Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with jp Rodriguez

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Ten Questions with jp Rodriguez

Open Book talks to jp Rodriguez about reading, writing and his book, The Space Between (Darkstar Fiction).

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your latest book.

jp Rodriguez:

In The Space Between, the unnamed narrator decided long ago that human misery results from seeking the extreme heights of happiness – and then falling from them. Avoiding life’s lows by shunning its highs, he was reasonably contented – until he met Kira on a trip to New York and fell in love. But he managed to tear himself away, hoping he’d be content just knowing she exists. He isn’t, and now an act of senseless violence has awakened him to the suffering in the world. He’s filled with regret over the happiness he’s denied himself and the good he hasn’t done – it’s time to do something about this self-absorbed world where he sees too few people with the integrity to accept responsibility for their actions. He leaves his life behind and sets off on a journey in search of direction. The problem is, his heart knows what to do to make his life livable again, but if he obeys, his mind will say he no longer deserves to live. Either way, it’s time for action.

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

jpR:

Basically anyone who now and then ponders the meaning of life and how we humans might better ourselves – in other words, everybody.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

jpR:

A hotel room with a desk in front of a window looking out on a large city in which I do not live. No one knows I’m there and there’s a guitar nearby. The sun’s just rising and there are no clouds in the sky.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

jpR:

"File 2," a short story published in Mendacity Review, 09/06.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

jpR:

I hate to bring up politics, but…
The coalition government fiasco: I can’t believe how many sane people bought the argument that such a thing was "illegal," essentially some kind of sleight of hand. The subjectivity of ‘truth’ – and its manipulation – influences all my writing.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

jpR:

The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart
Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

jpR:

Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima. For the second time.

OBT:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

jpR:

Ninety-nine times out of 100 your story should be shorter than it is. (But keep your eye out for that one in 100; sometimes adding one sentence can make all the difference.)

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

jpR:

Keep sending and sending and sending and sending and.… Have your work constantly circulating out there – the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace and life is only so long. And never think about publishing while you’re actually writing.

OBT:

What is your next project?

jpR:

I’m currently editing my third novel, Seen Through, which involves a woman with an uncanny ability to “read” people and a musician burying her demons while struggling with her band’s success. These two women meet and can do nothing but put their lives on hold while they attempt to understand one another – and maybe even themselves.


jp Rodriguez grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He studied in Thunder Bay, Vancouver and Toronto, taking more courses than he suspects anyone ever has en route to a teaching degree. Following his studies, he spent seven years abroad, and those experiences greatly influenced him and his work. jp began writing fiction in Japan, while teaching English to students who ranged in age from three to 88. After five years living in Tokyo and traveling extensively, he and his wife moved to London, England, for two years. Eventually they returned to Thunder Bay and jp began to rethink a teaching career and decided to focus on social work. He now works in that field.

jp is passionate about social justice and global politics and these interests inform his writing. He has written and published many short stories. The Space Between is his first novel. Although writing is what he loves most, he also enjoys painting, making music, photography, cycling and skiing.

For more information about The Space Between please visit the Darkstar Fiction website.


Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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