• Q&A With WriteByNight Coach Jules Vasquez

     

    Jules Vasquez’s first novel, Plague City, won the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel from the Journal of Experimental Fiction (2019). Their chapbooks include Fallout, Saints and Dirty Pictures (little m press, 2009) and Yet Wave (the Lune, 2017). They also coauthored No Titles in the Bounds (2022); The Smoke Bar (2022); and Waiting for Samuel Beckett (2022) with Leslie D. Soule. They’ve been published widely, but don’t like to name drop or brag. They were head editor at micropublication HockSpitSlurp (on hiatus). They enjoy noise/drone music, cheap takeout, B-rated gangster/scifi flicks, and long walks off short piers.

     

     

    Where are you from?

    I was born in Sacramento, CA, but have since lived in Boulder, CO, and Great Falls, MT, where I now reside.

     

    Where did you study?

    I attended American River College for my A.A. in Liberal Arts, CSUS for my B.A. in English with a focus on Creative Writing, and Naropa University for my MFA in Writing & Poetics.

     

    How did you get your start as a writer?

    I don’t really have space for all the details of this one, but I had a very intense panic attack the day after Hunter Thompson committed suicide. The thought persisted that I would never get a chance to meet him now. I had already read Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I remember I had been reading Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” over and over that day, as well as reading Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and illustrations by Dave McKean. Long story short, the panic peaked out and I decided I had to start writing. It felt like it wasn’t a choice. It was a low key spiritual experience.

     

    Who are some of your influences?

    Too many to mention, but William S. Burroughs is the very first name that always comes to mind.

     

    What is your favorite thing about educating writers at WBN?

    That so many are willing to learn and take the time to write a book. I’m a relatively slow writer, something I have been told I have to combat constantly. If you told me to write 5,000 words in a day, even if I know exactly what I’m doing and don’t have to “meander” in the creative process, that’s very unlikely to happen. It’s often during slowdowns or meanders in the fiction where I find out what I want to do the most. I like when writers can slow down and take time with their craft.

     

    What is the hardest part of writing for you?

    At times, choosing what project to do next. I’m the type that does better if I have one focus and several lesser focuses, and sometimes I just have too many to start with to pick a main one. And then I must make myself just start somewhere on something.

     

    What is your strangest writing experience?

    I’m not sure I’d ever describe writing as strange. Writing is mostly hard work and rarely a flow of genius (though I’ve had that happen before, writing a single story in one night, for example, as if in a trance, but I don’t think such states of mind are strange, they are natural). I will say that seeing one of my “not safe for work” stories get picked up for publishing this year was something I’d never have expected.

     

    What is your favorite word and why?

    I have too many, but one I’ve become fond of recently is caliginous. It really is just a fancy word for fiery, but the look and sound of it reminds me of a certain insane Roman emperor.

     

    Word association: Literature.

    Being 20 or so, fussing over the word and the seemingly looming arch of its importance, sitting seat in a window in a coffee shop in Sacramento crossing out line after line as they came out of my head, leaving almost five hours later, and then later trying to salvage through what I’d crossed out. In other words: it’s not a bad word, but I wish it didn’t produce such anxiety in younger writers.

     

    What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?

    Things Have Gotten Worse Since Last We Spoke by Eric LaRocca. I just finished it. I don’t really recommend you read it if you don’t have a very strong stomach for body horror. I for one adored it, though.

     

    What’s the last movie you saw that was based on a book and how was it?

    I can’t even begin talking about how much I adored Dune, I could probably write a full review on it.

     

    Where do you see the world of writing and publishing heading?

    It’s been surprisingly good to me this year. I really don’t love trends (the only exception is that I love writing flash and micro fiction, and I co-wrote with a friend for NaNoWriMo last year). Writing happens between the writer, the page on their bowser/notebook, a writing partner if they are involved, and whatever else is involved is mysterious to us.

     

    Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

    You have to start somewhere. Every creative mind starts somewhere, and usually the first major project shows the potential but not the polish (this isn’t universally true). See Stanley Kubrick’s first film Fear and Desire and you’ll absolutely see what I mean. It’s also true that great first projects aren’t immediately well received. I hate to drag out one of the biggest names in the business, but Stephen King really struggled to get Carrie published only to have it be a bestseller. You have to wonder how the ones who rejected him regretted it afterwards. My point is, if he’d given up trying to publish it, where would he be now?

     

    Interested in working with Jules? Request a free consult now




    Find WBN on Twitter