Interview with J.L. Shenstone

What are you working on next?
At the moment I am working on a novel in collaboration with my best friend and co-writer Daisy C. Lythe. We have a website that we are working on also ( which will include all our other endeavours.

I am also getting a collection of my poetry ready for self-publication. This is something I haven't done before so I am learning a lot along the way.

I'm editing a few short scripts I have written and preparing them for competitions, etc. My partner is a producer so we plan to produce one of my short scripts next year. I'm also involved in the NYC Midnight Screenplay challenge (@nycmidnight) which means in a week or two I have to write a short screenplay in 48 hours.

And finally, I'm producing a short film I wrote with Daisy. I'm working with an amazing team of people and I get to see my words come to life, which is always a great honour.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This is interesting because I just learned this myself. I discovered that I have spent about twelve years writing poetry and out of the hundreds of poems I have sifted though I am willing to show about 10% of them to the world. This was a humbling experience.

So basically this collection is going to be the last ten or so years of my life with the boring stuff cut out.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes! Well, the first was about a zombie apocalypse (I was way ahead of the times) and the second was a complete ripoff of Scream. It was called Hide and Go Stab. It even had a sequel.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work at the post office, watch films and television shows (drool over title sequences), walk my dog and just recently discovered Playstation again.
What helped shape you as a writer?
I think what shaped me the most was not knowing how to communicate my thoughts without writing them down. After that it was music. I began writing lyrics and then poems and then short stories. There are moments along the way that encourage you; like the first time I read Henry Miller. That was an experience. It keeps you on the path. You change and grow but the direction stays the same.
Describe your desk
Right now there is my laptop that I am writing on, a diary to my right, a pen, two books, a water bottle, post-its, two framed pictures of Dicken's characters, a quill (no shit, it was a gift from my mum), a white board with an old to-do list that I still need to-do, a baseball, a pencil case filled with pens, my phone to my left, another calendar, a copy of the short script I am producing and finally (and though this is technically not ON my desk) the wall in front of me is covered in characters I am currently writing and living with.
What is your writing process?
It depends on what I am writing. Also, it's a bit generous to say I have a process. Basically I come up with an idea and run with it. Usually it involves dialogue, other times it's just a sentence. Lately though it's characters popping into my head and beginning conversations with each other.

After that I just start writing. Whether it's a poem, a story or a script I write it as quickly as I can and then I start to get to know who or what I am writing about.

I find I have to get started as soon as it comes to me or I lose it.
Who are your favorite authors?
Henry Miller
Richard Yates
Hunter S Thompson
Raymond Carver
Samuel Beckett
Truman Capote
Raymond Chandler
The Beat Generation (yep, all of them!)
Amy Hempel
Amy Bloom
Knut Hamsun
Bret Easton Ellis
Paul Auster
How do you approach cover design?
Well, for my own cover design I had a basic idea that I gave my partner Jess and she ran with it and is turning it into something I am completely in awe of. I feel so lucky to see something that is beautiful in its own right being placed alongside my writing.

When I look at other cover designs I've realised that I really like modern designs, sleek, basic and nice on the eye with a simple colour. Or maybe even no colour, just black and white.
What do you read for pleasure?
At the moment I'm reading a lot about how-to articles and books. Like how to self-publish! So there isn't a lot of 'fun reading' lately. But I do really enjoy reading scripts and plays. I am a sucker for dialogue. I don't need the setting, just give me 'Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf' anytime of the day. In saying that though, someone like Sylvia Plath and the 'The bell jar' just totally knocked me on my arse. I couldn't imagine how anyone could write anything more beautiful than that.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
At the moment it's my laptop and I think I may be killing my eyes. Every night I go to bed and I'm squinting from how much I've been reading on my laptop. So, I'd really like to get myself a Kindle. I'm about ten years behind everyone when it comes to technology and it wasn't that long ago that I refused to acknowledge e-books but here I am. So I don't know if there is some other great way to e-read apart from the Kindle - maybe I will have to do some research.
Published 2014-11-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Words from a Second-hand Heart
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 10,040. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Lesbian
Words from a second-hand heart is a collection of poems and short stories by J.L. Shenstone. For anyone who has ever loved. For anyone who has ever wanted to be an artist. For anyone who has reached and missed for a heart, a sentence, the right words, the right time. This is for you.