Saturday, June 13, 2020

James Wade

James Wade is an award-winning fiction author with twenty short stories published in various literary journals and magazines. His debut novel is All Things Left Wild.

Wade spent five years as a journalist, before serving as a legislative director at the Texas State Capitol during the 83rd Legislative Session. He also worked as a lobbyist on behalf of water conservation in Texas.

Wade lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Jordan. He is an active member of the Writers' League of Texas.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I hope it sets a certain tone or vibe. It's easy to make the connection between "wild" and the setting of mountains and desert. Also there's something to be said for the "wildness" of many of the characters, of the hearts of men, etc. But the real inspiration behind the title came from the novel's origin story. I was standing in the desert outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and I was marveling at the untouched look of the landscape. I began to feel guilty for leaving my own footprints in this place. But when I turned back I saw that the wind had blown my footprints away. In that moment I realized this land was not untouched. Of course not. Entire civilizations had risen and fallen away. Native Americans, Spaniards, Ranchers, Oilmen, and plenty of other footprints had been blown away, and each of their stories blown away. What is truly left wild are the stories we'll never hear about the people we'll never know. We all believe our own story to be have some cosmic centering, but it doesn't. We're just stardust.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

I imagine my teenage self would be quite staggered by the novel. I spent my teenage years learning all I could about journalism, inverted pyramids, and effective researching. When I did read fiction it was often classic literature or poetry from the Romantics. A gritty western set against the perils of mortality and morality was not something I could have envisioned at the time.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I have written endless beginnings. The start of a story is perhaps my single favorite part of writing. Infinite possibilities. The project has not yet been muddled by self-doubt, second-guessing, and the anxiousness that inevitably sets in around 50-60,000 words. Because of this, I change the beginning the most often. I want to get it just right. To pick from all of the options the absolute best beginning there can be. But with each page written, the ending becomes more narrow, more realized. Eventually the story is taken to a place where there can be only one ending (much like life). So it becomes then that the ending is the easier section to write. There are not infinite possibilities, there is only one.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I see plenty of myself, good and bad, in my characters. Much of the philosophical conversation between characters is simply mirroring internal dialogues I've had regarding love, purpose, religion, etc. For this novel, I wanted to explore the similarities when it came to the internal struggles faced by folks in the early 1900s, despite the stark differences of time and place. They are, in a way, a world apart; and yet we share so many qualities (positive and negative), that it becomes easy to imagine ourselves dealing with the same problematic ideals about death, about family, and about how we puzzle out the differences between right and wrong.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

My wife and I lived in a small travel trailer for two years, camping off-grid in some of the United States' most arresting landscapes. Being exposed to such geological beauty for such an extended period of time has certainly played a part in the setting of my stories, as well as the lyricism of some of the work. Philosophy has also gripped me in a way that turns other interests toward it. I worked in journalism and then in politics throughout my 20s, and having that experience has helped inform many of my personal philosophies over time. Philosophies which then play out in the narrative of the book. For me, there are far more questions than answers come upon. There's a certain humility in acknowledging that, or even embracing it. I believe quality literature raises questions, and perhaps hints at answers, but doesn't lecture or preach.
Visit James Wade's website.

--Marshal Zeringue