Jody A. Forrester, a writer and former chiropractor, received a MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars (2010), and BA from Antioch LA (2008), in literature and creative writing. Her stories received an honorable mention in the 2009 Anderbo/Open City Competition, and featured in the 6th Annual Emerging Voices Group Show (2010) at the New Short Fiction series in Los Angeles. Jody’s work has also been published in Prime Number, Claudius Speaks, the Furious Gazelle, the Citron Review, Straylight, Two Hawks Quarterly, the WriteRoom, and the Missouri Review blog. Jody has just completed a memoir, Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, published by Odyssey Books (yes, my favourite publisher!) this year.
Jody is that rare thing, a native Angeleno – for the benefit of non-US readers, that means a born and bred resident of Los Angeles. Jody was raised mostly in Hollywood during the fifties and sixties. She lives with her husband, musician John Schneider, in Venice just six blocks from the Pacific Ocean. They have two adult daughters, a son-in-law, and a mini-Australian shepherd dog named Charley.
Welcome, Jody, thank you for chatting with me today. You’ve had quite a writing career on top of your day job. Do you have a go-to routine for writing? Where do you write?
These two questions are intertwine so I’m answering both. I have a desk where I write in my older daughter’s childhood bedroom. Typically I wake and have a light breakfast, and go upstairs to my office with a strong cup of black tea. Before I sign off for the day, I try to leave my pages in such a way that I know where I’m going to begin the next time I sit down. Otherwise, I start typing randomly, hoping there will be threads to pull out to begin something anew.
That sounds like you go with the flow, but in a structured kind of way. Can you tell me about the time you decided you are a writer?
After twenty-five years in practice as a chiropractor, a wrist injury forced me into early retirement. Terrified of the days and years ahead without something to occupy me, I recalled that I’d always wanted to write. Three days after I sold my practice, I enrolled in the Baccalaureate program in writing and literature at Antioch College (LA), but the realization that I was a writer came several years later when my short stories began to be published.
Publication definitely helps with self-identification as a writer, I agree. How much research is involved in your writing?
My intent is verisimilitude, even for my fiction. As such, I research a lot, visiting websites of locations that may figure in the work, checking historical events that could be relevant, even looking up recipes and clothing in the era I’m writing in.
For my nonfiction essays and memoir, my research goes even deeper to assure myself that the facts are as I remember.
Yes, because memory is a fickle informant. Research is essential, and even then, I find that sometimes something slips through. How do you get feedback about your story, before it’s published?
I have a small network of writers, close friends, as well as my family, who give me feedback along the line. I depend on their responses to be sure I’m on the right track.
A reliable – and truthful – circle is so important. Can we get your book as an audio book?
My forthcoming memoir, Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, will be released simultaneously as a paperback, e-book, and audiobook.
That’s excellent news. Your book is a memoir – what kind of reader would like your book?
People interested in the sixties and early seventies who either participated in or are curious about the anti-Vietnam War protest movement and the process of political radicalization.
Do you write in more than one genre?
I write creative nonfiction and short fiction.
And very successfully, too. Who helped you most when you were starting out?
I was fortunate to have several excellent teachers who served as mentors, both at Antioch and the Bennington Writing Seminars. They helped me identify the stories that needed to be written, and nurtured the earliest seeds.
I’m quite a fan of writing courses. Good to hear that yours was so great! Thanks for speaking with me today, Jody, and all the best for the success of Guns Under the Bed.