J.W. Nicklaus resides in a place not entirely fit for human habitation about five months of the year. No pets to speak of, only the apparitions from which all romantics suffer.

An Arizona native, he’s been from one coast to the other, and a few places in between. College brought an AA in Journalism with a minor in Photography, and a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications. His work experience has run the gamut from Creative Director for a small advertising firm in Tucson to a litigation support bureau in Phoenix (and assuredly some awkward stuff in the mix).
 
He enjoys the occasional Arizona Diamondbacks game with his son, as well as watching him grow up. The experience of being a single dad has taught him far more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Thank you for this interview, J.W.  Your book is a collection of short stories.  Why did you decide to go that route instead of choosing one story and creating a full-length novel out of it?

I’ve been noodling with a full-length novel on the side for years, but it seems I always get the most catharsis from writing a short story. Invariably I encounter some little thing here or there that evokes an idea, if only the vaguest of one, and I feel far more compelled to build a shorter story around it than try to figure out how to make it fit within the construct of my longer story . . .and then, what if it doesn’t fit? If I truly feel the idea has strong merit or workability it seems a shame to toss it, so I’ll work on the shorter story so I don’t let a good idea wither away.

Writing the short stories was an easy rationalization for me as I had accrued far more short stories than pages in my novel-in-progress. Additionally, once I really looked at their content and underlying themes they all felt like they belonged to the same jigsaw puzzle, so it seemed natural to put them together.

How many stories are in your collection and can you tell us which one is your favorite and why?

There are fifteen total, but picking a favorite is no easy task. Does an astrologer have a favorite star, a chef a favorite food item? You bet they do, but I’m sure they would have an equally hard time choosing their singular favorite given their affinity for their professions.

I have something of a soft spot for Requiem For Linny, mostly because it was such a completely different experience trying to fit into the skin of the main character, Buck. To write about the concept of loss and bring some measure of genuine humanity to a male character that’s supposed to—according to unwritten social mores—be a rock for those around him, which was quite a challenge. In some respects I suppose it exposes more of me personally, so that fact alone makes it difficult to not hold it with some emotional esteem.

 How did you come up with such a colorful title for your book?

It wasn’t too awfully difficult, actually. Once I finally saw the common thread between them all, I asked myself “What do these stories represent as a collective?” There are a couple light-hearted stories, a couple darker tales, but all of them, in one way or another, tend to convene around the central theme of Hope—that one ember we all keep inside us that would require a very cold heart to extinguish. So you wind up with The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between.

There is a street lamp on the cover.  Does that symbolize anything in particular? 

It’s a small bit of iconography from one of the stories: Streetlamp. Many, many years ago I was quite influenced by a short story Ernest Hemingway wrote titled A Clean, Well Lighted Place. I have always had a certain ‘thing’ for the play of light and dark, and I took that as the premise for Streetlamp. The light from the lamp is somewhat symbolic of our emotional core, that is, we all have a place in our hearts where those things we love most are showcased, most easily exposed. Take the smallest of incremental steps towards the edge of the light and we face uncertainty, even question our own feelings or reactions. We step in and out of it our whole lives, yet always yearn for it.

Was there any particular story in your book that was the hardest to write?

It sure wasn’t In The Name Of Love—that one flowed like a ribbon of silk as I sat and wrote it by hand. Conversely, Emissary was something completely removed from its initial genesis, and as I worked through it I found I had to learn a bit about lighthouses and boating, all while trying to remain well within the bounds of plausible reality. You’ll often see other writers say that the story led them as they wrote, and not the other way around. That maxim holds very true for Emissary.

Did you identify personally with any of your characters and can you tell us why?

Truthfully, in some way, small or great, I identified with all the characters. Sure, some have my imprint upon them more than others. I’ve assuredly walked in Paul’s shoes (from Streetlamp), and felt the sour distress of seeing a child in need (Jake from Winter Rose), and harbored the same mental wanderings as Dakota Straub in Broken. In my opinion, any writer who says they don’t relate at all to at least some part of their characters is lying through their keyboard!

Thank you so much for this interview, J.W.  Do you have any final words?

I know for certain there will be people who will love certain stories and not others. It’s the visceral reaction that some people have to a story that I enjoy the most. To have somebody write, or tell me, “I loved that story! It made me feel . . .”—that is why I enjoy writing. I certainly get some satisfaction from the act of creation, but to make a positive impact on someone, if only for a few minutes, is well worth all the work. I hope to hear from many people, from all over the country, in such a manner. 

Thank you very much for your time. This was a lot of fun!

You can visit J.W. online at www.avomnia.com to find out more about this talented author and his exciting new book, The Light, The Dark & Ember Between.

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