Love, redemption and death in America: An interview with D.S. Jones
D.S. Jones is a seer of visions and reporter of misadventure. Writing prose and poetry, and in all conceivable genres, his range is as endless as the highway he calls home. He has published poems in our own NOIR anthology, as well as Danse Macabre, An Online Literary Journal. His prose has been published in Bare Back Magazine, Shotgun Honey, and is featured in the Told You So Anthology from Pill Hill Press. We caught up with him via email for a few questions about his latest work, the short story Shelter Dogs, which is currently available for free only at Amazon.
Who are your favorite authors and/or influences?
All my influences are rebels, free thinkers, and people that have passion. My biggest influences are probably Neil Young and George Carlin. Those guys never took shit off anybody, and showed us it’s okay to be original, outspoken, and to follow the muse. In writing, I admire Hemingway most, because he was self-taught like me, and because he keeps it straight and simple. I would also have to list Elmore Leonard, David Mamet, and Charles Bukowski as influences.
Do you have a favorite quote about the writing process?
Hemingway said he tried to write as simply and as beautifully as possible. I think that quote sums up my approach. Notice I didn’t use quotation marks.
How does your geographic location influence your writing?
My family is from Harlan, Kentucky, and I was born and raised in Indianapolis. It has influenced me considerably. If you look at the talent that came out of this place, you notice a trend—they are nonconformist. Indiana is a place with both a great tradition and a very oppressive atmosphere, so it instills both a pride and a desire to rebel. Kurt Vonnegut, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and John Hiatt all came out of this state with a vengeance. I try to follow that tradition, and I definitely understand where they were coming from. It’s still very much a place that you love and hate, and for very different reasons.
Everything ends up in print, as far as I’m concerned. In writing, you are trying to know yourself. You are reliving your past constantly in a quest for perfection. Or at least I am.
Pick your poison: what’s your favorite writing fuel?
I am a red wino, if that’s a real term. I may yet get the Johnny Depp tattoo and have “Wino Forever” put on me. It certainly lubricates my machinery. And, of course, just let me say that cannabis is a very useful tool for opening the doors of perception—or so I’ve heard.
Do you have any special writing routines, exercises or superstitions when starting a new project?
Joseph Campbell had a great line somewhere about getting the first draft done as soon as possible and then cleaning it up later. I just try to put it down while I have it. Ideas come and go with the wind, it seems.
What are your hobbies, outside of writing?
I live for travel and reading. I say travel because I like to go on goofy little misadventures when I can afford to; and reading’s where it’s at, baby! I still like the John Waters line about not fucking people who don’t read.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’d like to preface this by saying that I am a slacker who writes. I would still be making music or painting. I would be in the arts, still. To me, life would not be worth living if I couldn’t create. I would go mad-der.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Right now, probably Georgia, because I am madly in love with a woman who lives there. Usually I bitch about moving to California or Oregon or Black Heart’s home of Austin, Texas. I have no idea what I would do in these places, but the dream is nice.
As a self-published author, do you have any advice specifically for self-publishers?
Do it. Don’t hesitate. I will never be a true fan of digital publishing because of the ease at which the thought police can tamper with it, but as far as business, it‘s great. We live in an age where we can blog and tweet and be our own agents. I think the future of entertainment will be all about self-sufficiency. It’s going that way now, and as long as I can do what I love, which is writing, I am for it. So don’t hesitate to put something out if you believe in it. Writing is a crapshoot anyway. Throw it out into the ether and see what happens. Let me say that editors get a bad rap, and even though there a few that I love, like the Roberts sisters [Ed. note: No relation] at Pill Hill Press, they are not gods, none of them. They make mistakes and overlook good stuff just the same as the writer and reader, unfortunately. If you believe in something and there is no market for it with a traditional publisher, for sure, go for it! Write and share it, the worst thing that can happen is you will log into Amazon and have a zero under units sold.
What are you currently working on, or what’s next for you?
I still have stories coming out this year. Five stories will be in two different anthologies from Pill Hill Press, and then a couple online with Shotgun Honey and Yellow Mama, respectively. You can go to my website, thepoetdsjones.com, for more info. I also want to give a shout out to Decades Review. I just took a gig there heading up promotions.
To check out a copy of D.S. Jones’ Shelter Dogs, just click here.