Today, I'd like to welcome J.J. White, author of “Deviant Acts” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
J.J. White has had articles and stories published in several anthologies and magazines including, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review, Bacopa Review, and The Grey Sparrow Journal. His story, “The Adventure of the Nine Hole League,” was published in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Volume 13, and his story, “Lucky Bastard Club,” was published in the 2016 Saturday Evening Post anthology. His novels, Prodigious Savant, and Deviant Acts, were published by Black Opal Books in 2014 and 2015, respectively. His next novel, Nisei, comes out in June of this year. He was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his short piece Tour Bus. He lives in Merritt Island, Florida with his understanding wife and editor, Pamela.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
I suppose that would depend on which law I would have to break. There are many laws here in Florida that would be morally difficult for any law-abiding citizen to break, regardless of the circumstances. For instance, it is illegal to eat cottage cheese on Sunday after 6 PM. It is also illegal to roll a wheelbarrow in the street. And, it is illegal in my great state to sell ice cream in a cemetery. (All true.) I’m not sure I could break those laws with a clear conscience. Pondering the question with great pondering, though, I would not run a red light, but I would shoot someone to save a loved one. Why? Because with our gun laws, the penalty and fine for shooting someone pales in comparison with that of speeding through a red light.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Ah, I have often asked myself that question after 14 Jell-O shots and half a bottle of Tequila. Seriously, though, we’re obviously talking semantics here. The question implies that “being alive’ is merely existing and “truly living” is living life to the extreme, taking it to the limits, living la vida loca, and any other clichés I’m not supposed to use in my writing. Okay, I’ll give it a shot. Being Alive is a lonely quest for things. Truly Living, in my opinion, is: (1) Waking every morning. (2) Having at least four people who care about you. (3) Leaving something behind for the world to remember you by besides an epitaph.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
Hunger. A nagging wife. (Let me clarify that last gem. I write everything in longhand and since I can’t type, my wife types everything for me, so she knows exactly how much output there is at any moment and reminds me subtlety to get my ass to work.) But the biggest motivation is the feeling I get when those endorphins kick in about two or three pages into the chapter or short story I’m writing. Writing to me is kind of like a 1974 Chrysler. It spits and struggles to get moving until the higher gears take over and then it’s smooth running. (I may need to work on my extended metaphors.)
No.4 Why do humans want children?
Well, if there is ever an apocalypse, they will be a nutritious, sustainable, and renewable source of food. You’ve read, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, right? Okay, even I think that one’s over the line. Scaling back, there is a genetic and instinctive urge for all creatures to reproduce. In the higher mammals, like humans, there is not only that urge but also a yearning to further your bloodline. That, and because kids are just so damn cute.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book, Deviant Acts ?
I had very few challenges while writing this book. I loved writing it. I enjoyed the plot, the action scenes, the sex scenes, and the over-the-edge crazy characters who kept me interested while I was writing. The chapters seemed to flow easily into one another and it was the first book I didn’t have writer’s block half-way through. If there was a challenge, it was making the setting, events, and dialogue of the 1970s, credible. I had to do a tremendous amount of research, considering the book is only 254 pages.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
Do not—eat the yellow snow. No, that wasn’t it, though it’s important to remember. I learned that all successful artists, writers, composers, entrepreneurs, etcetera, did not achieve that success in their lives with talent or luck. They achieved it with elbow grease.
No.7 How did you come up with the title Deviant Acts ?
I heard the words on NPR years ago and kept them in the back of my mind in case I ever wrote something that might have a few deviant acts in it. Lo and behold, I write a book that includes a Vietnamese village massacre, several bloody shoot outs, and a relationship between cousins. So—there you go.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
I track the critics down and beat them to within an inch of their lives. And if that’s not possible, I try to listen to what they are saying and use that criticism to improve my writing. I have never learned anything of the writing craft from someone who praises my work. I learned only from those who criticized my writing, explained why they thought it didn’t work, and then gave me advice on how to fix it.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
Because I will track them down and beat them to within an inch of their lives if they don’t. Also, the book won the Royal Palm Literary Writing Competition, was a finalist in the Crime Writers Debut Dagger Award, was an honorable mention for the Sabal Award, and was blurbed by the noted author, Sterling Watson, who is Dennis LeHane and Michael Koryta’s mentor and first draft editor. And, according to reviewers and readers who are not relatives or friends, the book is a fast-paced crime thriller that will draw you in and keep your interest all the way to the end. Plus, the paperback version can be purchased for less than what you would pay for a large popcorn at the movie theatre.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Because I said so! Stop asking so many questions. You sound like my kids. Okay, if we’re going to get existential here, then when your individual spirit goes through the inner veil and beyond thinking, you get liberated from the three states in order to reach enlightenment and then—bam, you get something from nothing.
Thank you J.J. :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out “Deviant Acts” on
Jackson Hurst lives his nightmares with his eyes open. Only the heroin he’s been addicted to since Vietnam keeps the horror at bay. A poster child for losers, Jackson’s addiction has cost him his job, his girlfriend—and unless there’s a change soon—his life. That change comes in the form of the wicked Aunt Camille, a Vermont millionaire who desperately needs Jackson’s services to retrieve her twenty-year-old daughter, Cheryl, from kidnappers. Camille wants her back at any cost and she wants the kidnappers, who maimed her only daughter, murdered. Jackson could use the money—no, he desperately needs the money—but can he stay clean long enough to get her back? And more importantly, can he kill again despite the demons that haunt him from the war?