The internet is filled with blogs and would-be writers, but one who stand out amongst the many is J. Scott Grand. He’s written for the stage, film and operates a literary masterpiece of a site out there on the information highway.
It can be hard to fit J. Scott Grands writings into a box (if you’re into that sort of thing?). Is it erotica, is it drama, is it poetry or something completely different? The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter! The writing is captivating – it reaches a hand out and grabs the readers. It pulls you in, and with a iron grip keeps you sitting there until you have read every single word on the page.
Many of the stories by J. Scott Grand centers around societies fringe characters, such as sex-workers, addicts and other people that mainstream usually points the judgmental finger at.
But that doesn’t happen here. Some might accuse J. Scott Grand of glorifying junkies and whores, but as the man himself has once said, and I quote – “I don’t. I glorify human beings. If you’re concerned that I romanticize certain aspects of the lives of junkies and whores, then I think you’re reading my work too narrowly. I think their lives, like yours and mine, contain romantic elements which should be acknowledged. Too many stories paint them as mere victims, deviants, or criminals. I count many addicts and sex workers as friends, and as some of the smartest and most talented people I know. They can be beautiful, they can be ugly—they have flaws just like anyone else. It makes me sad that so many people are afraid to just be who they are and say what they want. They tend to marginalize those who do or who choose to live their lives differently than others. They hide behind the masks they wear, safe in anonymity” – And there you have it people, this is what makes J. Scott Grand – well, Grand, and his writing just plain awesome.
I asked J. Scott Grand if he would like to answer a couple of questions about himself, his writing and this world we all try to survive in. Thankfully he was game, and here is what followed:
When did you know, you wanted or needed to write? Did you have like an epiphany at some point, or did it just slowly creep up on you?
J. Scott Grand: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My mother keeps a comic book I wrote and illustrated at six years old, so I guess the interest was there from early on. I read voraciously as a child—I still do. It was always something I wanted to do. It didn’t become a need until later on. After I got clean, I started to write to help process and make sense of my experiences. I needed to write it down to have perspective. Sometimes I feel like I don’t experience anything until I write about it. These days, if I go more than a day or two without writing, I feel out of sorts and am generally pretty miserable to be around. I’m sure pop-psychologists like Dr. Phil would say I traded in one addiction for another
Would you call yourself an erotic writer?
J. Scott Grand: I generally dislike genre labels, although I’m pragmatic enough to recognize that we live in a world where things are constantly being sorted into buckets for purposes of sale and consumption. I don’t think of the work I publish as J. Scott Grand as erotic, in that it’s not generally intended to arouse the reader. But many of my stories have erotic moments in them and I have certainly consciously sexualized things at times. For example, I have a story about the first time I shot up which is very sexual. I didn’t intend it to be erotic but it definitely had that effect on some readers. I remembered it as a very sexual act—in many ways it was—so that’s the way I wrote it. I’ve been called a transgressive writer, which for lack of a better term, is probably the most accurate. I have been writing erotica under a different name, as part of a project I’m working on with Guy New York.
You’ve written for the stage, screen and worked on novels. What do you feel is the major difference between these formats?
J. Scott Grand: The degree of control and collaboration. I spent a few years working in the film industry and nothing came out of it other than a lot of rejections and an optioned script. When you write a screenplay, you’re either a gun for hire or writing on spec. Either way, unless you’re an established author, you’re not going to retain control unless you produce the film yourself. I really enjoyed working in theater because in my experience, the written word gets more respect there. I enjoyed the collaborative process of working with directors and actors that were interpreting what I had written. When you’re writing short stories and novels, you have more control (provided you’re self-publishing), otherwise you’re dealing with an editor and decision-makers at publishing houses.
All writers seem to have a process when writing, from getting an idea to putting words to that idea. Could you take us through your process and your places of inspiration?
J. Scott Grand: My process varies depending on whether the story is autobiographical in nature. If it’s something that happened to me, I tend to just spit it out on paper and then spend a lot of time editing and rewriting. If the story is more fictional, I tend to start with a brief moment in time, some interaction I’ve experienced or witnessed. I then spend a lot of time imagining the lives of the characters that shared that moment, creating personal histories for them I don’t necessarily write them down but I always ask myself, how did these people get to this exact moment in time? What caused this to happen? I find once I can answer those questions, the stories tend to write themselves and I let the characters drive the plot. Regardless of whether I’m writing a story that is autobiographical or straight fiction, I spend a lot of time laboring over the opening sentence. For me it sets the tone of the story. Once I have an opening line that works, I will just write it as quickly as possible. At that stage, I don’t worry too much about structure and word choices. I’m a big fan of editing and rewriting. That’s when the real work starts.
You often tell the stories of sex-workers, drug addicts and other people that society has placed on the bottom of the food chain. What is that draws you to these characters?
J. Scott Grand: In large part, because I’m one of them. I’ve felt like an outsider my entire life, so naturally I’ve gravitated to and identified with those that live on the margins of society.
There’s a lot of women writing erotica or personal sexual themed blogs on the internet today. Why do you think, we don’t see more men expressing themselves, their fantasies and intimate lives online?
J. Scott Grand: I don’t agree with the premise that men aren’t expressing themselves online. One of the things I hate most about this world and American culture in particular, is that it is so male-oriented. Sadly, our society is still a patriarchy and I feel as if everything is saturated in the male perspective. Unfortunately, it’s a male perspective that I don’t subscribe to If you’re a man and you want to blog about your sex life on the internet, don’t whine to me about your declining sense of power and relevancy in the world, and don’t brag to me about your sexual conquests. It’s weak, it’s boring, and it’s tired. There are great woman writers and artists are on the internet and their work is often painfully honest, sometimes vulnerable, and always engaging. Men should follow their example I think Guy New York tends to do that a lot in his sex writing and I think it’s brave of him to do so. I’d like to see more of that from male writers, whether they are working in erotica or other genres.
Which writers in the online community, would you consider yourself a fan off?
J. Scott Grand: There are a lot of damn good writers online. Siren O’Brien (Californoir) is one of my favorites, she’s extremely talented and I am always moved by her writing. I’m also a big fan of Charlotte Shane (Nightmare Brunette), Antonia Crane, Jade Bos (Hookers or Cake), Dennis Dubay (Vagabond King), Guy New York, Daisy Danger, Killing Charlemagne, Ali Conrad (Claritea), Fictionz, Insomnia Girl, and Melissa Gira Grant. I know there’s some I’m leaving off this list and I’ll regret it later.
What you like for your readers to take with them, when they’ve finished reading one of your stories?
J. Scott Grand: Shit. I don’t know. I write to try to make sense of the world as I see it. If people enjoy it, then that’s wonderful but I don’t expect them to take away the same things from a story that I do.
Many great cities in the United States have fallen short the last decade - such as Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. As someone who spends time in New York - a city many people call the capital of the world – is the big apple rotting?
J. Scott Grand: Many of my friends in New York are writers, musicians, and artists and it always pisses them off when I say that New York is a dying city. Unfortunately, I think that it’s true and have thought so for many years. For me, it began during the Rudy Giuliani era, if not earlier. An effort was made to clean up New York, to make it homogeneous. At the same time, the disparity between classes grew further and further apart. The end result is that New York has become a less interesting, less diverse and inspiring place to live. Of course, there are exceptions. In contrast, I’ve spent a lot of time in New Orleans over the last 7 years and I find it inventive and inspiring. I think the internet has really changed the way people work and communicate, and as a result, we have access to great art and interesting people from all over the world. It used to be that you had to move to a major city, such as New York or Los Angeles to have a career as an artist. I’m not sure that’s true anymore or if it is, it’s not the obstacle that it once was. As a result, these cities have become less interesting to me.
2011 just ended and we’re almost a week into 2012, what would you like this year to have in store for you?
J. Scott Grand: I’m working on some interesting projects that I have high hopes for. I’ve started work on a new novel, in which I’m reinterpreting the story of the famous Depression Era bank-robbers, Bonnie and Clyde, from the perspective of Clyde’s sister-in-law, Blanche Barrow. This will likely have little to no historical accuracy but will be a lot of fun. I’ve also started an erotic media company with Guy New York, called Sock Drawer Press. I have some other projects in the works too but I’m reluctant to talk about them until they’re further developed.
I also highly recommend the book “Trash and Vaudeville” A collection of short stories by J. Scott Grand and featuring the artwork of Eliza Gauger, Molly Peck and Katie West. Also available is the ebook “Billy’s Topless” Get them both on http://amazon.com now!