Friday, June 2, 2017

Interview with short story writer Nath Jones

Short story writer Nath Jones joins me today to talk about one of her literary collections, Radar Road: The Best of On Impulse.

Best New American Voices nominee Nath Jones received an MFA in creative writing from Northwestern University. Her publishing credits include PANK Magazine, There Are No Rules, and Sailing World. She lives and writes in Chicago.

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I enjoy being transported into the settings. I also enjoy putting together beautiful ways to convey what’s best about this life.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
“Bleach & White Towels” is a simple story of two guys at a bar one night in Milwaukee. “Hollace and Some Girl” is about an accountant who sits next to the right wrong person on an airplane. In “Norma L.” an elderly couple shares a meal with a combat veteran, who’s battered their nerves with his loud music and scratched up their antique table with his wheelchair.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
I write literary fiction because at its best it gets to the core of who we are as people.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just finished a novel. It’s about a woman named Jenks after she gets out of prison. She has two men in her life. One who knows what she did and one who doesn’t.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I had a zine in college with a fairly significant readership. That started in 1998. Many people have considered me a writer since then. But it was ten years ago that I rearranged my life to make writing my first priority.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
My advice would be to find organic ways to incorporate marketing into your life, allow it to be an extension of who you are.

In planning my most recent book tour, I was sitting in a coffee shop in the morning—like I did every morning—surrounded by likeminded people. I wondered, “How can I reach readers?” I could have spent years with the analytics. Instead I lifted my head up, looked around, and realized I was right in the middle of my demographic. The coffee shop book tour was formed from that. We had a lot of fun in twenty-two cities and ended up in thirty-three cities for the year.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I used to type ove instead of of. Currently I get up and write for an hour every morning, Monday through Friday—not too quirky. But going back a few years on New Years Eve of 2007 I had invitations to five parties. As I thought about my resolutions I realized I didn’t want to go to any of them. I wanted to write a book. So I stayed home and didn’t leave the house until I had. It took me about four days.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a bubble, but my mother said it would be impossible. I also wanted to sell shoes. I loved the way the shoe salesman would measure my feet so carefully, pick options, and find them in the back. Somehow I ended up in the army and later became a pharmacist. Through it all I knew I wanted to write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you’ll enjoy the book. This collection is the best of a series that explores narrative from catharsis to craft. I was really dealing with that tipping point between what is emotionally cathartic for the writer ala social media and the blogosphere and what is universally emotionally cathartic for the reader in the best literary fiction. For this book I printed out every piece in the first four books and mailed a huge binder to the editor in San Francisco. I said, “Tear out what you don’t want.” She sent back the most lovely manuscript.

Thanks for joining me today!

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