Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interview with River Jordan

Tell us where you were born,  grew up and where you currently live?

I was born in a small town outside of Victoria, Texas.  We lived there for a few years and then our family bounced around to different towns along the Gulf Coast and The Rio Grande Valley.
I'm still on the Gulf Coast of Texas but living in the country south of Houston, Texas.

Did that bouncing around influence the way you write?

In a way, I guess it did. Starting a new school every few months would be hard on any child. I was shy and introverted so you know it was terrifying at times.  After a while, I didn't feel the terror any longer because I had reverted completely into myself.  My sister Darla was the complete opposite, she became my protector. My sister and I prayed a lot during that time in our lives.

Of all the cities you lived in those days,  what is the most memorable or the most memorable/interesting moment?

At Memorial Middle School in McAllen, Texas, the assistant gym teacher was Ms. Pena.  A week before the last day of school she saw I was doing a one-armed cartwheel.  I didn't have very good form so she came over and helped me out.  She encouraged me to sign up for the "talent show" on the last day of school and helped me figure out a routine.  So, on the last day of school, I performed my routine. It consisted of a  cartwheel, round-off, one-armed cartwheel, and then somersault. The routine wasn't so special, or different from the other girls' routines, but I changed that day. I became a bit more confident and less shy.

You have said you have an obsession with writing a personal history of your family. How is that progressing?

It's progressing nicely. My parents always loved to recount stories of our childhood.  I never thought much about the memories until they were both gone.  Because of this, writing it can be very emotional and so I spread it out.

Where does your love of reading and writing come from? 

Really, both my parents loved to read. My father never went anywhere without a Louie L'amour in his back pocket. That was nothing compared to my mom, though. She would even read encyclopedias for fun!  And naturally, this love of reading transferred to me.  But it took the encouragement of one of my teachers to get me to write prose.  Ms. Walters just told me to do it. So I did.  It turned out that I was pretty good at it.

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

William Shakespeare, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and Harper Lee for the classics.  Modern authors include Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton and Cormac McCarthy.

Clive Cussler and Cormac McCarthy. I am not familiar with them.  Tell me about their work and why they are some of your favorites? 

Clive Cussler writes adventure novels that involving NUMA agents that solve historical mysteries around the world! What's cool is that NUMA really exists and his characters' adventures deal with real historical mysteries.
From the moment I picked up my first Clive Cussler novel, I have been entranced with them.  I love history and these satisfy my sense of adventure as well!
Cormac McCarthy is the author of such books as All The Pretty Horses and The Road, which happen to be my favorites of his. 
The first book I read of his was All The Pretty Horses.  I had gone to a garage sale at my neighbor's house and bought it for a dime.  I've probably read it three times.  
The Road was given to me as a gift by my brother.  He likes to introduce new genres to me and 9 times out of 10 he ends up starting a trend in my reading! 

In terms of reading, what are some of the types of genres you like to read. And for writing, do you gravitate towards any specific genre?

I enjoy reading non-fiction historical books, YA, mysteries or adventurous books that challenge my "sleuth" side, and self-help books.
My writing tends toward YA, but I have ventured into a bit of sensual fantasy writing.

Are there genres you don't write much or haven't in the past that you want to do more of?

I would like to be able to write historical novels.  Also, I want to explore little known mythology.

What are some of your hobbies and do any of them play an important part in the types of things you write about?

Some of my hobbies, other than reading, include swimming, fishing, writing poetry and gardening.  As you can see, most of these hobbies require average physical activity but leave the mind free to wander.  I use this time on meditation which in turn relaxes me and churns my creative side (writing).
Is my writing affected by my hobbies specifically? Maybe, because I've been told that my writers "voice" tends to be reflective.

Other than full length novels, you have a deep love of poetry. Have you put out any poetry?

For publication, no.

Do you intend to?

I would love to publish a book of poetry, but it is a hard step to take.  Poetry is often so very personal. In a way, it's a peek into the writer's mind and soul.  Most of my poetry is a reflection of my heart at the moment I am writing the piece.  The other is my view on the world, at large.  Am I in a hurry to publish, no I am not.  Would I want to some day, yes I would.  Hopefully, people will understand my poetry and benefit from my writing.

When you sit down at the computer or stare at a blank page, what motivates you to write?

Honestly, anything motivates me to write.  I could be walking along and see someone or something that begins a story in my head.
For example, I was visiting my nephew who is an inmate at a federal prison in the Hill Country.  I'd just finished a radio interview and writing was on my mind.  As I approached the security check there was a woman ranting about seeing the warden because the metal detector kept going off and she claimed to not have metal on her.  I waited patiently by the door until one of the regular security guards noticed me and waved. I smiled back at him knowing that he needed me to be patient. When the warden showed up the guard came over to me and asked after my health.  After passing through the checkpoint, I opened the huge gate to walk alone to the visitor center. As the chainlink gate clanged loudly shut behind me, it was as if a door opened into my imagination.  In my mind I imagined myself walking down the long walkway in the bakingly hot sun beating down on me.  Unknown to me an escaped prisoner was running silently toward me.  He grabs me and lifts me over his shoulder in a fireman carry.  I'm so startled that at first I can't even speak.  A drop of sweat slides down my nose and drops to the ground invisibly passing beneath his running feet. Then I begin to scream and hit his legs, trying to make him drop me to the ground.  He holds my legs tighter yelling and cursing at me.  I realize that my outburst is only making things worse, so I try to speak reasonably to him. He tells me to shut up and that I don't understand anything. Apparently the same people that sucked him into illegal drugs were trying to do the same to his younger brother and he needed to get out and try to stop them.   Then suddenly I am back in "myself" and opening the door of the Visitor Center.

You are inspired by water. How does that play into your writing?

Because my father was a fisherman, we lived on the coast.  Our very existence depended on the bounty of the Gulf.  Every moment of every day was spent on or in or near the Gulf of Mexico.  If I am fishing or swimming the salty sea air inspires my introspective side.  Naturally, when I am at peace, my mind will wander to idyllic summer days spent on my father's trawlers or swimming in the water.

What are some of the places you have traveled to, in terms of out of Texas?

Charlotte, North Carolina; Los Angeles, California; Kings Canyon, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Peaks of Otter, Virginia; Albuquerque, New Mexico, Baltimore, Maryland; Ocean City, Maryland, many places in Florida; outside of the U.S., The Yucatan, and Cozumel.

Do you have any interesting stories of the places you have traveled to?

During a trip to the Yucatan, we came in port at Progreso.  The crowds of cruise goers were smiling and laughing, ready to embark on their various tropical excursions.  We had our brightly colored clothing and festive hats and sunglasses to protect us from the sun.  As we disembarked in long lines, the crowd suddenly became subdued and at times completely quiet.  We wondered what was going on, but were so far down the line we could not actually see anything.
As we neared the "gate" at the edge of the dock, we saw what had everyone quietly and quickly shuffling along.  Apparently, the local militias "protected" the port and were armed with machine guns!!
We hurried past the guards and quickly boarded the tour buses leaving to various excursions.
It put a damper on the day, but only until the lovely tropical paradise erased it from the forefront of our minds.

What is your goal or what do you see as your future as a writer? 

Every writer's dream is to have their books live through the ages, to be one of the classics.  It would be nice to write something that would opens peoples hearts and minds to the sweet expectation of the sunrise and the quiet promise of the sunset.
<3To show them that they are beautiful creations that are made for more than the lives they have settled on. 

You have an Amazon author page. Tell us about that. 


I setup my author page just a few days ago when a fellow author, Mark David Gerson asked for it.  I quickly researched it and set one up as a convenient way for readers to find my published work. 
 It is interesting to monitor the sales as well as what geographic area is buying them.  Also, my twitter followers have increased by 10 percent.

Below is a short story by River called  "Oshana's Escape"

The flood waters have reached the attic where I was hiding.  Looking out of the huge tear in the attic that spanned from one corner to the other, I see the water rushing by so close I could touch it.  I thought the worst of the hurricane would be the gale force winds and gangs of tornadoes that had laid waste to my adopted home-town of Beaudreaux, Alabama, but then the water began to rise.
Life is weird sometimes.  Only a year ago I had escaped my clueless mother's home when her new boyfriend had begun to slap me around and other things.  I knew it was not enough for him to slap me around when he brought a friend over.  They chased me to my bedroom as I ran in terror.  "Oshana, stop, or it'll be worse for ya!" he yelled out.  I remember falling to the ground, screaming.
I opened my eyes and saw my baseball bat.  My real dad had encouraged me to play and I knew what he wanted me to do.  When they pulled me up roughly, I whaled the bat on both of them until they were unconscious.  Then I filled my backpack and left them in the ruins of my bedroom, my bat tightly fisted in my hand.  I never looked back.  Didn't even bother leaving a note for my mom who never believed me anyway.
Now here I am, fifteen years old and facing the impossible, yet again. 
The rustling behind me reminded me that I was no longer alone.  Gone were the days of sleeping under bridges, in cemeteries, the occasional homeless shelter,  hidden from the public eye alone. 
Shasta looked over at me and smiled her doggie smile.  She was a lab mix and one of the laziest dogs I had ever encountered.  But she loved me and I loved her.
"Hey lazybones, time to get out of this place if we can."  I looked out of the window one more time, my eyes following the debris flowing briskly past the window. 
I knew it would be risky, but our only way of getting out of here alive was to use the air mattress that I'd been trying to fill since yesterday evening like a boat.  Thinking of it, my cheeks began to hurt again.  I'd spent most of the evening before blowing into it.  The family that lived there had a pump to fill it, but it was electrical and the electricity had been out for two days. 
Shasta came over and licked my hands good morning.  Somehow she knew from the moment we found each other that I would not allow anyone or anything too close to me again.  I smiled down at her and ruffled the fur behind her ears thinking she was better than any human being on earth.
Within an hour the water had risen another four inches and was now just below the windowsill.  Thankfully, the house we were in hadn't been washed away like the one across the street.
The air mattress was as full as I could get it.  I tied one length of the rope I'd found to two corners of the air mattress so that I would have a way of maneuvering it once the current had it in it's grip.  I had thought about it long and hard; I knew it was the only way to escaping the steadily rising water.
"Come, Shasta."  Shasta came over and sat at my feet.  I bound us together with another rope so that I could be her anchor if she slipped off of the mattress. 
I slipped the mattress through the tear in the wall of the attic, making sure to loop it over a protruding board.  The mattress was quickly taken up in the current and threatened to flip over.  Acting quickly, I held fast to the back corner of the mattress and put one of our food packs on the mattress two feet from the foot.  This kept it stable enough to slip the other food pack on to it, near the front where the maneuvering rope was tied.
"Okay, Shasta, hop on.  Don't be afraid, I have you."  Shasta gingerly stepped onto the air mattress and curled up next to the food pack at the back end. 
I made sure my back pack was secured tightly to my shoulders and crawled slowly onto the air mattress.  Holding the edge of the attic wall, I pulled us in close to it, fighting the current, and with my other hand, slipped the rope off of the anchoring board.
As if the current were on my side, it slowed enough to allow me to sit securely before rushing back into breakneck speeds.
"Hang on, Shata." I cried out as we rushed into the speeding current.  A quick thrill of excitement shot through me as the houses blurred by us on both sides. 
Maneuvering the makeshift boat was a moot point at the speeds we were going.  I just kept hold of the maneuvering rope and prayed that the water would take us somewhere safe.
Within a few minutes the water began to slow as it spilled out into the less populated part of town.  It seemed as if we'd been rushing along for hours when it had probably been less than ten minutes.  I  was completely soaked and the air mattress was steadily losing air.
The danger hit us instantaneously and in a flash Shasta and I were thrown from the mattress; rolling off the back end and into the water.  The front end had caught on a branch that ripped a gaping hole that rendered it mere rubber and thread in moments.
My eyes were wide open as I hit the ice cold water.  It felt as if I'd fallen into a washing machine as I tumbled end over end in a frenzy of arms and legs.  I don't remember thinking that I should hold my breath, but I did.
A sharp pain spreads across my abdomen and my silent scream fills my head as my body automatically takes a deep breath of the dank murky water.  Within seconds, the world suddenly disappears in a flash of light. 
"Slugger, my sweet baby girl Oshana, please open up those dark brown eyes for Daddy."
"Daddy?" I whisper with my eyes closed. "Daddy, is that you?  I'm so tired, Daddy. Can I sleep a few more minutes?"
"You have ta wake now Slugger, its time."  My Daddy's gravelly voice fills my heart full of warmth and color.
"I want to stay here in your arms, Daddy."  I snuggle closer to his warmth, the scent of motoroil on his clothes.
"Oshana!" Sternly. "Oshana, wake up now."
"Okay, Daddy."
When I wake, my head is throbbing and I am vomiting, the acidic mess burning the inside of my nostrils as it forces an exit through my nose.  I tried to lift my head off the ground, but the ensuing shot of pain through my skull makes me lay my head back down. 
More slowly now, I lift my head away from the sour smell of my vomit.  My eyes blink open slowly, squinting at the bright sunlight. 
I stare up at the clear blue sky.  The beauty of it makes me want to cry, especially when I realize that Daddy is still in heaven and I'm not.  But Daddy said to wake up and I always listen to Daddy.
All around me is the detritus of the storm.  Fallen trees, branches, trash, lots of outdoor furniture and surprisingly, a lawn gnome.  The oddity of the gnome makes me giggle, but a sharp pain behind my eyes ends it quickly.
Not wanting to lay my head back down in the vomit, I lift myself slowly from the ground.  Finally sitting up, I take in my surroundings and the destruction of the hurricane and flooding. 
"Shasta!"  The patch of dark fur is only a few feet away, but my slow movements make it seem like miles.  "Oh, Shasta, please be alive!" I whisper in anguish as tears well in my eyes..
Shasta bounces her tail and lifts her head as if to say she's okay. 
I notic that the fur around her shoulders was almost completely gone.  I wondered how that could have happened and then it hit me that Shasta had saved my life.  She had dragged me from the water until I was clear of it.
I hugged her tight and untied the rope from around her sore neck and shoulders.  Nearby I found one of my foodpacks and backpack. 
Calling Shasta, I smiled up at the storm-free clear skies, thinking of Daddy, feeling hope for the first time in ages as we set out on our journey.


  1. Awesome story River! Are you planning on ever publishing any full-length novels, or just doing short stories until you decide to publish your poetry? I'd love to get my hands on an actual novel by you! <3

  2. Awesome River! Great story...full if amazing imagery and emotion!