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Interview with novelist and short fiction writer Jim Meirose

Our guest today is Jim Meirose from Central NJ. He is a professional Novelist and Short Fiction writer. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Permafrost, Blueline, Ohio Edit, Bartleby Snopes, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. We have conducted an interview with him.


How do you feel having had your work published in so many magazines and journals, including Permafrost, Blueline, Ohio Edit, Bartleby Snopes, the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, Xavier Review, and many more?
Each acceptance validates my belief that I am going in the right direction, and that the quality and polish of the work (regardless of style) is there at the necessary level.

Having had so many short works accepted by these very selective magazines, encourages me in thinking there is something unique in my work, that is fresh, that is mine, and mine alone. Never have I been told by an editor “We have too many of that same kind of story here, we don’t need one more”. I have never tried to research “What’s selling?” or tried to write in any popular or trendy genre that would make publication easier. Never in my life have I tried to be in any way trendy. Quite frankly I often have no idea what kind of idea will be coming next. It all rises from some deep dark hidden well way down inside. Yet, my work is steadily accepted month over month and year over year. So I must be doing something “right”. Plus there is a thrill in knowing that so many people have read what I have written. Stepping back and thinking about that makes it worth it to continue.

Describe your past and ongoing work as a professional Novelist and Short Fiction writer?
I wrote a tiny bit as a boy, but never again until around 1978, when I began work on a “novel” that I never finished. I have always had the ability to throw my perception “out of phase” and enter some kind of odd state, during which I see the world from an entirely different angle. This is where I see the things that must be written about. I wrote nothing else between 1978 and 1988, during which time I had experiences that made me know I should be writing fiction in some kind of serious way. My first published short story came out in 1990. I pumped out so many stories so fast and submitted them to so many different places, I must have been rejected tens of thousands of times, if not more. In the mid 90s I wrote a novel, which like most people’s first novels, was really no good, and after that I don’t know how many more novels, all of which were also pretty lousy, plus continuing with the short stories. All this decade, and between 2000 and 2010, I kept up with this. Absolutely everything was submitted widely. In 2003 I had my first book-length story collection published, but the publisher was really very amateurish, the book looked like crap, and I sold nothing; plus they went out of business very quickly. In the 2000s when I went full-time, I was able to devote more time to understanding my writing process and at last had a very good novel, “Monkey”, accepted for publication by an Indie Press toward the end of the decade. Another soon followed, but this Indie Publisher had no funds for promotion so again, practically nothing sold, and again, the publisher went belly-up after a couple of years. But I kept working and pushing and learning, and finally began to produce better novels, and at last had “Mount Everest” and “Eli the Rat” published by Montag Press. Working through those books with the extremely talented editor at Montag (Charlie Franco), made me improve some more to the point where I developed more and more toward the style of writing which I do today. I have exercised the mental writing muscle enough, and got rid of enough bad habits, that everything now comes out quite effortlessly, and I’m told is very good at the same time, which is the place every writer wants to be. Plus, my work is starting to actually sell! What a concept.

What kind of awards have you been nominated for?
The Shirley Jackson Award, several Pushcart Prize nominations, and a Best of the net 2011 nomination. Almost got into O’Henry Prize Stories one year, but that was a while back.

Which are the two collections of your short work that have been published?
The first was “Breakfast, Meat, and other Stories” in 2003, by a publisher who is now belly up, and who I prefer not to name, because they did a terrible job. The book is completely out of print now, and the single copy I got placed in my local library was there for about 10 years, until, I presume, it was thrown away or somebody stole it.

The other was “Crossing the Trestle”, a collection of 3 stories and one essay, published by Burning River Press (Editor: Chris Bowen) who did a great job and produced a high quality book, on top of being one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. I think Burning River is out of business now, and I am not quite sure where you can buy a copy, but I think if you search the net you will probably find some copies being offered somewhere.

What is the message in your novel, "Mount Everest"?
I don’t usually try to express any particular “message” while plotting out, developing, and writing a book, so this is a tough one to answer. I think Everest is the kind of book that every person who reads it will take away a personal “message” that is meaningful to them. To me, looking back at it now, it’s a story of a struggle for day to day survival by people unfortunate enough to suffer from the memories of horrible pasts and who spend each day on the edge, dealing with the mental issues that their early suffering burdened them with. The Mother is a widow and a compulsive hoarder, the daughter is a prostitute suffering with several severe mental disorders, where she deals with a constant barrage of delusions and fantasies that continually get in the way. I suppose the message to me is that there are people out there for whom daily life is a terrible struggle, and they are all around us quietly suffering. Drive down any residential street, and the houses go by, looking so calm; but within some of which desperate and terrifying lives are being lived, out of sight of everyone. They are all around.

Who do you want to reach out to?
Anyone who enjoys reading, likes it to take them on a pretty good ride, and who has a penchant for stories with both too-normal and too-odd characters, settings, and situations. Plus a comfortable and accepting approach to enjoying a flowing and freewheeling style of prose.

How special was the process of crafting "Eli the Rat", and developing the key characters in this novel?
I actually worked in a Pharmaceutical warehouse through the 1970s. I know very intimately what jobs like that are like and what kind of people are typically be found working in such places. I was on the line with all the others doing the same exact thing all day every day for years, and I know how those kinds of jobs bring out the worst in the nicest people. Utter and complete boredom, no chance for advancement, near-poverty wages and “quiet desperation” at this, the bottom blue-collar rung of the “corporate ladder” that most people never even think about. Every character and every set of tasks are modeled after what I lived through for over ten years. So character development was pretty easy. It’s coming up with an interesting story that people will care about enough to keep turning the pages that is the challenge when writing about that kind of environment. Again, I was able to throw my perception “out of phase” and enter the right state to view and write about that environment, the way I described earlier in this interview, and ideas came up about what intrigues might be going on “behind the scenes” in such an essentially boring, depressing place. A lot is going on everywhere that people never even imagine. You need to be able to tap into that stream. And leaving them wondering what has just really happened in the end, in a well-done way, which I think Eli does, is magically satisfying in a way.

How do you feel being a professional Novelist with over 300 of your short stories been published since 1988?
The numbers are big. And behind those 300, there are hundreds more that never made the grade, and were rejected enough times for me to know those stories probably were really no good, and should be put aside, permanently “retired”. Looking back I am surprised that I have produced so much work. Only a maniac could have done it, is the thought that strikes me; and I don’t feel like a maniac. So who knows? Bottom line, it feels good, and may there be 300 more before the end finally comes.

What are your next goals?
I plan to continue to produce work, focusing on novels, and dig deeper and deeper inside to see what’s there and needs to be put down in writing to live on and on after I am gone. There is always a rundown on what is new with me at my website, www.jimmeirose.com.

Interview with novelist and short fiction writer Jim Meirose Reviewed by My Blogger Profile on 6:03:00 PM Rating: 5
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