“I love Just Write of Left. A lot. I think you should too.”
Jaco’s writing launches his readers into a beautiful, lyrical, and exotic world of romance. The story he wrote installments of this month, All Memories are Traces of Tears, is a tale of a an American in China wounded by his past and the chance encounter that sparks a new love. While the story is fictitious, the scenes are drawn so that you know the author has an intimate knowledge of the China in which he writes. Jaco’s writing gets better with each post, as evidenced in his latest post, drawing the sadness of parting in a poetic vein. Jaco took a month-long, 30 words a day flash fiction challenge from Blogdramedy’s blog and expanded into an engaging, unusual tale. I’m honored to actually have Jaco here on my blog answering my questions as I try to get an in-depth picture of this man as an author and a person. I’ve decided to conduct this interview in a 20 questions format to give it that down home Spanish Inquisition feel. Jaco need only use this abbreviation to decline answering one of my painstakingly thought out queries: STFU, which for those of you not versed in internet etiquette, means “Stop! Thanks for understanding.” Without further ado , here’s Jacoooooooooo!
1.) Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
The truth? Of course.
2.) Perhaps my 10k eager blog readers would like to know why you are called “Jaco. Just Jaco.” To me it’s far more catchy than “Bond. James Bond” and gives you that aura of mystery a blogger worth his salt craves.
Let me begin by saying it’s pronounced Ja koh. Not Jaco as in wacko. Well, I earned the name Jaco later in my musical career. I was a big fan of Jaco Pastoriusthe greatest bass who ever lived. He performed with Weather Report, and later with his Word of Mouth Orchestra. Jaco was to the bass what Hendrix was to the guitar. His technical prowess was unsurpassed. He was better than Charles Mingus in that his compositional skills approached that of Mingus, and his technique took the bass to another level unheard of in the 80?s. I started playing bass late in my career. Toward the end I was playing bass exclusively, and emulated his playing style. My friends started calling me Jaco and it stuck. So I chose that as a pen name. Jaco. Just Jaco. Jaco and nothing more.
3.) Your blog is called Just Write of Left. How did you come up with that name? Me, I just listened to my inner child skipping through my inner field of transcendental daisies, but I understand if you were inspired by more conventional means.
I was searching for a new name for a blog. I brain stormed a bit and came up with Just Write of Left. Probably not the best name for SEO purposes. But I liked the play on words, and decided to go with it. I shut down Blogging Perspectives Daily, and moved to this new domain. While I was participating in the BlogShorts Challenge I decided I wanted to write short fiction. I thought the name reflected what I was doing.
4.) Please describe for those of my 10k readers who haven’t discovered you yet, what Just Write of Left is about.
Just Write of Left is a place for me to paint pictures with words. I like to create images with writing. That’s the goal. My blog is my personal art gallery in a sense.
5.) What inspired you to start this blog?
I don’t know. I just felt it would be a creative outlet, and I felt it was therapeutic. I needed that. I was recovering from a mean cocaine addiction, and at some point I felt like I wanted to create again. I felt I was well enough to get back to work.
6.) Could you tell us a bit more about your genre and niche?
I wanted to try flash fiction, and write noir. After I complete my ongoing All Memories are Traces of Tears series which was born out of the BlogShorts I contributed, I want to write cyberpunk. I’m a big William Gibson fan.
7.) What inspired the major themes and storylines in your blog?
I’m inspired by the films of Wong Kar Wai. He is a brilliant film maker from Hong Kong. His films are poetry. I love the imagery in his films and wanted to create that kind of imagery in my writing. The story lines are based on my experiences of living in mainland China. Mainly fiction revolving around three central characters. All Memories are Traces of Tears is about promise, yearning, the past, and in some ways about impossible love. Some loves are impossible, but they’re loves just the same. Of course the settings for my stories are mainland China, Kowloon, and Hong Kong.
8.) Do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?
In my day-to-day life? In a sense I guess you could say that. Depends on where I’m spending those days. I find inspiration in human tragedy, the pain of the human condition. I’m inspired by things that really affect me in one way or the other.
9.) Do you wear your heart on your post when you write?
Of course. Every post is very personal. I’ve always been one who not only wears their heart on their sleeve, but wears it like a red jacket.
10.) The Joe in your stories is gentle and benevolent. Is real life Joe like fictionalized Joe? Are there any ways real Joe is different from fictitious Joe?
Not really different. The real life Joe is gentle and caring, but no one is perfect. I have my moments.
11.) Where do you see your blog going in the future? Will there be new stories culled from your fascinating life? Personally, I expect a book deal for myself, get on the New York Times Bestseller list, win a Pulitzer, and sell the movie rights to Lifetime Television for Women. “She Wrote Yes: The OCDbloggergirl Story” starring Meredeth Baxter.
I’m not sure where my blog is heading. I just want to keep writing. There will be new stories. I have some ideas for future stories in mind.
12.) Growing up, did you want to be a writer? Did you fall in love with the written word?
Well, growing up as an only child I had quite an imagination. I was writing song lyrics and poetry from an early age. I just felt writing was an extension of my musical studies. I’ve always been a ferocious reader so the written word was sustenance.
13.) What made you want to start blogging in the first place? I’m blogging for World Peace.
As I said earlier it was a creative outlet. It got me involved, kept my mind occupied. It has helped with my recovery. I haven’t really written about my cocaine addiction, but I think it will surface in my writing at some point.
14.) Who influenced your writing the most and why? For example, I read a lot of cereal boxes during my formative years and it definitely shaped who I am as a writer. Tony the Tiger n’ Tolstoy, know what I mean?
I mentioned Wong Kar Wai. I’ve also been influenced by the short fiction of Liu Yichang. The great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke is another influence, and the work of Charles Bukowski. There are so many. As for the why? It’s because of the images they were able to create.
15.) What are your main influences in life? The people, the events, your spirituality, just anything that you feel comfortable sharing.
Influences in my life? My parents of course. My girlfriend Xiao Hui. My son Zaid. Music and art have always been a major part of my life. Spirituality? The Qur’an and Islam.
16.) What are your other interests besides blogging? Do these interests come into your writing?
Astronomy and Cosmology. I’m quite the amateur astronomer. Other interests? Chinese culture. Languages. I studied Arabic for a couple of years. I learned some Mandarin Chinese, and continue to learn Mandarin as I will be returning to China in the very near future. No, I haven't used my other interests, but at some point I'll write them in.
17.) What do you do with blogging ‘trolls’ and their ilk?
Blogging trolls. That can be a serious problem. There are more than 70 million blogs in existence. So these people with serious pathological problems just get out there and do what they do. Fortunately. I haven’t had a problem with trolls, not lately anyway. I just try to ignore them.
18.) When, where, and how do you write the best?
I’m always writing. 24 hours a day. But for the sake of actually putting it into a word-processor, early in the morning. I’m usually up at 5 am. I need that quiet time before the distractions of the day just become overbearing. I sit at this huge dining room table in front of my MacBook Pro with a cup of coffee, and a cigarette. I have an idea and I start to formulate it, explore it. With All Memories are Traces of Tears I’m always exploring the characters, developing them. Other times I don’t have a direction until I start writing. It changes. I just keep writing until it feels right.
19.) What is the meaning of life?
I’m still trying to figure it out, but I can tell you what gives meaning to my life. And that is helping people. Giving something back. That’s what I learned. You have to always give back. So if I can help someone in whatever capacity then I feel like I’m doing something that matters.
20.) Do you like Girl Scout cookies? I favor mint chocolate.
Well, it’s funny you asked. Yes, I do. However, I was dismayed to learn they’re not actually made out of Girl Scouts.
There you have it, dear readers. Jaco. Just Jaco has just shown us his art and gave us answers to life’s great quandaries. I had always wondered why girl scout cookies were bereft of girl scouts too, but I never knew how to voice my concerns. Be sure to check out Jaco’s excellent fiction blog http://justwriteofleft.com, and if you’re on Twitter I’m sure he’d love to have you on his ship: @jaco223