10 Questions: Jerry Rodriguez

Jerry A. Rodriguez has written and directed plays in New York, music videos, short films and he's worked with children and adults affected by HIV/AIDS. Oh, and he's also managed see the the first installment in the gritty, erotic Nicolas Esperanza thriller series, The Devils Mambo, published this April. And just like with his commitment to life in general, Jerry's debut novel doesn't pull any punches.

He took time out from working on his second Esperanza novel to subject himself to my ten questions, and after reading his book, emailing back and forth from when we first signed with Kensington Books so many months ago, I can safely say Jerry is one wonderfully complicated guy and thank goodness for it.
1. Any writing rituals you have to get it going?
Generally, I’ll read authors who I like, or do some research about the subject I’m writing about. Then I start writing thumbnail sketches of characters, scenes, lines of dialogue, etc.
2. What's your cure for writer's block?
Honestly, I don’t really get “writer’s block” per se. Sure, sometimes I’ll get stuck at some point while working on a novel or story. Instead of frustrating myself, I don’t write for a few days, let it stew in my mind.
Sometimes I’ll talk to friends and start bouncing ideas around. After a while my imagination gets to work and the novel starts to flow. I think writer’s block comes when you keep trying to force the story to happen and banging your head against the wall.
3. What do you tell people who ask what you do at cocktail parties and such?
If I’m at a cocktail party, I drink. Not that I get invited to a lot of those. Authors and drinking always seem to go hand in hand. While I was at Bouchercon, the mystery writer’s conference, I made friends with some of my favorite authors by staying out drinking late into wee hours (remember these are crime fiction writers). Made more connections at the bar than at the actual conference.
4. What's the worst part about being a full-time writer?
I’m no a full time writer…yet. And that’s a particular challenge. How do I squeeze the most time out of my week to write? One is giving up my social life. Despite working full time and writing novels and short stories, I’ve never missed a deadline. But I’m often very, very tired. Don’t see my friends much. I’m a bit jealous of people who get to write full time.
5. If you could have written any book, which would it be?
The Fountainhead.
6. What were you doing ten years ago?
I was shooting short films, writing screenplays and directing plays. Never had any intention of becoming an author. Didn’t think I was that good at the fiction thing. Everybody else seems to believe otherwise. So now I’m an author.
7. What do you hope to be doing ten years from now besides writing?
Chillin’. Would love to own a house on the beach in Puerto Rico, sip Piña Coladas and watch sunsets. Trust me, I’ve lived a pretty wild life, so now I’m searching for simple pleasures and relaxation.
8. What's your biggest anxiety about your writing/writing life?
That I won’t be able to come up with a fresh idea for a new novel. I’m working on a series now, and I was terrified that the sequel wouldn’t be nearly as good as the first. Thankfully, my publisher loved it. Now I’m sweating the third one. That’s why I want to do some stand alones. Less pressure. Maybe. Maybe not. An author I know who has written a dozen very successful novels told me in never gets any easier. Starting a new novel is always a very scary experience.
9. If you could have anyone's job/life but your own, whose would it be?
Frank Sinatra, baby. Talk about living a grand life. A non-stop party, The Rat Pack, Vegas, Hollywood, the beautiful dames, all while changing the face of American music and becoming an icon for the ages.
10. What's the biggest misconception about you now that you're a published writer?
That I live a life of pure excitement. That I get to spend all my time attending parties and being witty, when in reality, on Saturday nights alone I’m chugging gallons of café and sitting in my pajamas in front of a computer pounding out pages, talking to imaginary people. Not very sexy.
But I still love it.

Next Wednesday: Lara Rios

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