Today, we have author Jack Remick with us. He is a poet, short story writer and novelist. Jack is a modest man who loves the written word. His first published novel, Blood, A Novel, was in 2011 with Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press. In 2012, Coffeetown Press published the first two volumes of Jack’s California Quartet series, The Deification and Valley Boy. The final two volumes, The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls, will appear in 2013. His most current release is a contemporary women’s literary novel, Gabriela and The Widow, also published by Coffeetown Press.
Jack, what are some of the things or people who have influenced/inspired your writing? Can you share some writing experiences with us?
Four people have shaped my writing world: Jack Moodey, Thom Gunn, Robert J. Ray, and Natalie Goldberg. As a naïve and very young poet, I met Jack Moodey. Of course, being young and stupid, I knew everything so in a discussion with Jack about poetry; I asked him if he’d ever written an epic poem. His reply: “Six lines or eight?” BAM. First idea that this might be harder than I imagined.
Then I met Thom Gunn who was teaching poetry at Berkeley. He called me in one day to talk about my latest poetic effort. I remember his words exactly: Jack, if you live in another man’s universe, it will be smaller than the one you create for yourself. Second BAM. Lesson? Don’t imitate your predecessors; create your own world.
Later, I met Robert J Ray, the mystery novelist and intellectual mentor to generations. Bob led me to “timed writing” also called “writing practice” or writing under the clock to free yourself from the internal editor. Third BAM. There’s an internal editor? Get that guy out of the way. Without Bob, there are no novels in my life.
Then, Taos. Natalie Goldberg and the Zen of Writing. In Taos, I listened to Natalie say: Writing gets more writing. You walk in the mist you get wet. Writing connects mind to mind. Finish what you start. Shut out the noise. Fourth BAM. No such thing as writer’s block, put pen to paper, it’s okay to write memoir. All writing is in the body. The body is the focus and the be-all and end-all of writing. You want to click into the viscera of being alive, shut out the noise, listen to the whispers of time and let them guide your pen.
Tell us briefly about your recently published book and what you feel is the most important topic/sub-message you share.
Gabriela and the Widow is a very personal novel not at all based on personal experience. It is a novel about two women, one dying—The Widow; the other—Gabriela, is blossoming. It is an archetypal Mother-Daughter novel working the idea that culture passes through women. It is built on the notion that our memory is fallible and that our stories have to be written down for them to be meaningful. It is a novel about the transformative power of love and respect. It is also a novel built on the idea that women share deep and universal secrets regardless of which culture they live in.
It has been my experience, some things come quite easily (like creating the setting) and other things aren’t so easy (like deciding on a title). What comes easily to you and what do you find more difficult?
Discipline is my answer to this question—I write in scenes. Scenes have structure. Structure means setting, character description, action, dialogue, intruder, conflict, resolution, climax and hook to the next scene. My experience has taught me this—you’re not writing a novel, you’re writing a dramatic scene. Each scene hooks to another scene. Scenes link together in plot tracks. Plot tracks are built on objects, characters, actions, or symbols. This process is an integrated one that starts with—the scene and its parts. I’ve put all of this information on the blog I keep with Robert J. Ray, check the blog out here.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?
No. I have never suffered from writer’s block. I write by hand on yellowed lined paper. I set a timer and write until the timer goes off. My discipline is this—finish what you start. Honor your words. Type up what you write. The most important thing—work with other writers. Force yourself to put pages on the table. Listen to what your readers tell you. Writer’s block can mean, and it means different things to different writers, that you’re afraid of what you’re doing. Get it out in the world. Don’t listen, as Natalie Goldberg say, to “monkey mind.” Monkey mind shuts you down.
What type of books do you mostly write?
I’ve written a broad range of books from book-length poems such as Josie Delgado to the non-fiction The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery. Right now, I’m completing The California Quartet, all literary fiction. Blood is on a shelf by itself because I’m not sure just what it is so I keep it in a glass case apart from the other work.
Jack, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published, in regards to your writing career?
I don’t think so. Where I am right now is the result of where I was. I look more to the future—what am I doing now that’s shaping what I will be. If you recall, Edit Piaf’s anthem, “Non, je ne regrette rien…” I don’t regret a thing. Put it another way—I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t made the mistakes I did.
How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic and print on demand?
The industry has changed and will continue to change. I like the world of instant e-books, but I don’t own an e-reader. I like to buy books, carry books around, fall asleep with a book on my chest, and sleep with books beside my bed like cats. The way I see it, the changes in the industry have forced writers to do more of the work publishers used to do. Like this blog tour.
Jack Remick, thank you for taking the time to share with the Blogcritic readers about being an author.
You can find out more about Jack Remick, his books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour
Follow Jack Remick at
Author page: http://jackremick.com
Twitter: @jackremickPowered by Sidelines