Inlandia Literary Journeys: Interview (VIDEO)

Inlandia Literary Journeys is a video series produced by the Inlandia Institute and The Press-Enterprise. Watch the interview below, then go a little bit below-er and read how it came about.


@ 3:29 I discuss independent publishing

@7:40 I discuss the genesis of Inside the Outside

@ 14:49 I read Chapter 18 of Inside the Outside: "The Inland Empire"

In 2006, Heyday Books of Berkeley published Inlandia: a Literary Journey Through California’s Inland Empire, which is a wonderful anthology that showcases poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and other literature about the Inland Empire. I picked up a copy of the book in 2007, while I was working on the first draft of Inside the Outside. As a lifelong resident of the Inland Empire, I was overwhelmed and inspired by the rich literary history of the community. I decided that I also wanted to contribute to the history of Inland Empire literature, so I wrote "Inland Empire," which became Chapter 18 of Inside the Outside.

I had no publishing deal in place and wasn't sure if Inside the Outside would ever see the light of day. I liked to imagine, however, that not only would my book one day be published, but the folks behind Inlandia would discover my love letter to the Inland Empire inside of it.

In 2007, the Riverside Public Library and Heyday Books worked together to create the Inlandia Institute, as an offshoot of Inlandia's success. The Inlandia Institute endeavors to recognize, support, and expand literary activity in the Inland Empire with the goal of deepening people’s awareness, understanding, and appreciation of this unique, complex and creatively vibrant area. They envision "an inclusive and collaborative enterprise that promotes writers with a regional voice and that stimulates a greater awareness of the area’s diverse literary, artistic, and cultural heritage."

For the last two and a half years, since publishing Inside the Outside, I've worked very hard to ingrain myself within the literary community of the Inland Empire. A large part of that effort has always been fueled by the initial inspiration I got from Inlandia, so I was thrilled when my friend and fellow author, James Brown, told me that Cati Porter of the Inlandia Institute asked him to put us in touch. Cati is an acclaimed Riverside poet and editor, as well as the Executive Director of the Inlandia Institute.

She told me they were planning a Self-Published Authors Faire and asked if I'd be the keynote speaker. I couldn't say yes fast enough. A few weeks after Cati and I spoke over the phone, we met in person for the first time at an author eventin September 2013 at the Norman F. Feldheym Central Library in San Bernardino. That was the last time we spoke, until about a week ago, when she sent me an email to update me on the progress of the Self-Published Authors Faire, as well as invite me to do an interview for Inlandia Literary Journeys.

So, on Tuesday morning, at around 10:30am, I arrived at The Press-Enterprise headquarters. I was about a half-hour early, so I sat in my car and read a couple of comic books (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 and Batman: The Court of Owls, if you're curious), until it was time to go inside. Soon thereafter, I found myself sitting down with Cati Porter, John Bender, and  Orlando Ramirez in the Inlandia Literary Journeys studio.

It was such a terrific honor and I look forward to collaborating with the Inlandia Institute for years to come.