Jim Cherry has written three books: the semi-autobiographical novel Becoming Angel, a collection of short stories, Stranger Souls and the Doors inspired novel, The Last Stage.
Shelagh: Hi Jim, please tell everyone about yourself.
Jim: I grew up in Chicago in the sixties; I remember and absorbed it all. I remember being born and the kaleidoscope images of childhood. My mother read to me, acting out the characters and put the pictures in my head. I danced on a corner and made it rain, I discovered magic or power, it was child’s play. Art was another early discovery when I saw a bunch of girls crowded around a fellow classmate I looked over to see what was going on, he was drawing Peanuts characters. I read just about everything that came my way; a writer has to live both in his imagination and the world of experience and I think I’ve done both. I lived the first twenty-three years of my life in my imagination. From the earliest years reading about pirates, baseball players, racecar drivers, mythology and after I put the books down the adventures continued in my head and backyard.
If you want to know more about me you can find me in the pages of my books, in between the lines.
Shelagh: When did you first begin writing and what did you write?
Jim: I started writing when I was thirteen. I read about Ernest Hemingway and how a writer can be an artist and I wanted to be an artist but can’t draw. The first thing I ever wrote was a Mad Magazine style satire, complete with traced out drawings from Mad. My mother laughed and I took it wrong; I had intended it to be serious fiction.
Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Jim: The goals I started with in writing don’t seem to be the ones I’m accomplishing. The writing process seems to have taken on a life of its own and the books seem to create themselves as I go along. Yes, there is a message I want readers to grasp but I don’t want to say what that is because I don’t want to impose my bias on the reader. I want readers to be free to find whatever message they do find. I’ve written things where I thought the message was pretty clear but other readers saw other things in the piece and I couldn’t discount it, because I saw that they could be right. I don’t want to bias the reader with my interpretation which may or may not be right.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it the first in a series or stand-alone?
Jim: The Last Stage. I think too many writers take on too much withwriting a series of books. In the past I’ve read some series by some to the best writers and they don’t always stand up. While I admire the imagination and dedication writers take in creating a series, I like all my novels to stand on their own; I don’t want to commit my readers to too much. Or maybe I don’t want to commit myself to too much!
Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?
Jim: The characters develop organically. When I start a story I have an idea of who the people are and what motivates them. But during the writing I usually discover something about the characters I hadn’t known. Most of the stories I write are set in the environment I’m familiar with, suburbs
Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Jim: No. When I start writing I know the beginning and the end of the story, but as I write the middle tends to write itself and I’m usually surprised at how things work out.
Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style and preferred POV?
Jim: I usually write in the first person. I really don’t set out with the POV in mind, I just find that first person is the best for giving the reader the sense of immediacy and participation in the story that I’m looking for.
Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Jim: I was raised in middle to upper class suburbs and still live in them, so that’s where most of my settings occur, it really isn’t anything conscious it’s just as the characters develop that’s their background. And my characters aren’t the type that the more status conscious residents of the suburbs want to see. My characters usually are struggling with the world they find themselves in, they either don’t fit in or are having trouble trying to attain the goals associated with those suburbs and its residents.
Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Jim: I always find the latest review of my books is the best! I try my best to write the best I can and I think I’ve been lucky the books are what I’ve envisioned and get good reviews. True to form here’s the latest:
This book has long intrigued me as a Doors fan, and now that I have read it, I am completely wowed by it. What would it be like to be Jim Morrison performing up on stage? Read this book and find out.
It’s very well written, and includes details about all the little things that Doors fans appreciate. That gives the book a very real, almost non-fiction feeling. I kept saying “yes! yes!” as I read it, because the book totally nails a lot of the emotion that Doors fans have for the band. The characters are vivid, and their dialog snappy. But most of all, the descriptions of the various locations made the book come alive. Like the various bars where the band plays their gigs. And the road trip they go on throughout the midwest. From Chicago to New Orleans, I felt like I was right there as I read it. I got a kick reading about the various girlfriends and “Doors groupies” that they met on the road trip. Some of them were laugh out loud funny, others were sad. But all were fascinating to read about.
The main character has a very complex character, and I was immediately drawn in to trying to figure out what made him tick. Was he just a devoted Morrison fan? Or did he have a self identity problem? Every scene that unfolded had me even more engrossed in trying to figure out what he was trying to accomplish. By the end of the story, this guy was in Los Angeles, getting ready to perform at Whisky a Go Go, carousing with aging rock stars and actors, interviewing agents and screenplay writers, reliving Jim Morrison’s lifestyle, and exploring all his old haunts. I won’t give away the ending, but it is very, very poignant and real.
By Katherine Reinhart
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Jim: I actually have quite a few projects in mind. I currently write articles as The Doors Examiner which are about the rock group The Doors. As far as creative writing, I’m working on a novel, Ghosts, which is about the death of a friend of mine, and the ghosts we carry around with us throughout our lives. I also have another Rock ‘n’ Roll novel up my sleeve titled Ghost Dance (yes, I may be in a ghost period, like Picasso’s blue period!) it’s about an American Indian rock band that hits the big time. It’s a bit of a thriller.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Jim: My website: www.jymsbooks.com
Writing Under the Influence of Rock ‘n’ Roll! http://www.jymsbooks.com