JH: What influenced the structural choices you made in putting the book together?

RG: When I was 18, I discovered Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And around that same time, I discovered a book called AIDS, Inc by Jon Rappoport, which is a very hard-hitting investigative journalism look into alternative theories regarding the origin of AIDS. Was AIDS from a government laboratory, etc. It examines all the theories. I remember thinking it would be fascinating if you could combine the serious investigative journalistic tone of AIDS, Inc with this kind of crazy Gonzo narrative thing, like in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and I think Chameleo is a culmination of that interest on my part.

JH: A lot of otherwise open-mined readers might be repelled by your background in conspiracy theories, and yet, in Chameleo that tenuous narrative trope seems to be supported by the raw events unfolding in a kind of hyper reality. How is Chameleo different from other conspiracy-centric narratives?

RG: When conspiracy theorists publish–or, more often than not, self-publish–books, they are frantically attempting to disseminate what they feel is important, life-or-death information. This is not my main concern. I’m coming from a literature background. I’ve been publishing short stories since I was 25. Writers like John Fante, Henry Miller, and Charles Bukowski wrote about the reality around them. I’m engaged in the same process. It just so happens that the reality we live in today is overbrimming with conspiracies. If Mark Twain were alive today, I’m certain he would be writing about conspiracies. He wouldn’t be able to avoid it. I see Chameleo, primarily, as a work of literature. If the book does succeed in disseminating valuable information, it’s simply a byproduct of my desire to write about reality as I see it.

To read the rest of the interview, visit John Hawkins’s blog

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