Today we travel to Richardson, Texas to chat with Jason Graff about how bewilderment, poetry, being a cat person, talking less, and listening more are a part of Jason’s past and present life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Richardson, Texas with my very supportive wife, somewhat less supportive 4 year-old son and completely indifferent cat. I have published poetry, essays and short stories in a number of different genres in journals around the world.
Like most writers, I find people endlessly fascinating. I’ve always been interested in why people do what they do. Sometimes, inspiration comes from bewilderment at my own behaviors and reactions to situations. I believe that for the most part, any good story is partially a mystery in which the writer reveals the reasons for why characters are the way they are and by extension, tries to offer humanity some sort of explanation for our existence. I suppose that sounds kind of lofty and naïve but then, I make up things for a living, so my thinking isn’t exactly what you’d call totally clear-headed.
In which genre do you write?
I primarily write literary fiction but dabble in a bit of everything. I find genre labels limiting as an artist and really just want to tell great stories.
How many published books do you have?
I have three. Two lit-fic, heckler and Stray Our Pieces and a dark fantasy romance, In the Service of the Boyar (Kindle title The White Wolf’s Secret.)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I started writing poems in high school when I was supposed to be doing my school work. Back then, I was writing to get the attention of the girls I had crushes on, sometimes with disastrous effects. (One girl, whom I will not name, had a boyfriend who punched me for my efforts. Everyone’s a critic was a lesson I learned early on.) So, I think I was a writer before I even thought of it as a career path. I just was one.
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
I’m a cat person, so I have to go with a cat. They’re not made happy that easily and can be difficult to deal with for no apparent reason, and I think that pretty well describes my relationship to my work.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
My couch has a chaise lounge. I am perfectly happy stretching out on that with my computer propped on a lap desk.
What are you currently reading?
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
heckler started off as a short story about a boy flipping through the pages of his family’s hotel registry and trying to guess who his father was. He traced his fingers over the names, tried to remember their faces, tried to remember if they looked like him. A generating scene that I don’t think made it as far as the second draft.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
Talk less and listen more. You’re not as funny or insightful as you think are.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
Why do you eat plastic?
Are you interested in at least trying to learn to use the toilet?
Did we know each other in a past life?
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a story about a romancing conman who gets older women to fall in love with him, then takes their jewelry. It’s told not just from his prospective but that of his current quarry, his wife and other members of his family. I saw an episode of Unsolved Mysteries about one such figure years ago and have always been kind of fascinated by the psychology that would lead to such a life.
Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.
heckler takes place in a rundown family hotel in a made up town somewhere in the American Rust Belt. The chapters alternate over a two year period that traces the life of the family who owns the place and a couple of the lodgers that come to stay there. Everyone in the story searches for a way to make their life their own, so the narrative draws much of its tension from the tendency people have for self-sabotage.
It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jason. My cat, who has long ago crossed the rainbow bridge, used to eat plastic too! In addition, she ate all my house plants, which I replaced with fake plants. She ate those, too. She was interesting, to say the least. Wishing you all the best!! –Camilla
Back cover copy:
“…you’ll learn as you get older that time goes by quickly, especially for adults,” Ray Davis writes in a letter to his son that he hopes will explain why he’s been away for so long. In the two years since he last saw his father, Bruno, who once yearned to be entrusted with manning the desk of the family hotel on his own, has grown to resent every moment he’s forced oversee its empty lobby.
His mother dreams that he’ll take over the business one day, but Bruno has more immediate concerns. Adjusting to the changes his teenage body is going through is complicated by the attraction he feels to both sexes. His only escape is to the movie theater across the street, where he loses himself in the black and white world of Hollywood’s Golden Age. After being turned away from a showing of Psycho, he runs into his former tutor, Rick French. While the academic substance of those sessions largely has faded, Bruno never forgot how Rick had first awakened feelings that he’d been too young to understand. As they renew their relationship, Bruno begins to glimpse the man he can become. Though he’d like to act on his desires, he cannot help but still feel like a callow pupil in Rick’s presence. Stuck somewhere between maturity and childhood, Bruno strives to avoid the lonely future of a hotelier.
Where to find the books:
Stray Our Pieces https://www.waldorfpublishing.com/products/stray-our-pieces
In the Service of the Boyar https://www.amazon.com/Service-Boyar-Jason-Graff/dp/0692738959 aka The White Wolf’s Secret https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BDDDQDL/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2
Connect with Jason:
Facebook: Author Jason Graff
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2 Replies to “Meet the Author: heckler by Jason Graff”
Thanks for the great questions and wonderful experience!
You’re welcome Jason! It was great having you be a part of MTA! All the best to you!