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It started as a book: 'Savages' by Don Winslow

July 6, 2012 |  1:18 pm

This weekend Oliver Stone's "Savages" hits screens with a stylish amount of uber-violence and a star-filled lineup that includes John Travolta, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek. It'll certainly be something to watch.

Two years ago, it was something to read. Don Winslow's stylish, fast-paced SoCal noir follows the story of a territorial struggle between powerful Mexican drug interests and two American pot growers, whose mutual girlfriend gets kidnapped. Rescue efforts ensue.

When the book was published, the L.A. Times called it a "marvelous, adrenaline-juiced roller coaster of a novel." Our reviewer wrote, "Winslow buffs the surface to high gloss only to dirty things up pretty fast." One of the pot growers, Chon, "has always known that there are two worlds: The savage/the less savage."

At Grantland, John Lopez asked Winslow how he wrote the characters so well. "A lot of it’s just hanging around Laguna Beach and listening," Winslow says. "It’s funny sometimes — my editors from the East Coast don’t believe this. And I say, 'You know what, get on an airplane, I’ll pick you up at John Wayne Airport, and if I can’t take you to these people in 45 minutes, you win.'"

In the short time since the movie was announced, Winslow went back to the keyboard and returned to the characters in "Savages." That book, "The Kings of Cool," makes its debut on the L.A. Times bestseller list this Sunday. It's a prequel to "Savages."

“I wanted to tell an origins story," Winslow told KPCC's Madeleine Brand. "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."


Movie review: Oliver Stone's 'Savages'

Don Winslow's 'Savages' gets film and prequel

L.A. Times bestsellers: 'Savages' by Don Winslow

-- Carolyn Kellogg