It is a new beginning in 2015 and I have a new novel that launched this week, Secrets of Sandhill Island. I have also become involved with a new group of Authors through Oghma Creative Media. Over the next year, in keeping with new beginnings, I would like to introduce you to a few of them. The initial one is J.B. Hogan and he agreed to do a short interview with me today. J.B. has several books out and is planning more in the future. I met him last fall at a book signing where we traded books and I got a chance to read his writing for the first time.
PC: First of all, Jerry, tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from, and what have you been doing with your life?
JBH: I am a native of Fayetteville, Arkansas where I have come back to live after being gone around 40 years. I graduated from high school in southern California, played one year of junior college baseball and then went into the Air Force for 4 years, spending 2 years in Japan and around 5 months in Korea during the Pueblo Crisis of 1968. I went back to college after the service and with one break in schooling finally received my Ph.D. in English from Arizona State in 1979. After a short, aborted academic career, I spent the next 25 years working as technical writer in Tucson, Arizona and Boulder, Colorado. I came back to Fayetteville in 2004 to work exclusively on my writing.
PC: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
JBH: When I’m not writing, I am almost always doing local history research, which ends up with more writing. I am currently the president of the Washington County (AR) Historical Society and am on the Fayetteville Historic District Commission, of which I was recently the chair. I also play bass in a family band called East of Zion which plays bluegrass-flavored Americana music.
PC: Your latest book is Living Behind Time. What is it about and what gave you the idea to write it?
JBH: Living Behind Time is a pre-9/11 story of a 40-something man, Frank Mason, who quits his job in San Diego, California and goes on a road trip of self and national rediscovery that crosses the width of the nation with stops in many locations like Tucson, Boulder, central Missouri, Biloxi, Mississippi and other places before reaching the east coast at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Living Behind Time might be seen as a coming of middle age story as Frank Mason relearns who he and what the country is on his long jaunt from west to east. The idea is an outgrowth of my observation that many people seem to get stuck at different places in their lives – at the end of high school, after college, and so forth – and that we are always behind time in understanding ourselves and the land in which we live.
PC: What is your favorite piece you’ve ever written and did it get published?
JBH: I have published over 100 stories and 150 poems, so I actually have a lot of favorites among my published work. To choose one story: I’ve always liked “Papi,” which was published in the now defunct journal Square Table back in 2004. I like “Papi” because the characters in it are based on people I knew and liked very much when I was living in Puerto Rico many years ago. My favorite poem might be “Thomas Wolfe Saw James Joyce,” it was published in the Dead Mule in 2010.
PC: What would you call your writing style?
JBH: I describe my writing style as unrelentingly realistic. Even in my time travel stories, once the magic of time shifting occurs, the stories adhere to a strict realism. I try to ground all of my work in a real and recognizable geographical reality.
PC: Unrelentingly realistic, I like that! How did you find a publisher for your latest book and who is the publisher?
JBH: My publisher is Oghma Creative Design and they actually found me. Casey Cowan, their super personable president, and I visited several times to discuss me signing with Oghma and because of the rapport between us, I did just that.
PC: You and I have discussed reading the classics, especially Hemmingway. What is your all-time favorite novel?
JBH: My all-time favorite novel is The Brothers Karamazov by Feodor Dostoevski. Number 2 on the list is 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and number 3 is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoi. I’m a huge fan of the 19th century Russian novelists. I consider them to be the greatest writers of all time.
PC: What’s next on your agenda?
JBH: Next up for me is a book we are tentatively calling Two. It contains two stories in one volume: the western novella Last Rider, which I like to call my existential western; and the short novel Mexican Skies, which is a kind of literary thriller set during the excitement of a Mexican presidential election. After that my book of selected poems The Rubicon is on the Oghma schedule.
Jerry is always writing and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Check out his books and as always write a review if you love a book.
Excellent interview. I can’t wait to read more of JB’s work.
He is a very interesting man – and great writer!