7 Questions With Author Jonathan Peters
Jonathan Peters grew up in southeast Houston near the swamps. He fled to Austin, Texas upon turning eighteen and wondered about Texas for a decade before settling in San Marcos, Texas and getting his BFA Studio (Drawing). He was then accepted into the University of New Mexico and received his MFA Studio in December of 2016. His visual thesis examined historical Texas slavery narratives and how they influenced contemporary Texas culture.
He found the politics of graduate school to be immensely unsatisfying, however, and switched out of Fine Art and into a creative writing career in 2017. He began his first book, Far Away Girls, in April of 2017 and finished it in the summer of 2019. Far Away Girls is the story of three sex workers on the trail of a serial killer in southeast Texas who they believe kidnapped their friend. It is a tale of revenge and empowerment. And loss.
His short stories center on horror, cyberpunk and crime. John occasionally writes about poverty and fatherhood. He is driven by the need to find new creative outlets and to find a new way to use his voice.
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How does a day in your author life look?
It looks like most adult artists: I get up with the kids and get them off to school. I have anywhere from one to five income streams. Some days I get to come home and work.
Some days I go to an office. And some days I just go to the gym (and, yes, that’s one of my income streams). And then I write. At home. At a coffee shop. With other writers. On my porch. At night. In the morning. Rinse. Repeat. Time is a flat circle.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Meets The Walking Dead with a hard-boiled noir slant. That’s all I will say as I’m still plotting it! While the premise is pure fantasy, the tone is that of The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
I deal with harsh worlds and harsh people and existential dread.
Authors vs. Social Media. How do you approach the tools you have at your disposal?
I am cautious with social media. My fundamental belief is that social media is a plague upon our species and we’d be better off without it. I see so many writers/artists spend time trying to gain “followers” yet ignore the people who actually buy their books/art.
It’s like rats tapping a button that feeds their addiction and ignoring the button right next to them that gives them food. I’m unapologetic about my distaste for social media. I wish it would end. In fact, maybe I’ll write a book about social media’s destruction. That would certainly be filed under Fantasy!
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
The same advice I give students that I tutor and teach who are thinking of entering academics in the arts (I have an MFA Studio and an BFA Studio-Drawing): You can be an artist without going to school for it. What you’ll get from academics will be a work ethic and an ability to critically analyze your artwork.
What you won’t get from academics is a job. Nobody cares about your liberal arts degrees. It’s important in this current economic climate that people understand that. If you go college for an MFA, whether it be in creative writing or fine art, you need to prepare yourself for a career outside of that field. It’s an unfortunate reality that many of us learned the hard way.
A Master of Fine Arts carries zero weight in this world. It’s sad that we emphasize education in this country but don’t actually care about education. Go be an artist on your own terms. It’s a bad time to be in academics for artists (it’s never been a really good time to be an academic artist, but it certainly not good right now). I say this repeatedly to twenty-somethings looking to become artists.
And they almost never believe me. I end up just wishing them well and telling them that, if they choose to go down this road, they better be ready. Because those of us that do this for a living are crazy. There’s something wrong with us.
How do you manage to juggle life and writing?
I don’t know. And I wouldn’t listen to anyone that pretends to have an answer to this. Sometimes I can’t juggle both. I’m a single father with two young children.
If someone out there has a map from point A to point Z that shows how to manage life and art, please share it. I always say this and, strangely, nobody has yet to produce such a map! Strange, isn’t it?!
What’s the best advice/feedback on writing you’ve ever received?
That it’s my voice. I get to choose what it sounds like. Also, learn to take criticism on the chin. One thing academics taught me well is how to have a tough skin. People that criticize your work, if they are critiquing it for the right reasons, can be invaluable.
Learn to critique your own work. Learn how to edit. Learn how to use your critical thinking skills. For me, these skills were sharpened by academics. It’s one of the reasons I do hold value in my degrees (even as the job market does not).
What are the 5 immediate tasks you hope to accomplish in the near future?
I’m currently plotting my second book and I want to finish this by the end of November 2019. I want an agent within the next year. I want to publish on three new websites before May 2020. I want to finish a nonfiction short about a serial crime in my neighborhood. I want to self-publish a book of shorts within the next year.
Find Jonathan Peters here:
Website Twitter @JonPeters1976
Are you in the Writing Industry?
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