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A trip through Southern California's drug trade in 'The Kings of Cool'

Promotional portrait of author Don Winslow.
Promotional portrait of author Don Winslow.

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Author Don Winslow is back with a new novel, “The Kings of Cool,” a prequel to his previous best-selling book “Savages,” which has been made into a movie by Oliver Stone and comes out today.

"The Kings of Cool" profiles the lives of the three characters from "Savages," before they ended up warring with a Mexican drug cartel. It also talks about the development of the drug trade in Southern California.

Madeleine talked to Winslow about his new novel, his role in the film version of “Savages,” and more.

On the need for a prequel:
“I wanted to tell an origins story. And I wanted to tell a story about families. When people are faced with a really hard choice between their biological families and their friends, sort of family that they’ve created on their own which is what happens in the “Kings of Cool”, people have to choose. And that to me was a really attractive story.

On the movie version of his book “Savages”:
“I think it’s a good film with some terrific performances and I am happy with it. Do I agree with everything? No of course not. You are never going to.”

On the counter-culture in Laguna Beach during the ‘60s and ‘70s:
“There was a moment in time when the hippies and surfers mixed. These two subcultures found each other on the beach in Laguna and started smuggling marijuana together.”

On researching the pot growing business:
“I’m not a drug grower or user for that matter … I went out and talked to people and interviewed people, read articles and looked at the various literature that’s out on it. I read up on the botany and biochemistry and things like that to make sure I had it right.”

On whether his experience as a private investigator helps his writing:
“I would say that the research techniques perhaps are similar. I was educated as a historian and then worked as a private investigator and both those fields involved dealing with a lot of research, a lot of documents and a lot of interviews.”

On his writing style:
“I just wanted to write a book and ignore all of the rules, ignore the so-called standards and just write a book the way that I felt I wanted to write it. At the end of the day it’s a book about rebellion, really.”

On why he writes:
“I like to have a relationship with the reader. And I like to move the reader around. And I like to have an impact and make people feel things and think things or have a fun ride or be afraid or be in suspense or whatever.”