Friday, June 25, 2010

Fresh Voice: John Jasper Owens!

"we do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit." - E.E. Cummings

Welcome to the latest edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the voice of John Jasper Owens.

What is your ultimate writing goal?

I'd like to be able to support myself as a novelist, that failing, as a content provider, that failing, as a creative writing teacher with barely concealed bitterness, that failing, as a riverboat gambler who tells interesting stories between hands of faro.

Why do you write?

Because I have to. Pat, but true.

Your writing style is at turns immersive and satirical. Have you worked to achieve that voice or is it just a natural style for you?

I rock a lot of different styles and genres. It's a conscious decision. My natural "voice" (I hate putting things in quotations, but that calls for it) is probably first person POV with some language issues and occasional wry asides. I tend to poke at the fourth wall and speak directly to the reader - not always a good thing.

Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?

I could do a laundry list here and I'd still leave a dozen people out. The first name that popped into my head was TC Boyle, so lets go with him. Been reading a lot of Robert Parker lately.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?

I like to entertain people. It's all very "look at me," the same plague that afflicts actors and comedians. As far as writing as a business, I enjoy the usual perks - flexible hours, etc. Satire groupies.

If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?

Actor or comedian, apparently.

If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?


What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?

Now that's a tough one. I've had a lot of creative writing classes and been in a lot of workshops; I've had a great deal of good advice fall on my head. I'll tell you the best advice I ever found out on my own - some editors get you and some don't. The same piece that gets bounced with a form rejection can easily be bought with an enthusiastic acceptance next submission. It's nothing personal (it really isn't).

Extra Credit Question: What advice would you give to struggling authors?
Know the market you're submitting to. The most beautiful slice of life family drama ever written will never, ever, ever be accepted at a fantasy magazine. But fantasy mags get that kind of stuff all the time. And if you actually read a market before you sub to it, your chance of acceptance goes up exactly 4,000%.

John Jasper Owens was born in the south and wasn't able to achieve escape velocity. A decent example of his work can be found here.

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