Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interview: James Anderson @JAndersonAuthor

Today I'm pleased to welcome James Anderson to the blog to talk about his new release, "The Never-Open Desert Diner"

But first, a little about the book...

Ben Jones is a truck driver on a lonely stretch of desert highway when his life takes a sudden turn into mystery and longing when he discovers a young woman playing a cello in model home in a long-abandoned housing development in the high desert.

1.     What inspired you to begin writing? 
I have always liked my friend Luis Alberto Urrea’s response to that question: “I came from a family of unreliable narrators.” True for both of us.

2.     Would you classify your writing more as plot driven or character driven?  Character driven. Absolutely. My opinion is that readers, at least myself and the people I know, don’t care about the plot until they care about the characters. For me, a plot-driven story, and there are some damn good ones, don’t have the depth I like.

3.     Can you tell us a little about your main character?  Ben Jones is a truck driver in his late 30s whose route takes him on a daily back and forth along a desolate highway in southern Utah. He was an orphan who was adopted by an older couple when he was six. As far as he knows, he was the abandoned child of a female Jewish social worker and a native American.

4.     Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book. 
There are three primary conflicts, internal and  external. Ben loves his job delivering necessary items to desert rats who have exiled themselves in the desert, but he is fast going bankrupt. Ben wants to be married and have a family, but that just hasn’t happened for him, until he discovers a woman playing a cello in the model home of an abandoned and unfinished housing development in the high desert. She means him no harm, yet their relationship reignites a tragedy that occurred at a nearby diner forty years earlier.

5.     What do you hope readers take away from your book? 
All I can do is repeat what I’ve heard from reviewers and the kind people who have read it. They fall in love with the character of Ben Joes, who is complicated, laconic and sometimes amusing in his observations about himself and the eccentric characters he serves. Readers also love the natural world of the Utah desert in which Ben lives and how that environment intersects and influences the characters. In brief, a strong sense of place.

6.     Now for a few fun questions! What song best describes your writing style? That is a good question! Jazz-blues fusion spiced with grunge. How’s that? I was listening to a lot of Yo Yo Ma and Nirvana, particularly Heart-Shaped Box. My tastes are eclectic in art, literature and music, which partly explains the strangeness, which is why in one hour I can listen to Sage Francis and Miles Davis and Black Flag!

7.     Night Owl or Early Bird? I am usually up between four and five every morning and I write until about nine. It’s as much about time management as anything else. It’s quiet and beautiful in the early morning and it’s best to have that time before the fires of the day begin to scorch my butt.

8.     Skittle or M&Ms? Both. Often together. With popcorn.

9.     Who are your favorite authors? So many! Here’s a sample. Thomas Merton, Colum McCann, Bruce Berger, Terry Tempest Williams, Katherine Dunn, Luis Alberto Urrea. I read everything, from memoir, creative nonfiction, novels and poetry, neuro-physiology, biography.
Presently I am reading The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan and Luis Urrea’s Tijuana Book of the Dead. Formative and influential books include Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Marguerita and the seminal Pedro Paramo by Juan Rufalo.

 10.  Can you tell us about your future projects?  Gee, I hesitate to do that. What I can say is that I am always surprised at what I write, the stories and characters and settings. It is highly unlikely that anyone will ever accuse me of writing the same thing over and over.

Meet the Author

James Anderson was born in Seattle and raised in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and received his Master's Degree in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Boston. For many years he worked in book publishing. Other jobs have included logging, commercial fishing and, briefly, truck driver. He currently divides his time between Ashland, Oregon, and the Four Corners region of the American Southwest.

Author Links: www.jamesandersonauthor.com
FB Page: The Never-Open Desert Diner
Twitter: @JAndersonAuthor

Buy your copy today: 

Praise for "The Never-Open Desert Diner"

“High, dry and severely beautiful…a wondrously strange novel…Anderson is one fine storyteller.” — Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

         “Anderson's first novel…is a great one…(with) genius in creating characters that stay with you…They creep into your brain and settle in for a lengthy visit. You have not read a book like The Never-Open Desert Diner in a long time, if ever. Once you open its pages you will know you are in for something surprisingly enjoyable.”
— Jackie K. Cooper, The Huffington Post

“Anderson distills the heat and shimmering haze of the Utah desert into his fine first novel…. Just as important as the mysteries of human entanglement are the desert’s brilliant light, torrential downpours, and vast night sky.” —Publishers Weekly