10 Questions for… Jake Aurelian

Jake Aurelian is an award-winning author with several books under his belt, most recently Living Well is the Best Revenge: D.B. Cooper & The G-Heist Gang & The Missing Two Million and We Leave With Our Guns Out!: A Festival of Photography and Fiction. Since graduating from the University of Illinois in 2000, Jake has since taught English and media at the college level, while also penning over 500 articles on pop culture.

Jake's collection of gritty, quirky short fiction, Dead Wrestlers, Broken Necks & The Women Who Screwed Me Over: A Main Event of Photography and Fiction was a Finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; it was also the Runner-Up in the 2012 Hollywood Book Festival.

It was because of the Hollywood Book Festival (which I was also taking part in) that Jake and I came to know each other. Being that we both grew up enamored with profesional wrestling, we got along like a couple of kids at recess. Without further ado, here are 10 questions for Jake Aurelian...

1. What would you like readers to know about Living Well is the Best Revenge: D.B. Cooper & The G-Heist Gang & The Missing Two Million?

'Living Well is the Best Revenge' is crime fiction told in a true crime/non-fiction style—the story of five criminals, a daring armored car heist and the subsequent search for the missing, pilfered money. I consider 'Living Well is the Best Revenge' to be my personal masterpiece; it allowed me to utilize the first-person narration in a rare way, taking it to a new and unexpected level.

2. What would you like readers to know about We Leave With Our Guns Out!: A Festival of Photography and Fiction?

For those who read my first collection of short fiction, 'Dead Wrestlers, Broken Necks & The Women Who Screwed Me Over: A Main Event of Photography and Fiction,' I believe 'We Leave With Our Guns Out!' serves as a makeshift sequel of sorts; for those unfamiliar with my work, 'We Leave With Our Guns Out!' stands on its own as an eclectic collection of short fiction (horror, war, sci-fi, literary, bad romance and crime) with a gritty, raw, hard-edged narrative and biting humor.

3. Who are some writers that have affected your storytelling sensibilities?

It may seem strange, but I really don’t have any specific fiction authors who served as writing influences. I always wanted to be a writer and I always wanted to discover my voice independently without any outside influence, so, unless I was being forced to read literature for, say, a college class, I avoided reading fiction. I wanted my voice to be distinct, unique and my own, and even subconsciously, I didn’t want any author’s style or voice to play a part in establishing my own. That said, I’ve always been an avid reader of non-fiction—history (Hollywood, Civil War, Russian), biographies (esoteric figures in history), true crime (Black Dahlia, Jack the Ripper)—and, more than any specific one author, the overall non-fiction genre has most influenced my fiction writing.

4.  Professional wrestling tends to be a common theme in your fiction. Why is that?

Yes, pro wrestling, and pop culture in general, are common references in my work. Regarding pro wrestling, I think many of us who grew up in the 1980s and 90s certainly have, in some way or another, a soft spot for pro wrestling; there was an emotional connection between performer and viewer and something really special about that time period that hasn’t been duplicated. As a writer, I enjoy dropping pop culture references (be it pro wrestling or otherwise) into my texts. I believe such references make a connection with certain readers through the sharing of collective pasts.

5. What methods and strategies have you employed in order to promote both yourself as an author, as well as your books?

After writing and publishing a book, a new job begins—a beast called marketing, which has certainly been a learning experience for me. I reach out to local media, promote the books on my website, my Amazon author page, and the usual online tools, such as Facebook and GoodReads. I love the interaction with readers and receiving their feedback, and I am deeply touched and blessed with the support and positive feedback for my work.

6. Writing a book is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?

I work in a meticulous fashion; when an idea is generated, I initially take a few notes and mill over the idea for weeks, sometimes months, before actually sitting down to write— and I write until completion. After a rough version of the story is finished, I always do extensive editing and re-writing (usually while working on additional pieces) before actually sending off to my editor. The writing process that occurred with  my novel 'Living Well is the Best Revenge' was quite different because, unlike spending a few days on a short story, it was a lengthy piece written in a long, 30-day burst of creativity wherein I did little but write.

7. What drove you to write your latest book Living Well is the Best Revenge?

I conceived 'Living Well is the Best Revenge' in March of 2012 (during a road trip to a book signing) and took sporadic notes with the idea of writing the story at some point in the future. I had firm direction for the beginning and end with everything in between pretty iffy (I didn’t even have a title!). 'Living Well is the Best Revenge' certainly exemplifies my aforementioned love of non-fiction, and it was an absolute joy to write. The somewhat clichéd phrase “It wrote itself” certainly applies. The events, the quotes, the characters—everything—just flowed and fell together as if I were relaying factual events versus creating fictional ones. I’ve never encountered a writing experience such as this. It was a special period of my life.

8. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?

I don’t want to be rich or famous, I have no real desire for either, but I would like, in five years (if not sooner) to have my work accepted on the mainstream level and produce a steady income. Someone recently asked me: “Do you have a benefactor?” They was surprised when my answer was no. I have been dedicating my life—working full-time—to fulfill this dream. I live meagerly, sacrifice a lot (personally and professionally) and struggle at times without having a benefactor and/or extravagant dollar advance from a major publisher. I do all my own marketing, I fund all costs associated with my books, and therefore, it takes a while to make a profit.

9. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on an autobiography with a wrestling icon from the 1980s and 90s (who, for the purposes of privacy, I can't yet name). He's one of my childhood heroes, so this is unquestionably a dream come true and somewhat surreal. Helping this legendary performer  publish the story of his unique and amazing life will be a true honor, and if someone told me as a child that I’d eventually be working with this guy, I would’ve never believed it. Likewise, I’ve had a few additional offers for co-authoring wrestling autobiographies, and, while at this point, I have no idea if my involvement in any of these books will ever come to fruition, simply being considered is special. 

10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hopes to see their work published one day?

With a wide array of publishing tools currently available to aspiring authors, there is no better time for writers to pursue publishing. The stigma of self-publishing is gone, and there is most certainly a market for independent authors to find and build an audience. But, with that said, with so many others competing for attention along with the marketing, it’s not going to be easy. Take your product seriously and professionally, and stay strong during the frustrating times. If you have the love of the written word engrained in your soul, never surrender those dreams, despite the proverbial roadblocks. Never allow the criticism or negativity of others regarding your writing or chosen career path to dissuade you from pursuing what you love.

I’d like to thank Jake Aurelian for spending some time here on Inside Martin. If you’d like to learn more about Jake and his work, check out his website Pinfalls. You can also connect with Jake on Twitter and GoodReads. Buy Jake's books on Amazon: