We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackson Bliss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jackson, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
3. The New York publishing industry is comprised mostly of white, cishet women whose target reading demographic is white, cishet women.
4. People constantly underestimate how much time it takes to write, rewrite, and revise a publishable manuscript.
5. Movie adaptations of books don’t have to be faithful (and rarely are).
6. Every person thinks they have a book inside them but most don’t have the discipline to work on it for three to twenty years.
7. Talent isn’t enough.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I write about mixed-race/hapa identity, AAPI/BIPOC masculinities, urban culture, and the redemption of love and art in our broken world. I think one unique aspect of my writing is that I play with form, structure, and storytelling in all my books, centering ideas, language, and creativity over obvious plot lines, car explosions, or clichés. I’m not interested in confirming what the reader knows (or thinks they know) about this world, I want to violate the rules of genre, narrative, and form to find new ways to tell stories about being Japanese/French/British, which is the premise of my debut short story collection, COUNTERFACTUAL LOVE STORIES & OTHER EXPERIMENTS and my choose-your-own-adventure memoir about mixed-race/hapa identity, DREAM POP ORIGAMI. Another thing, I believe that love can be redemptive and that humans are complex, contradictory, confusing, and fascinating, which is what my debut novel, AMNESIA OF JUNE BUGS is about. Final thing, I’m a multimodal artist, meaning I not only write fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting, but I also write music too. Sometimes, I combine them together into a single multimedia text like DUKKHA, MY LOVE, which is a speculative hypertext about an imaginary asteroid and three couples that reunite/fall apart in the face of a virtual apocalypse. I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve got layers.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, man. This is tough. If it’s a long weekend, my itinerary would look something like this:
1. Start at Silver Lake to get some coffee at Intelligentsia, walk around the reservoir, get a bite to eat at V-tree for some dope vegan soul food. Drive to Echo Park afterwards and buy tacos at a food truck.
2. Drive to Hollywood/Highland to console sad Spiderman and Wonder Woman cosplayers, maybe buy them some iced lattes at Javista and a year subscription to Backstage.
3. Drive to K-town to get coffee #2 at one of the many dope Korean American cafés like Sharpe Specialty, Alchemist, or Coffee M-Co. Then eat some spicy stone bi bim bop and a lifetime supply of banchan before throwing up in the alley.
4. Drive to Wi Spa to burn off all that f*cking food & pretend not to get spooked when Korean aunties walk towards you wearing facial masks that make them look like Jason in Friday the 13th.
5. Drive to Abbot Kinney, get coffee #3 at Blue Bottle (heart about to explode now), walk around the neighborhood, go into boutiques, buy mandatory AV hoodie, walk to Café Gratitude, look for celebrities, & order $20 sandwich and green tea.
6. Stop by Med Men to buy Grandaddy Purple & Wedding Cake.
7. Go home, smoke, watch K-dramas, & collapse.
8. The next day, go hiking through Griffith Park, try not to cry at the very top (or take a selfie), & then walk to Los Feliz afterwards to get an Iced Vanilla Latte at Maru.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This could be an entire book, but here are some of the biggest sources of love & support for me:
1. My SC mentors like Aimee Bender & Viet Thanh Nguyen, my MFA mentors like Valerie Sayers & Steve Tomasula, & my writing friends/mentors like Jamie Ford, Karen Tei Yamashita, Tommy Orange, John D’Agata, Peter Ho Davis, Carole Maso, Lance Olsen, Julie Buntin, Michael Martone, Beth Nguyen, Matt Bell, Porochista Khakpour, Emily Saso, Ren Huang, Amy Meyerson, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, and Paul Lisicky, among others.
2. USC for giving me four amazing years during my PhD to read my ass off, work with amazing writers, & learn from masters of the craft.
3. Small presses like Noemi Press, 7.13 Books, & Unsolicited Press, each of which took a chance with my books and published them (or accepted them for publication later this year).
4. All my writing friends I’ve met on Twitter & Instagram, who give me community when I need it the most.
5. All of my mixed-race/hapa/AAPI/BIPOC friends, most of them artists themselves, who create a dynamic and nurturing space for me to grow, learn, & feel seen and understood, helping me flourish in my writing and in my identity.
6. My wife, LB, who is the love of my life and has been there for me since we met on MySpace back in 2007. I legit wouldn’t be where I am without her love, intelligence, compassion, honesty, vulnerability, strength, & beauty.
Aya Mac, Skylight Books Reading (the first one)