Born in Fullerton, California in 1975, Jonathan Faia spent the majority of his early adolescence in the arms of public library, reading the works that would inspire and shape his life. Growing up in what modern culture refers to as, “Generation X” he spent his formative years in the 1990s attending college majoring in English Literature and honing his love for writing. Combining his “Gen X“ adolescence with his utter infatuation for “Beat Poetry” he authored the books, Wylde Serenity and Love Letters From Barstow. Both books have received starred reviews from literary critics and industry publications. He also passes time writing freelance articles and performing interviews for several online publications. In his free time, he can be found walking the aisles of local independent booksellers.
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What was your life like growing up?
My name is Jonathan Faia and I’m a writer from Southern California. I am the author of the books Wylde Serenity and Love Letters From Barstow. I grew up in Fullerton, California, and was introduced to the public library and I fell in love. I would beg my parents to take me as a child and when they wouldn’t I would ride my bike just to be surrounded by books. There was nothing like the feeling of being engulfed in books and everything the library had to offer at that time.
Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work, what do you do / did you do?
I remember back around 10 years old, I bought a composition book and decided I was going to write my autobiography. Little did I know, at 10 there wasn’t a lot to write about. Since then, I held a few different jobs. I was a package courier, when I wrote my first book, Wylde Serenity. From there I went into healthcare, but I always came back to writing. It’s funny when I was young, I pictured myself spending days locked in a tiny apartment constantly writing, but life sometimes takes a detour. Lucky for me I found a way back.
Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.
Love Letters From Barstow is a collection of poems that allows us all to relive love, and loss all while we examine our own limitations.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m concentrating on marketing for my latest book, Love Letters From Barstow. It’s a short book of poetry focusing on love and loss with sort of a Bukowski feel to it. That includes participating in as many open mic nights as possible, holding book signings and trying to make a connection with readers. I’m also a contributor for several websites. Next up is collecting ideas for a follow up book.
Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it?
I never really had a writing routine. I’ve spent a lifetime writing on anything I could get my hands on when something hits me. My mind isn’t always organized enough to keep track of my thoughts, so you’ll find sentences mixed and matched on anything from napkins, to envelopes, and anything else available. It is hard to organize though. Going into my second book I realized that my spontaneous invention approach was going to need some help. So, I made an effort to really sit down and be more organized by dedicating time to writing during certain hours of the day. Having some tea and preparing to get in a creative headspace.
Where do you write – always in the same space, or different places? Can you write ‘on the move’?
I have been writing on the move for what seems like a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, I have a dedicated workspace at home, but there is something about letting ideas hit you in the moment and scribbling them down on paper. I talk to so many other writers who do the same thing with their phones, but for me, I have to put ideas down on paper. I keep a notebook with me always.
What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?
A- My best piece of advice is to understand yourself not just as a writer collecting ideas or telling a story, but personally. This is a wonderful experience being able to tell a story or share what moves you, but there is also the potential for rejection. Know that by entering a creative space you need to be open to criticism both constructive and otherwise. It’s so difficult to create something and be so proud of it, knowing that it won’t be for everyone. The best piece of advice I ever got about writing came from a librarian I met when I was younger and that was to be a great writer you have to first become a reader.
Do you enjoy doing live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in between?
I am scared to death of live readings. It’s funny in school or in my past work life. giving presentations or talking in front of large groups never phased me. However, there is just something about baring your soul at a live reading that terrifies me. My thoughts begin to race, my heart starts beating out of my chest and I constantly worry about will the audience “get it”. Then you realize, it’s over and that it really is a safe space filled with likeminded people.
Are there recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?
I write a lot about love, loss and limitations. Often, it’s those limitations that dictate your intersection with both love and loss. I think it really emanates from a place of anxiety and a feeling that I need to be better. I tend to relive mistakes in my mind when I should be reliving successes. I think because of that though I’m able to capture hope in my writing.
Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?
I do believe there should be some moral purpose in truth when writing. An honest depiction of the world you’re trying to portray or the feelings behind it. The market is so saturated with content now, it’s easy to get lost in a push to create content for content’s sake. I firmly believe it’s a writer’s purpose to connect with people and show people they are not alone. We feel the same things, we share dreams, and when we connect with readers, we show people they aren’t alone.
Do you write between genres or not?
I have had a mixed history with writing. I have had stints as a content creator for different websites, I’ve done interviews with celebrities & other artists, and I’ve created poetry. I have to say the poetry and interviews have been my favourite because it allows into someone’s mind and soul.
Which living writers do you most admire?
There are a couple that really inspire me. I love reading poetry from Larry Beckett who is a poet here in Southern California, who has deep ties to the artistic revolution of the late 1960s and 70s who recently released a collection of poems 47 years in the making. Another I absolutely love is a U.K. writer named Blake Auden. The words in his book, Murmuration can just rip your heart out.
Which dead writers do you most admire?
There are so many it’s hard to name just a few. Kerouac changed my life like so many others. Hermann Hesse’s work in Siddhartha made me want to be a better person and Kurt Vonnegut was an amazing storyteller.
What’s the book you wish you’d written?
It’s hard to pick just one, but it would have to be, On The Road. It just changed everything about my life and how I was going to take on the world.
What other external influences do you have: nature/place, music etc?
Music is a big influence on me in the way it can so easily manipulate a mood. Listening to music while writing can sometimes really dictate the tone or direction of my writing.
Do you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it if so?
When I suffer from writer’s block it feels terrible. I try everything from listening to music to a long walk. I do find myself getting inspired when I’m around other creative types. I’ll go to coffee shops, or just walk a bookstore and the atmosphere alone can get my creativity back on track.
What’s been your favourite reaction to your writing?
I love it when someone comes up to me or reaches out to me online and says that I captured their feelings, or that they related to my writing. It reminds me that I’m not just writing for myself. There is just something about connecting with someone on an emotional level that sets other recognition apart.
How do your family and friends feel about your writing?
It’s hard to say. I think my writing surprised a lot of people because I started professionally so late. I’ve had a lot of support from friends and family, but I still feel some of them don’t get it. I still hear people say, “I didn’t know” or “I had no idea”. So, I think my work shocks some of them.
Do you have a favourite bookshop?
I love used bookshops. There is something about a book that has been worn out by someone else and if you’re lucky you can pick one up with notes on the inside where something really touched someone. There is a place called The Last Bookstore here in L.A. that is Instagram famous for its artistic displays and workspaces for artists. They have a huge used collection that changes daily.
How do you see the future of writing? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?
The future of writing is really expanding, I think. We see content creators doing everything from using social media to share their work, Amazon publishing and then there is the traditional route. I think Amazon will only continue to grow with their online publishing services. It allows a new avenue for aspiring writers to get their work out and with people becoming more reliant on technology the need for traditionally printed books is slipping. I have met writers who exclusively create projects through Amazon publishing and make a living off digital downloads. So, the business is changing, but for me I still need a printed book in my hands.