, I can’t write them any other way.”

Klavan’s erudite style and gutsy prose in books and screenplays like True Crimes, Don’t Say a Word, The Animal Hour, Corruption, Dynamite Road and the recently released Identity Man have earned him dazzling reviews, incredible sales, prestigious writing awards and international acclaim. His popular and no-holds-barred young adult series The Homelander, deals with the exploits of a teenager who wakes up to find himself in a radical Muslim United States and fights back.

“As a writer you’re artist and business man. You are your business, but you have to speak the truth, too. In the past I’d get two-hundred reviews on any of my other books, all great. Empire of Lies got one major review, which accused me of being a right-wing crackpot. Can I prove that happened because the central character is a conservative Christian and the bad guys are the media and Islamic jihadists? No, but it all seems pretty strange.”

Last year Klavan caused more than a few Hollywood lefties to choke on their morning croissants when he published a Los Angeles Times opinion piece dealing with the liberal blacklisting of film industry conservatives. Several so-called Hollywood journalists attacked Klavan demanding proof with a snooty attitude of, “We all know that conservative writers and filmmakers are just not as creative as liberals.”

A necessary tenet of most conservatives in Hollywood, besieged by a camouflaged brand of liberal fascism is not to out one of your own that has spoken in confidence. Klavan’s guarded list of those who have suffered left-of-center prejudice is indeed long, so instead he speaks openly of his own experiences. “Besides my novels, I’ve made a good living writing scripts for a number of years. I remember giving probably the best pitch on a project I’ve ever given. Afterward the producer was making small talk and said something about that ‘evil bastard (President) Bush.’ When I’m in a meeting and someone says America is stupid or evil I won’t let that pass.”

Klavan is an innately polite individual, so I can tell firmness, but not rudeness was inherent in his reply. “I let this producer know I was on other side and the whole mood changed to an obvious ‘don’t let the door hit you in the… on the way out.’ Then the phone stopped ringing.”

The successful writer actually wants everyone to have his say, even if he disagrees with your take on matters. That’s the American way, which makes it Klavan’s way. Not because it’s blind adherence, but because it’s fair, decent common sense. “Hollywood has made something like fifteen movies where the American military and the CIA are the bad guys in the War on Terror. None of which were successful. They made these movies for the acceptance of the liberal elites, who they want to associate with and get praise from. Where are the movies with Americans as the good guys? We’re at war, but Hollywood is still stuck in Vietnam.”

Klavan observes that these films have squandered hundreds of millions of dollars. “In how many other businesses are you not punished for your bad acts? These films flop here, but provide comfort to the enemy by bashing America and our troops. The studios sometimes make up the difference on foreign distribution and sales, so everyone looks the other way. A really great HBO film like Taking Chance, about the escorting of a fallen Marine’s body back to his native Wyoming was one of the networks most successful films last year. The old studios actually serviced their audience, the average American. These industry people today look down their noses at the average American, and it's costing them millions.”

Klavan isn’t venting either. I can tell that he’s thought this all out very, very well. “I’ve read the same books the left has read. And I’ve read the books that they pretend that they’ve read. The Hollywood elites thinks there is virtue in their culture of lies that America is evil and that Islamo-fascism somehow has a moral equivalence to Western values. After all, they’re the ones who invented Islamo-phobia. You can be completely politically correct and still be absolutely evil. What is so wrong about thinking that these guys are really bad when they want to kill me for not worshipping Allah? A guy who flies a plane into the World Trade Center, isn’t he a bad Muslim?”

Witness Hollywood’s most royal left-winger, Bill Maher, and his recent conversion on the subject of radical Muslims versus Western culture. Has he been reading his Klavan?

Two years ago the then fifty-two-year old writer managed to get embedded with a combat unit in Afghanistan for several weeks. “I wasn’t there to be a ‘macho war correspondent,’ but I needed to assure myself that what I was writing was the truth.” He found the American troops and the loyal Afghan Muslims fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda some of the most dedicated people he’d ever met. “I was only there for two weeks, I was never in the military and I kept thinking ‘Am I nuts, I could get shot.’ But those troops were some of the best people I’ve ever known, they really believe in what they’re doing. Every day our perimeter was protected by Muslim cops and troops.”

Klavan might almost be considered a conservative and literary “Man for All Seasons.” His novels hopscotch between elegant ghost stories to hardened modern detective noir and ground-breaking political thrillers, including his just-released Identity Man that deals with the real costs behind a second lease on life. He has published numerous insightful opinion pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, as well as the Los Angeles Times. Who else but Klavan could so skillfully show that the plot of Toy Story 3 really does represent a celebration of conservative values and ideals? His popular Klavan On The Culture feature on PJTV always hits the mark with smart and incisive humor on such left-wing taboo subjects as “Does Islam Suck?” and “Political Correctness Kills.”

Loony, elitist liberals are always easy prey in the sights of this rational thinking, UC Berkeley and real-life educated writer who is matter-of-fact about his own deeply held conservative values and Christian beliefs. “It kind of started for me during the Reagan period. I identified myself as a liberal, but I found certain things didn’t make sense. When I looked at the conservative side, I found there were a number of things I agreed with.”

Klavan does point out with some optimism that, “Things are getting better for conservatives in Hollywood. It started with films like 300, then The Blindside, Grand Torino and now Taken. We have a long way to go, but my phone has started to ring again.”

One thing does bother him though, “The one place conservatives in the arts fall down is in building a body of reviews, awards and creating our own grants. Writers and filmmakers are part of the arts community and we all crave recognition. That recognition is what will help us reclaim the culture, and that’s where the real battle that matters is.”

[Ed. Note: Tomorrow look for a Brad Thor's "Identity Man" review and the first part of two exclusive excerpts.]


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