About the book: These realistic short stories feature characters down on their luck, yet stubborn enough to move on. A tryst between a carnival worker and a pretty high school student begs the question of who takes advantage of who. A young man’s encounter with a drug addict finds him striking out on his own in hopes of a better life. An English teacher publishes literature deemed inappropriate by a Mormon community. A mother goes on a quest to get rid of the family’s aggressive pet. Finally, New Orleans provides the backdrop for a stroll with a psychotic housewife. Such is life!
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) is an author, editor, and teacher. She primarily writes contemporary literary fiction and psychological suspense. Such is Life, her short story collection, is now available. Her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, is a ghost story set in the woods of northwest Montana. She blogs about literature and writing on her twisted book blog: What do I know? Please connect with her at JeriWB.com.
Despite growing up in the rough Idaho mining town of Wallace, she earned multiple writing degrees, and became a devoted English teacher who has since left the classroom to pursue writing and editing full time. Food and travel continually inspire her creativity and love of photography. In addition, she dabbles in creative nonfiction, poetry, and educational video tutorials. She currently lives in North Carolina with her wonderful husband and their demanding pets.
Blog JeriWB: What do I know? http://jeriwb.com/
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. My writing is inspired by authors known for writing literary realism, such as Tobias Wolff or Annie Proulx. I’m drawn to capturing life’s underbelly and the sometimes stupid choices people make. I’d rather write a story dark in tone versus a happy ending any day.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A. I suppose it’s quite alluring to know that someone else is taking the time to read what I’ve put my blood, sweat, and tears into creating. The transformative nature of fiction to be able to put a reader in a character’s shoes is quite addictive.
Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?
A. Writing! I am a painfully slow writer because I self-edit too much. I am working on that, and hope to participate in NaNoWrMo for the first time this coming November. Learning how to best market one’s books is also quite overwhelming at times. Like anything else in life, the more attempts an author makes at getting their work out there, the more successful they become at mastering the process.
Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. I often wish that I had gone into video editing or graphic design. Web development is also an area I’m interested in. While I’m in love with words, I suppose I also have a fascination with how visual messages are conveyed.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. If I ever write that memoir, it will definitely be titled When Your Mother is Crazy. Growing up with a bipolar mom has impacted all aspects of my life, for better or worse.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. Just one book? Then I would have to pick John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. The story of the Joad family isn’t just about the breakdown of one family, it’s about the disintegration of American society as a whole after the stock market crashed and the Great Depression set in. The social commentary offered by Steinbeck absolutely floors me and give me something to aspire to!
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. I’m probably most like Janie from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. She only starts to discover who she is later in life, and I guess I feel like I’m always discovering who I am. The person I am is so not the person I was a decade or more ago. And yet, there will always be pieces of my former self in the person I am becoming. What good would life be if we never changed and allowed ourselves to be awoken to the experiences around us?
Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. The English teacher in my short story “Not Terribly Important” reflects, to a degree, the person I was two years ago before I made the decision to leave the classroom. While the controversy revolving around self-publishing “inappropriate” stories was completely made up, but I’d like to think it’s true of what would happen if a teacher in a conservative community (or most communities for that matter) was found to have published stories of a quote unquote questionable nature.
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. For a wild and crazy time I think I would go for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I’m sure I wouldn’t remember much of it after the fact, except that it was worth it!
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. Fall is my favorite season, especially October, and not just because it’s the month I was born in. The light is different, the air is different, the colors are different. October is the last striking display of all that is beautiful in this world before the drabness of winter sets in.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. I’ve made my own book covers thus far. I consider the attempts all a part of learning the ropes of self-publishing. I picked the battered mannequin heads for the cover of my short story collection, Such is Life, because I felt it reflected the nature of the relationships the characters experience throughout the book. It was originally in sepia tone, but I used Adobe Photo Elements to tinge it blue and bring a sadder feel. I do wish I knew how to work with 3D letters, but it’s only list to get better at.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. I’ve only really just started to get serious about contacting book reviews and doing interviews, so I’m afraid I don’t have too much to share on that front. However, I am consistently surprised and delighted by how supportive the indie author and book blogger community is.
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. My work in progress, Lost Girl Road, is a psychological suspense ghost story that takes place in the woods of northwest Montana.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. My short stories will appeal to you if you like realistic fiction which is rich in detail and really explores how people interact, both the good sides and the bad sides. I don’t do sunshine and rainbows. I also blog about bookish things on my twisted book blog What do I know? You can find me at JeriWB.com.