Monday, August 14, 2017

Interview with humor writer Jass Richards

Comediane Jass Richards joins me today to talk about her new humor novel, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God.

Jass Richards has an M.A. in Philosophy and used to be a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-out-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants.

Her most recent novel, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God has been called “highly entertaining … and a riveting read” (Midwest Book Review). In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour, and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head,” followed by its sequel Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun. Several of her pieces have appeared on Erma Bombeck’s humor website, “The O & D” was published in The Cynic Online Magazine (Sep 2011), two excerpts from This Will Not Look Good on My Resume have been selected for Contemporary Monologues for Young Women (vol.3), and Substitute Teacher from Hell was produced and performed by Ghost Monkey Productions in Winnipeg (2014).

Her worst-ever stand-up moment occurred in Atlanta (at a for-blacks-only club) (apparently). Her best-ever stand-up moment occurred in Toronto (when she made the black guy fall off his stool because he was laughing so hard at her Donovan Bailey joke).

Welcome, Jass. Please tell us about your current release.
Here’s the blurb:

You ever have a neighbour whose behaviour is so mind-bogglingly inconsiderate and so suicide-inducingly annoying that you just want to ask him, in a polite Canadian way, to please stop?

TurboJetslams isn't like that.

Jass Richards' new novel, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God, tells the tale of one person's pathetic and hilarious attempts to single-handedly stop the destruction of a little piece of beautiful Canadian wilderness by the increasing numbers of idiots who couldn't care less.

A quick and entertaining summer read. A perfect cottage-warming gift. Boomer lit. Sure to resonate with paddlers and nature lovers everywhere.

What inspired you to write this book?
My primary reason for writing this book was to inspire a bit more respect for others’ quality of life. I find that we are living in a culture of less civility and more ‘entitlement’—people have gone overboard with rights talk and now often claim they have the right to do whatever they want (especially when on their own property). They forget that their right to X stops at someone else’s right to Y; in the words of someone philosophical, ‘Your right to freedom of movement stops at my nose.’ In other words, rights are not absolute; they are often in conflict and we need to figure whose rights or which rights should take priority when.

Exacerbating this is that we seem to priortize the physical, forgetting that the visual and audio can be just as intrusive, just as much a trespass on other people’s space.

Of course, there was also the environmental motive—we mistakenly think that ‘cottage country’ is pure and will, somehow, always stay that way—though I think that ship has sailed.

Also, I hoped to speak for other people who are just as angry and just as dismayed at the demise of the little natural beauty that remains, especially when it is being destroyed by idiots for no good reason. 

Lastly, TurboJetslams:Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God was personal therapy: I tried to turn tears of frustration and screams of anger into laughter. And since almost all of the triggering events in TurboJetslams actually happened, it was a stay-out-jail card: writing about what I really wanted to do kept me from actually doing it.

Excerpt from TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God:
The next week, a trailer appeared on a piece of land mid-way up the lane. Again, Vic had thought the land in question was part of the lots on either side, not a separate lot.
The appearance of the trailer meant that within two years (the Township did have one bylaw), a cottage would be built. She hoped they’d hire the local construction crew. It would be done in three weeks, Monday to Friday, nine to five. If they did it themselves, there’d be no telling how many years it would take.
It also meant that, in the meantime, they’d have to pay just $200 a year in property taxes instead of something closer to $2,000. Even though they’d use the roads, the dump, the library—scratch that, what was she thinking—even though they’d use the roads and the dump just as much. More, probably.
And since they probably wouldn’t pay to hook up to hydro until they started building, it meant that everyone on Paradise Lake would hear their generator whenever they wanted to watch tv. They’d probably also hear their tv, given how loud it would have to be to be audible over the generator.

When she paddled past, on her way up the river, she saw that the teenaged son was up with all of his friends. Three tents were set up around the trailer.
She thought for a minute. Had she seen an outhouse? Or would there be shitting in the bush. Ten feet from the lake.
She heard a belch. A long, extended belch.
A lot of shitting in the bush.
She considered giving a heads-up to the woman down-current with the red bathing suit who swam every day. Scratch that. Used to swim every day. (The jetslams near-slammed into her one day.)

She thought nothing more of them until well after she’d returned. Until two o’clock in the morning, in fact. At which time the bongo drums started.
They probably have a fire too, she thought, as she set aside her work and headed out.
It was that whole primeval thing again. Sitting by a fire, sending messages by drum, chowing down on a mammoth— What’s next, she wondered as she got to their driveway, hurling spears?
Something whizzed by, just missing her face.
“What the fuck?” she screamed as she dove into the bush.
“Sorry!” How he’d heard her, given the bongos, she had no idea.
She picked herself up and walked in.
They had one of those straw targets set up on the driveway. Its back to the road. See what she meant by the drop in IQ due to all that DEET and two-stroke engine fumes?
It was, she noticed, as yet unpunctured.
“Give me that thing,” she said to the nearest twenty-something, the one with the bow and arrow in his hand. He handed it over. She loaded the arrow and fired it into his leg.
“Fuck!” he started hopping.
“And enough with the bongos!” she screamed.
They stared at her.
“There’s a fire ban,” she said then, searching for the one in charge. The one with half a brain.
“What’s a fire ban?” someone asked.
What? What?!
“We haven’t had rain for over two weeks,” she explained. “No outdoor fires are allowed.”
She waited for it. Altogether now, ‘We can do whatever we want on our own property!’
Surprisingly enough, they were silent. Probably still trying to figure out the relevance of rain to fires.
“Suppose that thing,” she pointed to the six-foot high blaze, “throws a spark.” She bent down, picked up a rock, and tossed it into the fire. Some of those present—not all, note—moved back from the shower of sparks.
Unfortunately, one of the sparks landed on one of the tents. Nylon, it blazed immediately.
Shit. She looked around, but they didn’t have buckets of water at the ready. Of course not.
“Call 911!” she screamed. Her cabin was just five lots away.
“And enough with the bongos!”
But as quickly as it had blazed, the tent, now an ex-tent, had congealed into a sad, melted marshmallow.
“Never mind.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the fourth Rev and Dylan novel. This one is about an app that creates a sex-changing (or at least gender-changing) hologram, making women appear as men and men appear as women. Rev and Dylan become part of the beta testing team.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was eight and wrote a poem about my dog, Rexie. It rhymed.

Do you write full-time? No. I can’t imagine spending 8 hours a day working on a novel. Or even several novels. If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? I spend a lot of time kayaking and going for long walks in the forest. I do various things for just enough money to enable forementioned writing, kayaking, and walking.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t have one. Which is really weird because a lot of people say my writing is quirky.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If they want to buy any of my books from Smashwords, I’ll create a discount coupon for them to use.


THANK YOU for this!!

You’re quite welcome. Thank you for joining my blog.

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