Today we welcome JA Cafesin.
Book ‘Em: Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.
JA Cafesin: I’m a native Californian, originally from L.A., but moved up, in every sense of the word, to the San Francisco area in my early 30’s. In order of importance to me, I’m a mom, a wife, a social advocate, a surrogate parent of our adopted dog (she has few demands, which is why she’s a bit down the priority line), writer, creative director, teacher, builder, dreamer.
Book ‘Em: What influenced your career choice as a writer?
JA Cafesin: Stupidity. Would’ve been much smarter of me to go into software development. Unfortunately, I’m not big into reality. I prefer playing out scenarios that I want to happen, as opposed to the way they are actually happening. Been storytelling for as long as I can remember. Ever read And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, by Dr Seuss? My dad used to call me Marco.
Book ‘Em: What do you think makes a good story?
JA Cafesin: Characters we can relate to, who possess the same frailties we do. Humans are complex beings, our motivations are often complicated, sometimes hidden, even to ourselves; and our actions all too often are more reactions. Good storytellling illuminates our complexity. Everything I write is character-driven, even my fantasy stuff. Rod Serling had it right—the magic is a prop, nothing more, to explore the nature of people.
Book ‘Em: What is your writing process?
JA Cafesin: Michelangelo [purportedly] said that he chipped away at the stone to ‘find’ the sculpture underneath, as if the figure was always there, just hidden. Writing, for me, is like that. The story is happening, someplace. The characters exist, somewhere. I just have to find them, and then tell their stories. The hardest part is following the characters where they lead, instead of me trying to direct the scenes.
I realize it sounds bizarre, as I’m creating the characters, the story, but once I envision a type of person, they dictate how the story plays out. Can you imagine, say, the Dalai Lama becoming a Tea-Party Republican. Not likely. See what I mean?
Book ‘Em: Has dreaded writers block ever even happened to you?
JA Cafesin: Always had a story or five floating in my head. Just watch people, the news, at the office, the gym, and there’s a story there. Ever wonder what the store clerk’s life is like, or the guy on the treadmill next to yours? I do, all the time. My muse threads their story together, I write down the tales it weaves.
Book ‘Em: Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
JA Cafesin: Both. I’m personally experiencing current events! I’m the person in the back of the coffee house watching everyone interact. Sometimes I write down dialog, sometimes I just listen, try and pick up on what is not said but clearly felt through body language. A flick of the hair, a coy smile, a grimace or narrowing of the brows tells a lot about what someone is feeling.
Book ‘Em: Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
JA Cafesin: I drink 10-15 cups of black tea a day, between 8:00a.m. and 2:30p.m. while fine (fiction) writing, then switch to Diet Coke when I get the kids, until 5:00 when I go running. I live on caffeine.
Book ‘Em: What are you working on now?
JA Cafesin: The Power Trip is a 3 book YA/NA dystopian series about 4 Stanford students who implement an online game in which players develop predictive models to manipulate each other to do things. First book in series releases summer 2015.
Book ‘Em: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
JA Cafesin: I’m a recluse by nature. Like watching people, but not so much interacting. I say all the wrong things. Have a tendency to ask way too personal questions, so to avoid contention I don’t hang out much. I work mostly, write, build something. Meals and weekends I hang with my family, my pack. If I’m ever lucky enough to be read by millions, as I write to be read, it won’t touch the spectacular exchange of love I share daily with my husband and kids.
Book ‘Em: Who are some of your favorite authors?
JA Cafesin: Rod Serling, John Fowles, Ursula LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (No joke. Read Crime and Punishment, simply one of the best modern novels ever written!), and I could go on forever here, but…I won’t.
Book ‘Em: Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
JA Cafesin: Hanging with my DH and kids (and even my bratty, [but cute] dog)!