Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I live in Southern California—have since I was five—and was brought up in a weird mix of precarious affluence, surf culture, and the performing arts (my stepfather was a Paramount actor; my mom was in the ballet). I was the bad boy in my family and went for blues guitar, weed, and beat poetry. I moved out of my parents’ Brentwood home to Venice when I was sixteen. I wanted to be a journalist but got distracted by the idea of being a musician instead. I financed my wannabe rockstar career by dealing weed, then coke. It all came to a pathetic end when I was thirty-seven.
What inspired you to write?
Reading. I started with the kids’ classics of the time—Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, etc.—and then started reading my dad’s stuff, including a lot of science fiction. I had a particularly tough tenth-grade English teacher. She threw five kids out in the first fifteen minutes of the semester. I would have been sixth, but I decided to try it her way. The A’s and positive comments were very gratifying and I developed confidence in my ability to arrange words on paper.
What inspired your novel?
The first novel I wrote, Trust Me—which was actually published second—was inspired by real events. As a long-time member of the recovery community, I’ve met a lot of interesting personalities. One of them, a genial old chap with a lot of sobriety, was a doctor—a shrink of some type—who would mentor attractive young women who were new to recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. His mentorship would cross a line into seduction. He was in his late sixties, so it was grossly inappropriate. I took his character and developed it for the book, along with several other lead characters—it’s more of an ensemble piece—based on people I had known.
What is the genre?
I would call it Psychological Suspense. My other book, Down Solo, is a Noir thriller with a supernatural edge, very different in style and tone.
What draws you to this genre?
I’m drawn to the dramatic elements of crime stories—the soul sickness of perpetrators, the struggles of flawed protagonists, and the fascinating possibilities of the world of addiction and recovery.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
In each book, I had an easy first ten pages, enough to know that I had something worth working with. After that, I used a hybrid approach—half seat-of-the-pants and half timelining and storyboarding. I wrote an article on this that called Storyboarding for Depth and Clarity.
What inspired your protagonist?
In Trust Me, the protagonist has a lot in common with my own experience. He’s a loser, bottomed out, nowhere to go, who gets motivated when his sister is found dead, an apparent suicide. His mission to find what really happened converges with what turns out to be his redemptive process. In Down Solo, the protagonist and his dilemma came to me out of the blue.
What inspired your antagonist?
See above for Trust Me. For Down Solo, my original antagonist was based on a character in real life—he was an evangelical Christian with a website in which he combined biblical prophecy with proclamations about the end of US currency and the ascendance of gold and silver and their respective mining stocks. He’s still part of the novel, but his role as lead antagonist was usurped by someone higher up the food chain.
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
The next page. Okay, just kidding. But not really. I get stuck when I get to what could be a fork in the narrative road—go one way and it could be a dead end. I want it to all spool out in a nice, orderly fashion so I don’t have to go back and do major surgery later.
What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The last page. It means I’m done. Again, kidding, kinda . . . The real answer is that my favorite parts are the ones that come when I’m in the flow. The problem, of course, is that I don’t live in the flow—that would be too easy—so I have to face the keyboard with a head full of wool and dust and then hope that flow develops.
Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
I also do editing and proofreading. I have worked on over thirty novels in the past several years. It’s very satisfying to participate in the polishing of someone else’s craft. I have also written web content for recovery centers, done proofreading for a technical journal, and solved major philosophical and political problems in my spare time.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished Charles Portis’s Gringos. I’m going on a trip to Mexico soon and may embark on Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Kem Nunn, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Michael Gruber, James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, I could go on and on . . .
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Tough one, but much easier than What’s your favorite book? So, I’ll go with these: Iain Pears—An Instance of the Fingerpost; Michael Gruber—Tropic of Night; Vikram Chandra—Sacred Games; and the collective works, respectively, of James Lee Burke, John le Carre, and Elmore Leonard. And a real outlier: Radix, a fabulous piece of science fiction by AA Attanasio. But then, I’m leaving out so much: Farewell, My Lovely; Cloud Atlas; The Power and the Glory; Tijuana Straights . . .
What are your future projects, if any?
I have a father-son novel envisioned. It will take place in the town we transplanted to in 1994—Oceanside, CA. It will involve stolen money, a near-fatal beating leading to a troubled teen in a coma, and an anguished dad who wants his son healthy and his money back. The revenge he seeks may strip him of his humanity.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Through my Contacts page at my website: www.earljavorsky.com.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Sure. Write. Keep writing. Even when you don’t like it. Even—especially—when you’re not inspired. You can cherry-pick the good stuff at editing time. Some of the passages in my novels were cannibalized from earlier works. Expose your writing to other writers. If you’re really new, take a class at your local college. Participate in a writers’ group—do the read-critique thing until you’ve internalized what there is to learn. Read good fiction—it is axiomatic that you cannot write better fiction than you read. You will, hopefully, internalize (again) what good writers have to offer: sentence structure, narrative structure, characterization, setting, and so on. Keep your day job.
Thank you to Earl for participating in this Spotlight Interview. If you’re interested in his books, definitely check them out!