Monday's Featured Author is J.A. Pak. Read on to find out more about her and the unique way she's presenting her work....
Tell us a little about yourself:
After many years of living in England, I now live in Los Angeles where the almost relentless sunshine has erupted my creativity. As well as writing fiction, I blog about cooking and television.
Tell us about your story:
So Easy To Love
Eden Street Press
Currently being serialized on the website http://theblognovella.blogspot.com/
What is your story about?
It’s the story about Smithie, a failed perfectionist, who falls in love with her new boss, who’s more in love with a piano than Smithie. The story is told in blog form and includes a lot of movie discussions. The movies, of course, have to do with love.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I was living in England at the time, and in England, there’s a great tradition of reading light romance books during the summer. They’re known as beach reads because they’re the books women tend to take with them by the luggage-full while vacationing on the Spanish coast. One summer, I thought, instead of reading a romance novel, why not write one for the summer? I tended to write serious literary stories, so it was meant to be a fun diversion.
How long have you been writing? Have you been at this for a while, or is this a new journey?
I began in high school so I’ve been writing for over twenty years. A former reporter for Fortune magazine, my short stories and poems have been published in Quarterly West, Wicked Alice, Tatlin's Tower, ArtLife, Stirrings, Taint, Story House Coffee, Identity Theory, VerbSap, UpRightDown, Everyday Genius, Kartika Review, The Smoking Poet, and Split Quarterly.
What tools have you used in your journey to improve your writing?
I was a fairly serious reader, even as a teen, and I think that’s the best foundation for learning how to write. And then I was very lucky to have two wonderful teachers, one in high school and one in college. My high school teacher taught us to think of grammar and punctuation as tools to better our writing. She even went so far as to show language patterns of various famous writers and how scholars can identify writing through style, using how many times a writer uses a comma or a participial phrase. That was very enlightening. And then in college, my introductory English course professor was a poet who had no problems writing sonnets. She was very particular and her comments on a five-page essay would often extend beyond my own five pages. In high school they had taught us a very standard way of writing an essay, the whole pyramid thing with an intro, a main, and a conclusion that would be a regurgitation of the intro. My poet professor taught me to disregard all that and just get to the point.
Are you a solitary writer, or do you utilize critique groups?
I’m fairly a solitary writer, although recently, I’ve met fellow writers on Twitter who I’ve begun to rely on for feedback.
How much of yourself is present in your writing? Do you look back and find that characters possess a little of your own self in them?
I like to say that all my characters are me, and that none of the characters are me.
Tell us a little about you, the reader. What authors/genres do you love and why?
I have very eclectic tastes and will like a book because of the good writing above all else. My top favorite writers are Willa Cather, Thomas Pynchon, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Cao Xuequin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Jorge Luis Borges, Ursula Le Guin, Alice Monroe. I love their writing, what they have to say, the way they say it, the connections that they make.
Who is your literary idol and why?
At the moment it’s Mikhail Bulgakov. In his The Master and Margarita, there’s a section in which the reader is a witness to the first interview between Jesus and Pontius Pilate. The interview is nothing like the traditional story, yet Bulgakov convinces us that this was the only true account. That to me is what great writing is all about.
Name one character in any book that you would like to share a cup of coffee with. What would you discuss?
It would probably be Little Women’s Jo March. We’d discuss the courage it takes to keep writing.