By Pamme Boutselis
A novelist and short fiction writer living in Los Angeles, Jennifer Caloyeras is the author of two young adult novels, “Strays” and “Urban Falcon.” Her short stories have been published in Monday Night Literacy, Wilde Magazine, Storm Cellar and Booth. She is a dog columnist for the Los Feliz Ledger and the Larchmont Ledger.
Have you always written?
Yes and no. Growing up, I wrote stories all the time. But my father and sister are both writers (my dad wrote comedy for television and movies and my sister is also a novelist), so I wanted to steer clear of that territory. I spent a long time as a songwriter before going back to stories in my mid-twenties.
What’s your process in developing your storyline and characters?
It seems like each project is different. I used to write off the cuff and
now I am much more deliberate about outlining and character development.
That’s not to say that the plot won’t completely change directions a few
times, but I like to give myself a little roadmap of where I think I’m
going. And there’s always at least a year of revisions. At least.
What challenges do you face in your writing, and how do you
My number one challenge is time. It seems silly, but what a writer really
needs most is time to write. I have two boys, ages 6 and 9, and they sure
keep me busy! I write in short spurts now – two-hour stints – but I’m much
more efficient with my time than I used to be.
What has the road to publication been like for you?
For this project it was a long road, but I feel as though my book ended up right where it needed to be. Ashland Creek Press is the perfect home for my novel. The book itself took about a year to write and an additional year to revise. It was maybe another year before I found the right publisher. Add another year of revisions and here we are, four years later! It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort goes in to writing a novel.
How do you market your work?
There are so many opportunities these days for book marketing. I am actively involved in social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. I have reached out to many teen and dog bloggers, who are reviewing my book or conducting interviews and giveaways. I book gigs reading and signing at bookstores. I attend writing conferences and festivals. I hope to teach some
workshops at local libraries over the coming year. I do school visits where
I get to share the writing and publication process with aspiring young
writers. There seem to be an infinite number of ways to promote these days!
Who are the writers that have inspired you most, and how have they
I have been and always will be a huge fan of short fiction in particular. My
favorites are Lorrie Moore and George Saunders. These are two writers that
have the perfect blend of humor and tragedy. Joni Mitchell has this great
quote in one of her songs, “laughing and crying, you know they’re the same
release.” I love this balance in writing as well.
I just finished A.M. Homes’s “May We Be Forgiven.” She is well-known for her short
fiction, but managed to keep this precarious balance between humor and tragedy
for 480 pages. It was masterful. I feature the work of short story writer, Angela
Carter in “Strays.” She wrote “The Bloody Chamber” in the 70s and it’s this
amazing feminist rewriting of popular fairy tales that had, up until that
time, been controlled by men. I think any writing that shows me what is
possible as a writer piques my interest.
If you keep just three books in your library, which would you
choose and why?
That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child! Okay, I’ll give you work in
three different genres to spread the love around.
Well, I’m going to start with James Joyce’s “Dubliners,” because not only is
this a fantastic short fiction collection that also traces the trajectory of
childhood, but it reminds me of a very specific time and place in my life.
My undergraduate thesis at U.C. Santa Cruz was all about connecting
marginalized characters in Joyce’s work to marginalized characters in
Marlene Norbese Phillip’s poetry (she’s a poet from the Caribbean). I ended
up going on a mecca to Dublin to see everything Joycean. It was magical (and
For a novel-length work, I’ll go with “Wuthering Heights.” I’ve read this book
at various stages of my life and I get something new and different out of it
every time – and talk about brilliantly drawn, flawed characters!
Lastly, it wouldn’t be fair not to include a young adult novel. This past
year I read Jandy Nelson’s “I’ll Give you the Sun.” It was such a beautiful
work about family and following your passion. I loved it.