Interview with author, Joe English (part 2)

Q.  Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?   

JE.   Definitely.   The rest of the world goes on, I am told and occasionally realize, while I am puzzling over a phrase, a sentence.   Should I add a poem to the beginning of a given  chapter to foreshadow  the chapter’s worth?   Should I use the word large or big?  Is the simile in the sentence “The sky was as blue as the bluest  eye. . .” apt?   [Answer:  no.  Why not?  Well, the sky is vast; the eye, small]. How about “The sky was as blue as the bluest eye and the jungle as green as gold”?  The second half not as bothersome, but still not quite there yet.  So, after hours and hours (literally) of tinkering, thinking, playing, rewriting:   throw the sky overboard.  Go with just the jungle:  “The rising sun stoked greens—emerald and jade, myrtle and moss—into glistening gold.”   There! 

Q. You have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.  

JE.   I am working on a short story.   What has kept me going all these years is that many, many readers have praised SCHUGARA.    Gratifying.   But the bills must be paid.  I am not sure I want to  put myself through the torture, abuse, neglect, duplicity, that an unestablished  novelist must endure.   Tell me:  is posthumous  recognition appealing?  I think frequently of Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”:  

Full many a gem of purest ray serene, 
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 
Full many a 
flow’r is born to blush unseen, 
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Q.  When did you begin to write seriously?    

JE.  Since I was a child, ten years of age of thereabouts.  I have always been fascinated with words.   Elegance has all but disappeared from writing.   From our use of language.   From our culture.   From the ways we interact with others. 

Q. How long after that were you published? 

JE.   High school.  Literary publication. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JE.   Having something to say and saying it well.  

Q.  (Note to Self: a life lesson you’ve learned.) 

JE.   I quote Lily Tomlin in SCHUGARA:  “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”  I don’t like saying so, or recognizing this, but I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, people simply don’t care, don’t give a damn, pay lip service to the concerns of others, and live inside solipsistic bubbles.  My advice to aspiring writers:  get off the beaten path.   If you are in a city, move into one of the many “ghetto” areas the United States cultivates, dumping grounds for people without money, for the most part people of color.  Do not get sucked into the television world of lies and happy faces:  YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!  HAVE IT YOUR WAY!   Those who are idealists in their teenage years and twenties sell out by age thirty without ever realizing so.     Do we need more stories about suburban angst?

 Q. and the all-important:  What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?   

JE.   A book is NEVER finished.  The writer must force himself/herself to stop.   Now that I have been forced to stop, I suffer the slings and arrows of trying to get attention paid.   The literary gatekeepers keep a close-knit mutually praising society, frightened, so it seems, at anyone or anything that goes against the grain.

Ours is a close minded culture, wherein those who know know they know better.   They are the tastemakers.   Do you think a novel published by a struggling tiny press located in Louisville, Kentucky, clearly the hayseed  capital of the nation, has a chance of being reviewed by the New York Times?

Did you miss part 1: Click here 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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