Monday, March 20, 2023

Q&A with J.A. Tyler



J.A. Tyler is the author of the new novel Only and Ever This. He also has written the book The Zoo, a Going, and his work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Denver Quarterly. He lives in Colorado.  


Q: What inspired you to write Only and Ever This?


A: The earliest inspirations were two-fold: First, the ‘80s kid-centered adventure of The Goonies. I love that film, and its rainy, grainy look was a big visual spark for me. Secondly, I wanted to see what would happen if I put a bunch of old-school monsters (mummies, vampires, ghosts, pirates) into one novel, into one family.  


Q: The writer Jac Jemc said of the book, “This is a novel of bodies and families, ghosts and doubles, failures of presence and absence.” What do you think of that description? 


A: Jemc is such a savvy, smart writer, and I was so lucky to have those words describing my novel. And of course, Jemc is right on the money - every character has a kind of emotional double in the book, and each failure to either show up or disappear creates another rift in the family.  


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way? 


A: I knew who would survive and who wouldn’t, but other than that I had only a vague notion of the full ending. For me, the work is discovered as I go, and trying to force a plot or narrative arc on a character or scene has only ever amounted to a feeling of disease or mire. I prefer to let a hazy finish turn sharp suddenly and almost unaware.  


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you? 


A: The title is a line from the novel, and while I don’t want to spoil its context for readers, I can say that the significance comes from the cyclical nature of our lives, the repetition of both daily life and the parallels we end up creating across generations. Only and Ever This represents that accidental single-track, the one we fight against but ultimately cannot avoid.  


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: I’m refining final edits on a magical realism Western, which takes the hero’s journey, cuts it in half, and starts at the ending. I’ve also recently completed the first in a planned YA trilogy about an ancient machine that gives people the power to embody and morph into their animal muses.  


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: I’m beyond grateful to everyone at Dzanc Books for giving this novel life (and shelf space). Check out their catalog for works that are constantly pushing boundaries, opening up new territory, and slinging beautiful words. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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