Today I have a very extra-ordinary author on the blog. We met quite a while ago and fell out, only to discover we both aren’t that bad and so here we are. I got to read his book and he agreed to let me interview him on it, and a few other topics.
Hi Jesse, I’m really glad you agreed on this interview and allowed me to grill you over a slow fire. 🙂
I’d like to start with a few personal questions. Just so the readers can get a bit of a feel as to who you are. If that’s okay with you?
Yes, that’s fine, Lucy.
Great! So, tell me, are you a rooter, or a traveller? I mean, have you always lived in the same town?
I’ve moved around in North America.
Would you ever want to go back to Las Vegas and live there again?
I think about it. I can’t work for the casinos again. That’s over. Do you know the movie, ‘Leaving Las Vegas’? If I went back to live it would be for that, to destroy myself.
What do you prefer, reading, watching a movie, or doing something active?
I used to read two or three books a week but when I got my first computer that fell off. I prefer to watch movies now.
And now what you really came here for. *drumroll*
What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?
My book is called ‘Early Out.’
Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
No, it fell right into place. Every casino dealer knows what an early out is.
Is the way your work is set up, as bursts of memories, each a short story on its own, how you started out or did it change with every draft?
I would remember discrete episodes within the context of my entire trajectory in Vegas and throughout my life. But Vegas was the focus of my first stories. When I first started writing I had a lot of sentence fragments. My stories were shorter; some were very short. As I progressed as a writer my rhythm and cadence improved. The stories got longer and more cohesive; I began to pull more insight out of the episodes, out of these little stories.
And it clearly showes. You have come a long way, Jesse, and I’m glad to see your writing finally gets the recognition it deserves. Now we only need to make people aware of the fact it’s available for them to read.
Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
Jack and meth! Haha, no—I’m kidding. I write fairly fast. I usually know what I want to say. I’m writing from memory and I have a sharp memory. I finish and then I proof the piece. I usually need to proof it several times and yet I still miss typos. I may embellish certain passages. Usually I don’t know if it’s any good until I read it the next day. My style is simple and consistent. There are some few pieces that I really like, where I really nailed it. I’m remembering and writing but I really don’t know where the story will take me sometimes. Those are the best ones, those are my best stories.
If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?
I’m dealing with this now. I don’t want to change my genre even if it will help move the book. I lived this stuff, every bit of it, and it wasn’t easy, for the most part. But I’m not the only one who has an investment in this book. So I have to go along to get along. It could be called True Crime—except that my crimes—it is illegal to use narcotics, I never sold drugs, I never did any time. I really don’t know how the reader would perceive my book when it is sold as fiction. Who could come up with this stuff?! I suppose it could be presented as a fictionalized account of a real life, but why would I do that? Who do I need to protect? It’s not like I’m the paradigm of respectability.
That is exactly what makes your work what it is, raw, real, and in your face. To me it was the thing that made it great. To know that it actually is your life and not some made up load of bollocks by a writer who’s never even seen a crap table.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
I’m pretty lame when it comes to marketing my book. I use Face Book, my website, and the common online entities. I perceive that indie authors and small publishers all have difficulty moving a book. It seems as though authors are spamming other authors. I was in the Kindle top hundred twice, for a minute or two, for three days. I hit #19 at one point. I was on Smashwords top ten for my genre for well over a month. It’s tough, a never ending struggle to get my book out there.
It is, and like you say, especially on The Book of Faces, it is mostly authors telling other authors what new work they’ve got, and we all know authors do not seem to be the most voracious readers (the few who are are also the ones supporting other authors the most.)
Right with that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.
What don’t you like about writing?
I don’t like marketing my book. I want to be James Frey; who read my book coincidently. I want to be Oprah’s book of the month. I want to be discovered. I want to get struck by lightning. I want, I want, I want—but those days are over. It’s a tough, tough, market. Even the Big Six publishers are under the gun.
You display a lot of wisdom here Jesse. It is a tough market and not all authors have a thick enough skin to make it through to the next round. Somehow I think you’ll get there.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
Anything with an alcohol percentage in it. For years I drank vodka. I found it useful to drink and do various other street drugs. One day I decided to switch to whiskey. I fancied myself a cowboy. I haven’t had a drink or a street drug for nine years and seven months now. I’m a vegetarian. I miss meat dearly, I miss the taste of meat, but I felt sorry for the animals, it’s just too brutal; how they are raised and how they are slaughtered.
That is very admirable, to relinquish something you love for the sake of the wellbeing of another animal. Let’s face it, humanity is nothing more than walking talking animals, fighting each other over the right to call themselves the best … (fill in with whatever you want.)
What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?
Pizza? I buy them frozen. I don’t eat too much really and it’s because I can’t cook.
Hahaha, who doesn’t! Or oder them from the take-away, but for you I’ve come up with an easy man pizza.
Easy Man Pizza
as many slices of bread as you like
pizza sauce from a jar (or salsa)
sliced tomatoes, and bell pepper
Toast the bread on one side, then turn over and spread the sauce on the not toasted side. Top with tomato slices and thin strips of bell pepper. Royally sprinkle with grated cheese and bake under the grill.
Top with fresh chopped basil
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
My excuse is that I’m a lazy bum. Seriously, I feel inertia. I always do. Does it matter? Am I important? Do I write to deadline? Who will know, if I don’t write?
And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?
Maybe if there were money in it. Right now I have a long ways to go just to break even. Editors, covers; when I self published, my various websites over the years, notarized contracts and addendums, computers, ink, paper, contests, and time, a lot of time.
Ah, yes time, that one thing we all want more of but it always runs out. Seems to slip away like sand through a sieve. But just remember there is no instant success, and like you’ve mentioned before, suddenly being discovered is something not often happens.
Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
I can breathe through my ears! No. I don’t know, my life is pretty sedate nowadays. My book pretty well—I do spill the beans, but at the same time there is stuff about me that I will never write about. I’ll take it to my grave. People do know secrets about me but some things I will not make public. I’m not obliged.
And right you are, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. 😉
As a business—I don’t like the publishing business and that should be clear by now. Why should you, the reader, purchase my book and read it? If you are intrigued by the dark underside of life, particularly Las Vegas, then my book might be for you. You know what? My style is flat, not overly emotive, not mawkish, not overly dramatic, there is humor all the way through it, irony, because when I came right down to cases the joke was on me.
I must disagree with you, if anything your work might not seem emotive to you, or even flat as you say, but to an outsider looking in it is very alive, vibrating with strong emotions laying under the surface, waiting to grab you by the hairs and put your face right smack in the middle of an ugly truth, of real life and all of it’s sides regular folks never knew existed.
Upon reflection, I perceive that a pattern throughout my life is to take the path of least resistance, which does not often correlate with an easy journey. The experiences I wanted to have, I worked hard for them, I struggled for experiences that I felt would lend me a certain gravitas; experiences that would give me power, personal power.
And that’s the thing which makes you and your work strong as it is. You know yourself and have no fear in admitting your own weakness, and ‘faults’.
Thanks, Jesse, for giving me the chance to ask you all of this and answering with such honesty.
I’d like to give the readers a small peek at the book and ask them to read it. After they’ve done that I would like to ask all readers to let me know, “Would you ever have thought Las Vegas could have such an impact on an individual, and would you come out on the right side if you had to go through the belly of the beast Las Vegas?”
(click the link above to read my review of the book)
This is a blunt, honest, and compelling look at one man’s journey through the twilight glitz that is the casino subculture of Las Vegas. An intense and atmospheric narrative of Vegas, boxing, violence, sex, love, grief, narcotics, the death industry, black humor, arcane jobs and subcultures, and the alchemy of transforming pain into empathy. Mr. Kaellis take’s the worm’s eye view throughout and all this without a hint of self pity. This book affords a glimpse into a world you only thought you knew.
About the author
Jesse was born in the United States and raised in Canada. Jesse drifted through various occupations. Farm worker, mill worker, landscaper, door to door sales, gravedigger, masseur, dice dealer, process server, day labor, phone room, baker, janitor, security guard, and many other mostly dead end jobs. Jesse spent over nine years in LasVegas working for the casinos.
From the age of 13 until the age of 48 was a 35 year odyssey of drug and alcohol use, abuse, and addiction. Jesse has been clean and sober for over nine years now.
Jesse lives in New Westminster, BC. His life consists of going down to the park with a bag of bread crumbs and nailing pigeons in the head.
Where can we find Jesse online?