John Paul Jaramillo, author of The House Of Order, grew up in Southern Colorado but now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He earned his MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Oregon State University and, currently, holds the position of Associate Professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Department of Lincoln Land Community College.
Thanks for doing this interview. Let’s begin: What is the most overrated virtue?
The most overrated virtue in terms of reading and writing has to be the so-called ‘classics’ of the literary canon.
What is the one thing other people always seem to get wrong about you?
I think folks believe writing comes easy for writers and professor types. I think writer-types struggle from inarticulateness more so than others.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
I would try to foster more of a love for reading and the written word than the kind of entertainment and pop culture literacy we have now.
What pet peeve do you have about other people?
Salinger wrote that people are always ruining everything. Sounds about right.
Is there any occasion when it’s OK to lie?
If the storm troopers are at the door and looking for Anne Frank I think that would be the best time.
Do you have a philosophy of writing?
I don’t think there is a formula or a recipe. I took seven years with this book. You have to sit down and do the work—tireless revision draft after draft. You have to allow yourself to type and meander and find the book.
What’s the name and genre of you book and who is the audience?
The name of the book is The House of Order and I guess the book is literary fiction. The stories are composite and resemble short stories. They stand on their own but also create an arc. Perhaps failed short stories and a failed novel. Some folks have referred to it as Latino Lit—though I don’t know if I like that title. I would hope Latino and southwest readers. Folks from Colorado and New Mexico. I also like to think I’m writing to represent Colorado and certain neighborhoods.
Is this book part of a series? If so is it a sequel or a prequel?
This is a beginning to what I call Manito stories. I have many more Manito stories and hope to develop that into some sort of a sequel or novel.
Describe your protagonist and describe the challenges the protagonist needs to overcome and the motivation for overcoming them.
Relles ‘Manito’ Ortiz is the hero. We follow him from around twelve years old to just after college, all in great leaps and fragments of time. His enemies are mostly his poor luck inside of a dysfunctional family. I like to think we see him as victim but also we see him as bystander and perpetrator. I can say that he’s working hard to control his life.
Describe your antagonist and talk about motivation.
The antagonist would have to be Ernesto ‘Neto’ Ortiz. He talks a good game of being a working man and a religious man who knows himself. He mostly is not up to the challenge in setting an example to his nephew. Drugs and alcohol also seem to control the man more than anything.
Quote a passage from your book that you love.
Southern Colorado’s Huérfano County infects the area, hangs metaphorically over the Ortiz family as isolation and abandonment. Neto explains to Manito that where they live, “deserted” means many things:
It means losing a ride out to the lanes for work in the onion fields. Quitting school to work and contribute to the mortgage. Ignitions that won’t fire and friends who won’t come around. . . .Fathers who die.
Sounds interesting. Elaborate on the meaning of the passage.
Huerfano means orphan and so I believe that the idea of father searching runs through the book. Manito bounces from father figure to father figure as he tries to find some sort of self-direction in his life.
What surprising things did you learn while writing this book?
I’ve heard quotes that say writing is rewriting and re-envisioning. And I have to say that was my biggest lesson. This began as a failed novel and as a failed collection of stories. It took some time to find the strongest work from my writing and the strongest order of them all.
How has your upbringing influenced you writing?
I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado. A small steel mill town to the south of Denver and Colorado Springs. I spent some time in New Mexico and traveling around the San Luis Valley as well. The people and the feel of the land are always home and influence the work in powerful ways. Hard to understand though how it influences me. I also am stuck in focusing on things from my past through the eyes of a younger self.
Where do you live and how does that influence your writing?
I live and write in Springfield, Illinois. I work in a college and writing and reading is always around me. As an outcast from Colorado I feel like I can dream and envision the places for my youth more sharply.
Do you prefer fermented or distilled?
Not much of a drinker these days. I have more control of my life than I have in the past and so that plays out in the creation of the writing but also the completion. Which is something new.
If you have a outside career and how does it fit into your life as a writer?
My weblog is set up keeping writing and teaching separate even though they are so closely linked. I like to tell my students that I am a better writer than teacher but I have to admit teaching intro to literature or teaching intro to creative writing is an active investigation of story.
Do you have a special routine you go through before you begin writing?
It is very difficult to schedule time to be creative. Like planning on being spontaneous. My best ritual is just trying to sit and look at my own work as much as possible.
thehouseoforder.com Price: $15.00
That’s the interview. Thanks for listening. Here’s a review done
by Isaac Morris.
The family Ortiz puts the “fun” in dysfunctional. The men are frequently abusive, the women, though mostly compliant, carry on with inner strength to provide some semblance of “order” to The House of Disorder which this life really is. The children–like the most frequent (although not the only) narrator, Manito–are getting further away from the old ways (at one point, the Abuelita–”grandma”–complains, “Goddamn kids don’t know their own language!”). Violence bubbles away beneath the surface of their lives, to burst open at any time. The setting of their lives is forlorn, the most popular color of their vehicles primer, the foundation of their lives burnished with rust.
Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes:
Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The House of Order? Well, there are two ways to enter…
- Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official House of Order tour page.
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I’ve posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the official House of Order tour page–either way works just as well.
About the author: John Paul Jaramillo grew up in Southern Colorado but now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He earned his MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Oregon State University and, currently, holds the position of Associate Professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Department of Lincoln Land Community College. Connect with John Paul on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.
Get The House of Order on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.