Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Jay Chirino, author of The Flawed Ones, for an author Interview.
About the author:
Jay is an author, mental health advocate and recovering addict, who spent over ten years battling his demons. Today he focuses on sharing his story and the story of others like him in order to create awareness and help eradicate the stigma that has always surrounded mental illness. He lives in Tampa, FL with Ana, his cat.
Hello, Jay. Thank you for being here today.
Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?
I want my stories not only to entertain, but also to inspire and to give awareness, to make the reader think and see things from an angle that maybe they hadn’t seen from before; to give a poetic light to some of the negative things in the world and explain them in a way that make them neither good or bad, just real. In essence, I want to squeeze the reader’s heart and make them feel alive.
Which writers inspire you?
I am not a huge fan of horror fiction, but when I read Stephen King’s “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft”, I understood the hype that eternally surrounds him. The man is a flawless story teller and he knows the craft very well. I think George RR Martin is another one of those writers that excels in creating masterpieces, not only for his talent at creating incredible worlds, but also for being able to put you in the center of those worlds with his impeccable prose. I have also been reading Tom Perrota lately, his writing style captivates me as it’s smooth and fluid; you go from chapter to chapter without even realizing that he is taking you on an unexpected journey. As far as the classics, Hemingway has always been on the top of my list.
Tell us about your book?
The Flawed Ones is an immersion into the world of mental illness in a way that I don’t think has ever been done before. I didn’t want it to be a memoir, there are already enough of those out there. I wanted to shed light not only on my personal struggles, but on the struggles of different people with different levels of mental deficiencies and their everyday lives. What happens when you put them all together in one place? How do they portray their own humanity? I wanted the story to be almost poetic; sometimes bitter, sometimes cruel, sometimes funny, sometimes scary and other times inspiring. I want the reader to feel with the characters, to laugh, to cry and to understand maybe what they haven’t understood before. I want them to think about these characters when they are finished with the book, to wonder and worry about them, almost as if they were family.
How long did it take you to write it?
From the time I put the first word on the paper to the time I finished the last correction it was about one-and-a-half years.
Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?
Right now I am solely working on getting the word out there about The Flawed Ones as much as I can, but in the background and I am toying with the idea of a prequel for this novel if it all goes well.
Why have you chosen this genre?
It’s deeply personal to me. I have lived and breathed mental illness since I was a child, and I couldn’t find another topic that moved me this much, in order to write an honest and provocative first novel.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I never really decided, it has always been a part of me. My mom had one of those old typewriters when I was young, and I really enjoyed writing stories on it, as it made the loud CLACK CLACK CLACK of the letters being printed on the page. When I was sad, writing always helped, when I fell in love, poetry was always there, there has been no me without writing; it’s not a choice I made, it’s as natural to me as taking showers or drinking water. Nothing brings me more peace.
Why do you write?
I write because it frees the chains of my mind and allows me to travel, to fly to unexplored territories, to islands of thought, were imagination is queen and her beauty sublime, where routine doesn’t enslave me, where I can make sense of my world by tearing it apart and looking inside, where love doesn’t hurt and hope doesn’t fade… where time slows down just enough to touch, to feel, to dance with, intricate motions in collaboration that lead me to realizations and allow me to dream, to smile, to live. I write because it brings me peace.
Where do your ideas come from?
The beautiful struggle that is life. I like making poetry out of the mundane things that we might not even be aware of; the everyday routines that we are tied to, the automatic processes that we perform without even realizing. Then, you see it written on paper in a way that even the most insignificant moment demands your attention, and you have no choice but to pay it.
How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?
To get the ideas out of my head I need a pen and a white sheet of paper. Once the basics are down I transplant them over to the word processor on the computer and I polish it several times.
What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?
Authors: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, George RR Martin, Tom Perrota. Books: The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and The Sea, The Leftovers, Game of Thrones Vol 1.
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I step away from the desk and think about anything but writing. I go out and explore, and put myself in situations that make me think- maybe sitting at a coffee shop people watching or going for a walk in the park. Once you let your thoughts roam free, the ideas will begin to flow.
What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?
To read as much as they can, and to be honest when they write, not holding back, finding the true story deep inside them, and not in what they think others will like.
Thank you, Jay, for all your amazing and insightful answers!
About The Book:
After leaving behind a trail of drug-addled destruction, Jay finds himself confined to the walls of a psychiatric hospital. He is now compelled to confront his actions, his issues, and the past that led him to such downhill spiral. But what surprisingly affects him most are the people that he becomes surrounded by; people with considerable deficiencies that will shed some light on the things that truly matter in life.
“The Flawed Ones” is a thorough examination of the struggles of mental illness, depression, addiction, and the effects they have on the human condition. Most importantly, it proves that physical and mental shortcomings do not necessarily define who we truly are inside- that the heart is, in fact, untouched by our “flaws”, and that love will always prevail above all.
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