James Ellroy has admitted that he can’t recall his mother’s voice in a revealing Letter to My Younger Self in this week’s Big Issue magazine.
The celebrated crime author, who penned The Black Dahlia novel that was later adapted for the big screen by Brian De Palma, revealed that the unsolved rape and murder of Gena Ophelia in 1958 was not the only reason he “went off the rails”.
But losing his mother at the age of 10 has meant that the 71-year-old’s memories of her have faded, even if that time of his life played a key role in defining his future career.
“I think it’s often specious to point to a single traumatising event, such as my mother’s death and say that’s when the die was cast. ‘That’s when he went off the rails’,” Ellroy told The Big Issue.
“I was no prize before my mother was killed. I was full of shit. I don’t think I was particularly intelligent – I’ve never scored well on intelligence tests. I think imagination and the will to create are more important than intelligence. I think I write well because I loved to read, and that was always my chief means of escape.”
Now, Ellroy is an older man, he admitted that he would be intrigued to hear Gena’s voice once again.