John Jodzio on the Art of the Short Story

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This week I talked to one of my favorite fiction writers, John Jodzio. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Paper Darts and The Tangential (and The Tangential’s fiction compilation, Future Cities), as well as plenty of other lit pubs. His offbeat, hilarious stories feature characters who are twisted yet big-hearted, lots of foreshadowing birds, dogs and snakes and plenty of naughty words! What’s not to like?

I’ve been a fan ever since his book If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home appeared on my desk at the Minnesota Daily. Since then he’s written the beautifully illustrated Get In If You Want to Live, produced by the wonderful minds at Paper Darts, and his latest short story compilation, KnockoutKnockout makes with Jodzio’s non-sequitur sense of humor and newly-coined words like “beardtied,” along with deviant characters that have a lot of heart. If you like George Saunders, Aimee Bender or Miranda July, you’re going to want to pick this book up.

Grab a copy at the release party on March 12th at Honey! (And make sure to subscribe on the iTunes Store and on Sound Cloud!) Get to know John more below.

1. What writers influenced your style the most? How would you describe your style?

The big influences are writers who are able to mix biting humor with soul crushing sadness while still leaving some room for a dollop of hope. People like Aimee Bender, Denis Johnson, Catherine Lacey, George Saunders, Arthur Bradford, Alicia Erian, Rebecca Curtis, etc, etc.

A simple way to summarize my style would probably be that I write funny/weird/sad/poignant stories that sometimes have animals and drugs in them.

2. How do you think of characters? What’s your trick for imagining the lives of people who are very different from you?

It takes a long time for me to really write a story (sometimes years and years) and over that period of time I think I grow fond and invested with whoever is telling the particular story and through this intimacy/knowledge I have a good idea, no matter how different they are than me, of what these characters are angling for/who they are/what they would do or say in any situation.

3. How would you like to see creative writing change and grow in the next ten years or so?

Always and forever hopeful that people will read way more short stories in the near and distant future because I have long thought and will continue to think they are the best thing ever to read.