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INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
What initially got you interested in writing?
I’d always written things since I was a very small boy making books for my mother, but I didn’t decide to become a writer until I was nineteen when I read The Old Man and the Sea. I read it over the course of one night and by 4AM I knew I wanted to do the same thing to future readers that Hemingway’s novel had just done to me.
How did you decide to make the move into becoming a published author?
The business end of it all has been so dysfunctional over the years. Ten years ago I had a book deal that went south, then there were endless query letters to agents who never seemed to make time to read full manuscripts. The only thing a writer has any “control” over is the work itself. So I would say that the decision to become a published author has more to do with simply capitalizing on opportunities whenever they present themselves. That’s about it.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
That war is waste–a waste of life, money and time. That Violence begets violence and that violence aboard comes back home to roost.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I live for those moments whenever a character I think I knew so well surprises me. For instance, Uncle Calsas, a sixty-year-old slave from a Texas cattle ranch, was a character I’d been working on in drafts dating as far back as fifteen years ago. Yet it wasn’t until maybe five years ago that someone demanded something out of him in a scene and he replied, “I reckon not.” He’s a slave, so he must bow to the will of his master. And yet that simple sentence is a declaration of independence (or at least protest) that revealed Calsas suddenly in a way I had not yet understood. What I love most about writing is whenever I feel like the characters are telling me their stories, not the other way around.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Well, it took a decade and a half and literally thousands of pages simply to reach page one of the final draft. Enough said.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
To only listen to those already living in the art world, not the business world. The business world is no more the “real world” than the art world, but rather one of two hemispheres. All my friends who chose the security that the business world offers over the freedom that the art world provides have largely regretted their decisions. We no longer live in an economy that rewards putting your passions aside in order to have a middle class lifestyle, so you ought to pursue those passions instead.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I’m an even better visual artist.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
My website, which launches on Feb. 16, is:www.JeffreyStayton.comwww.JeffreyStayton.com