Natasha: Tell me about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Jesse: My name is J.S. Bangs, and I live in the Pacific Northwest with my wife and two kids. Like a lot of people, I've been writing intermittently for approximately forever, but I didn't actually get serious about writing until I was in college. That was when I joined a writing workshop (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com), started figuring how publication works, and actually sent things out. I got lots of rejections. After a few years of this I got discouraged and took a long hiatus from writing, during which time I got married... and then with my wife's encouragement I started writing again. This second attempt at writing professionally turned out much better. I've had a small handful of short stories published, and of course the long novella that's coming out from Lyrical Press that we'll talk about below.
I'm blessed and cursed with a wide variety of interests. I have two boys under the age of 3, so naturally I spend a lot of time with them. I work as a programmer, which is a "day job" that I absolutely love, and I also work on personal programming projects on the side. One of those is http://code.google.com/p/phonix/, a program for modeling certain aspects of phonology, a branch of linguistics. Linguistics is another passion of mine, and I actually got my B.S. in Linguistics before diverting into programming. I also create fictional languages, play video games, and bike. So I stay busy.
Natasha: Your novella, The Taint, was published on November 8th. Can you tell us a little about it?
Jesse: The Taint is the story of Dimitris, a guy who goes to prison for a crime he didn't commit. In prison he meets a powerful voodoo user and an immortal blood-drinker... and also discovers a connection between the supernatural inhabitants of the prison and his own case. You can get a fuller description and an excerpt at the http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3_25&products_id=282"; Lyrical Press book page.
It's a novella, not a full-sized novel, and it clocks it at around 100 pages. It was a lot of fun to write, and everyone who's read it says it's a lot of fun to read.
Natasha: What was your favourite scene to write? What was your least favourite scene?
Jesse: My favorite scene is probably the one in the third chapter, where Dimitris flashes back to the night that his family was killed, supposedly at his hand. It has a great mixture of humor and horror, and I think it really shows off the character of Dimitris and Molly well.
Least favorite... hmmm, let me think. The scenes near the middle of the book where Dimitris begins to piece together the details of what really happened were very difficult to write, though hopefully the reader shouldn't notice! It's very challenging to write those kinds of slow revelations in a way that's consistently interesting, and allows the reader to follow along without getting lost or bored.
Natasha: Do you have other upcoming projects in the works?
Jesse: Oh, plenty. I have a stack of short stories that I need to finish, and notes on another novel. Aside from that, I have a short piece that will be appearing in December at http://eschatologyjournal.org/; Eschatology Journal, and others that should appear in the first quarter of 2011.
Natasha: Any advice for beginning writers that are trying to get published?
Jesse: Wait, so I've already reached the rank of writers who are able to hand out writing advice? Oh, man. I guess my primary counsel would be to find a really good critique group, either online or in person (or both), and listen to them. Your own stories are your babies, and you naturally think they're the most beautiful and charming stories ever set to the page. You need someone else to tell you that they're ugly and misshapen and need their diaper changed.
Natasha: What is the best way for readers to contact you? (website, e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc)