Name JD Mader
Where are you from?
My dad was in the Navy, so I have lived many places. We moved every two years on average. I was born in the deep south. I spent my early years in the UK. We lived in Pinner and I had a British accent and went to public school. Still have my uniform …actually, I think my knees are still cold. I started living on my own near the end of High School, and then I settled in San Francisco. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for half my life now, so I guess that’s home.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect?
I studied Creative Writing at San Francisco State. It was a fantastic experience. I have no idea what it’s like now, but in the late 90s they had one of the best programs in the country. I’d go to class, play music, work in coffee shops…I played in a band. It was a very fun and sometimes terrifying way to live.
My life now is very sedate. I’m married with two daughters. I like to fish. I ride a motorcycle on and off-road and get into a bit of shenanigans with that. I’m the President of the Prism Patch Motorcycle Club. I write all day long. I still write and play music, but just for fun. I collect vintage pocket knives. I have a cat named Cat that has been with me for fifteen years. Considering the number of incredibly stupid things I did when I was younger, I am VERY lucky that things have turned out the way they have.
I also got to spend almost a decade working with severely learning-challenged and at-risk youth. That was probably the best thing I have ever done. Again, I was very lucky to get a crack at it.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My second daughter, Luella, was born two months ago. She is wonderful, as is my oldest, Francine. So, that’s the latest news. Professionally, ‘The Biker’ is my latest novel. I recently released a collection of short stories, “Please, no eyes.”. I am working on an advice show with a friend of mine…
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My sister is four years older than me and she was a really good writer when we were kids. She still is. I wanted to be like her. That’s part of it. Writing came naturally to me as well (not that I didn’t need to spend YEARS practicing). I loved reading and writing from a very early age. When I was fifteen, I was a sportswriter for a local paper. It was a great experience. I met a ton of cool people. I also covered pretty much anything I could. I had a weekly column. I got paid to write when most people had to do much more boring things like deliver papers or mop floors.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I worked as a journalist, I decided I wanted to write fiction. As I said, I moved to San Francisco. I graduated and then worked for years, obsessively, on my writing. I never submitted anything because I knew I wasn’t good enough yet. The first story I wrote that I thought was worthy of submission, “Dinner with the Mercers”, was accepted by the Berkeley Fiction Review and the Chicago Quarterly Review. That was the day I considered myself a writer. A hell of a day.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote short stories for a long, long time. I still like short stories more than long fiction. I wrote my first novel (as yet unpublished, but it will be) because I wanted to see if I could do it. I have beginnings of novels I started in middle school. ‘Joe Café’ was my first published novel. And, again, it was a challenge to myself.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Other people describe my writing in lots of ways. Honest comes up a lot, but that makes me sound like an ass. It’s true though, I don’t pull punches. I would say that my writing is very anchored in character, psychology, etc. Everything I write is ultimately about the characters.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For “Joe Café” I decided to start with the premise of a horrible crime in a café and see where they book went. The café is actually a very small part of the book, but the name was there from day one. “The Biker” is an homage to the old western form and it just seemed appropriate to give it a very simple name. ‘Please, no eyes.” is named PNE’s because I used to share a computer with my roommate. All the things I wrote that I didn’t want him to read, I put in a folder called ‘Please, no eyes.’
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In everything I write, I want people to think about the fact that we try to simplify people when they are really quite complex. There is no good or evil. There are so many grey areas and we try to make them black and white. That’s what I am interested in…the grey areas.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Everything I write, though fiction, is realistic. Some of it is very dark, some not, but it is all real. Sadly.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Everything I write is based on every experience I have had, I think.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Ask The Dust, Stop Time, The Count of Monte Cristo…those three spring to mind for some reason.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
John Fante had a big impact on me. Right place at the right time. His work ethic and honesty had a big effect on my own work. And George Tabb, who is one funny bastard.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I barely have time to read. As a book lover, that is the one downside of writing so much. But I have been revisiting Cat’s Cradle. I love Vonnegut.
Fiona: Are there any new writers that have grasped your interest?
Jo-Anne Teal. She has been a big supporter of my writing, and I have had the pleasure of watching her come into her own. She is still blogging and writing stories, but she will go places, surely.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am working on the sequel to “The Biker”. And blogging. And the show…
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Internet. Without a doubt, the writers and readers I have met online have been amazing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is my career, yes. I do freelance work as well.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
One typo. But I might not even change that.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My family reads. Constantly. I grew up thinking everyone read books all the time. And I always wanted to express myself. When I was young, I stuttered and had other speech issues. Writing was a safe place for me.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is from “Hannigan’s Fight”, the sequel to “The Biker”:
The dream was nonsensical but vivid. Beneath the muck of color and noise, he could see himself. There was a haze of cigarette smoke…faces, veiled, floated through the miasma. He could see himself, but he didn’t recognize.
The Hannigan in the dream was scared. His shoulders were slumped. He looked tired. Like he was reaching for a rope and falling short. He was lifeless.
There were shuffling sounds from somewhere. Then the world tilted and he was looking into a face he had only seen a few times. Matt Stark. He did not look afraid. He looked like he was carved from stone. Then everything turned a very blood red. Hannigan opened his eyes and saw Mick smiling at him.
“You dreaming of the devil, mate?”
“Ar…nah, mate. Dreaming of a good friend. Why?”
“You were shaking and twitching something awful.”
Hannigan looked around him and saw a clean, empty bar. He looked at the clock. 3am.
“Shit. Sorry mate…I must be getting old. What do I owe ya?”
“Nothing you haven’t paid a hundred times over.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
In my fiction, not really…which sounds terribly pretentious. Freelance writing is particularly challenging in many, many ways.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can never pick a favorite. I like writers who write for themselves, with honesty and integrity. I was heavily influenced, and still am, by George Tabb.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at all. To the sofa and back.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I have designed all my covers. My wife supplied the pictures (she is an outstanding photographer). Nancy Lee Parish and Danielle Drake helped me tweak “The Biker” a bit.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The non-writing parts. Mostly promotion. I loathe it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn things all the time when I write. In fact, I’ve never really thought about it in these terms, but when I stop learning from writing, I will probably have to stop writing.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t listen to advice from other writers. And read Bird by Bird. That’s the ‘advice exception’.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just thanks. I am so grateful that people enjoy what I write and that people reach out to me. And please, understand that writers, for the most part, are very poor. If I like a book or an album that someone gives me, I’ll usually go back and buy it or buy it for someone else. I hate money, but it is necessary…so, support writers you like so they can keep writing.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
Teaching was an amazing experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Fiona: Do you have a website/blog if so what is it?
My blogs, books, stories, and music are all accessible through http://www.jdmader.com.