JW Tarin is a Texas-based visual artist, writer and photographer. His work has appeared in The Cynic, The Donner Party, Ganymede Literary Journal. His latest book, The Gloaming, is being released through WesternWhere Media on August 10, 2010. The Gloaming is a collection of short stories and prose whose pages will redefine loneliness, redemption and hope. I recently caught up with JW Tarin over email and you can read our conversation after the jump.
G: Hi JW. Let’s get right into it. When did you start writing?
JW: I began writing around 12 years of age. I was listening to early Concrete Blonde records and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ album. I started writing my own lyrics set to the melodies of their songs. It was probably all crap, but it got the gears churning.
G: Your latest book The Gloaming is being released this month. The word “gloaming” literally means “the time after sunset and before dark.” Was it written in this time period?
JW: Haha, some parts probably were. I don’t really have a ‘process’ for writing. Inspiration can strike at any time. Sometimes I’ll be lying in bed and the perfect line will just pop into my head, and I have to get out of bed & write it down. Or I could be on the freeway and the same will happen, and I’ll have to make a voice note on my cell phone for later. I never try to force my writing, because when I have, it hasn’t worked, at all. I’ve always identified with something Tori Amos once said, about how her songs are like her children, and they come out whenever they’re ready – she’s just the vessel. I have always felt that way.
G: Why did you pick an independent publisher to release the book?
JW: I think it’s a perfect testament to the times we’re living in. There will always be big publishing houses, and big record companies, I think, but look at what has happened to corporate labels – some of the most exciting material – even from very established artists – is being done independently. It’s definitely the way we’re headed. What better time to get on board?
G: When it came time to put this book together, you pulled some old poems and stories from previous works. How long did it take you to compile this edition?
JW: The Gloaming is essentially a “re-imagining” of an older book called The Acrobat. I was very proud of that book when I released it in 2007. But I don’t think the timing was right for it, or for me, I don’t know – but it never really took off. So I dusted it off and switched up a few things, and here you have The Gloaming, which I’m very excited about. In some ways it feels like my first book all over again. I’m getting some good buzz online already
G: Take it from me, all buzz is good buzz! One of your poems “August and Whenever” really resonated with me. It talks of a doomed summer love affair. I could see that being turned into a song. You’ve cited Tori Amos as an influence. Who would you love to see record your words for songs or spoken word performances?
JW: That piece is another one that is special to me. Oh yes, I love Tori. And Stevie Nicks. We don’t have time in this interview to list all my influences, but as far as spoken word goes, I adore William Shatner’s ‘Has Been’ album – brilliant. One of my favorites. The other work he’s done with Ben Folds is equally as genius. Ben’s song “In Love” with Shatner is probably one of my top 5 songs.
G: You don’t hear too many people citing William Shatner as an influence unless they are talking about acting. So, does that make you an automatic Star Trek fan?
JW: Well yes, but I actually prefer a couple of the later television series and movies. I like William Shatner now, the kooky egotistical wiseass. But that’s why I love his recent musical output – when you get past that persona, you see the pain, humor, and heart underneath. I love digging and discovering, getting past the bullshit to the truthy interior.
G: You’ve just described another one of my favorite poems in The Gloaming: “Balancing Man, Act XII.” In times of economic distress, what keeps you optimistic about life?
JW: My art, and love. Pardon the cliche’, but it’s true. If I’m not creating, I feel trapped in a rut. And I’m fortunate to be in love with someone who makes me laugh every single day, and whom I feel safe and complete with, whether we’re high on the hog or down-and-out. I’m very rich in love, and with ideas.
JW: That’s a difficult question. I don’t know if anything can properly describe me, as I’m a creature of perpetual change & adaptation. That said, while some pieces in the book are pure inventions, many of them were me during the period they were written. My blood and bones are inside many of the pages of this book. I often feel like no one could really understand me fully, including myself – but many of my former selves are encapsulated within this book. If I died, and people asked, “Who was he?” a good place to start would be The Gloaming, I suppose.
G: What advice would you give to a first time writer?
JW: Explore all creative avenues. There is inspiration everywhere. In this day and age, anyone can be published, with the internet, self-publishers, etc. Just do it – don’t hesitate any longer.
G: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
JW: The best advice I’ve ever been given as far as writing goes, was by my 10th grade English teacher. I let her read some of my poems, and she said that they were good, but I should try writing free-verse. Totally changed everything for me. I never looked back.
G: So what’s up next after The Gloaming?
JW: I’m finishing a new book of poetry & prose that’s been simmering on the back burner for way too long, and my first non-poetry book project. I can’t say too much just yet, but it’s going to be in the vein of erotic noir fiction – my contribution to the pulp/dime novel genre, with a modern twist – it will be available as an e-book as well as in print. And I’m compiling material for a portfolio book of my art & photography. I also have a longtime-in-the-making book of illustrations & poetry that I’m hoping to collaborate on with a friend in NYC. But then, who knows, I may come up with another project in the next 5 minutes…
The Gloaming is available here, beginning August 10, 2010. Readers can interact with JW Tarin on Facebook or at jwtarin at gmail dot com.