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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Author Interview: Jo VonBargen

Today I am pleased to present to you all the sixth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the ephemeral Jo VonBargen and our conversation went something like this:

Paul: I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Jo: I pour a fresh mug of coffee, switch off the TV, kick off my shoes, stick a finger up into the spirit stream and write what flows down.

Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Jo: One word: ILLUMINATE. Poetry is as necessary as breath, giving us a glimpse of the sublime as well as the ridiculous. Poetry looks into the ephemeral realm of the human mind; it's like blowing on a windowpane. Your breath leaves the imprint of your existence for only a split moment before it evaporates without a trace… like our lives. Poetry worms its way into that elusive space between shadow and soul, and enlightens. I actually think in metaphors, analogies and PFA’s (plucked-from-air). When picturing something to write about, I envision words that imply the scene, but are not the dry facts of it.

Paul: What is a typical day for you?
Jo: Chaos. And not the controlled kind. Unless I’m in the Dallas area with my kids, which I am part of the week. Bless ’em, they let me be me, free to do my own thing.

Paul: In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Jo: My own philosophy is I am what I am and I ain’t what I ain’t. Don’t try to be safe. Don’t listen to your Mom, other writers, Aunt Cracky or your pastor. Tell your story the way it needs to be told. Put your heart and guts on the line. Scream, bleed, sizzle your words onto a page & snip out the parts people skip. Hone it down to REAL!

Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Jo: Forced into early retirement a couple of years ago when I got caught in a layoff, I no longer have the General Manager position to terrorize my days. We have a farm and now that it is summer, I have to mow a lot. By the time I finish the last section I have to begin again at the first! Then I usually have to fight with Rick over every hour I hope to spend on the computer.

Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Jo: Ha! I’ve probably already told it myself somewhere in my writings! I guess I hope you won’t say that you find me boring!

Paul: If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Jo: I got really tired of editors wanting to change my work to fit some cockamamie rule or another handed down from the halls of academe. They had no earthly idea of what my vision was, nor did they care. I do all my own editing, formatting, book covers and marketing. Full control.

Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jo: I almost never plot, plan, organize, outline, etc. Organizational behavior gives me hives. I get struck with an idea and just take it where it goes organically.

Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Jo: It Ain’t Shakespeare, But Oh, How It Glows! is a collection of poetry and prose, writings on human spirit.  The importance of these is to illuminate love’s power when it is love spent without return or love bestowed beyond all prudence. That power manifests as strength, resilience, wisdom and a strong determination to overcome in a world where, sadly, millions of women are used and abused because of their naïveté, or perhaps because cultural, religious or familial ties require that they endure it. Some pieces exist to shine a hard light on dreadful circumstances, if only to discover where truth often hides. The hope is that there is enough beauty, contemplation and in-your-face rant in addition to that so the reader's experience isn't rife with gloom, depression and scattered entrails!

Paul: What inspired you to write this book?
Jo: My fans requested a collection. I’ve been posting single works online for some time, and my lovely readers wanted to have it all in one place. My heartfelt thanks to them for their faithful support! I love them all dearly.

Paul: Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Jo: I have four other books on Amazon; three are poetry, one is a James Joyce parody. In addition to poetry, I write short stories, non-fiction prose, parodies and satires. I may try writing a novel soon if I can carve out some time.

Paul: Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Jo: Of course! Doesn’t everyone? Boxes and drawers full. However lame, they are part of my history so I keep them.

Paul: How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Jo: All day, every day, using (no “i” in Gremln) to schedule automatic tweets, and also I write occasional blogs. I promote fellow indie authors I like on a regular basis as well.

Paul: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Jo: Pretty busy with the farm and my family, actually. I adore reading. I work the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle every week.

Paul: Well thank you Jo, it's been a pleasure talking with you.

About Jo VonBargen: Jo VonBargen is a Texas author and poet who realizes that there is a vast, awake and alive universe of which we are indeed a very small part, thus her effort to elevate the discourse and take a look at the larger picture. Some would even point out metaphysical leanings in a lot of her work. Her influences include Native American traditions and lore absorbed during her childhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Early poems were published under "J.J. King" and appeared in the New York Quarterly and other litmags. Her husband has Asperger syndrome, an autism-related neurological disorder, and some of her works reflect this experience. She currently has five books available on Amazon.

Jo's Blog: Two-Bit Bard
Jo on Twitter: @jvonbargen
Jo on Facebook: JoVonBargen
Jo's latest book: It Ain't Shakespeare But Oh, How It Glows! (Amazon)


  1. Paul, thank you so much for featuring this interview on your blog! You have my deepest respect as an author and this is truly a great honor. Safe journeys always, my friend!

  2. Thanks, Paul for a review that sounds like two living, breathing adults were in conversation. Bless you, especially with this amazing woman and artist you talked with this time.

  3. Never boring, Jo, never boring!

  4. From Jo: You've done a fabulous job with the interview, Paul; I truly appreciate your doing this! It was indeed an honor to be chosen as a subject by such a fine author as yourself. Safe journeys always, my friend!!"


  5. Outstanding interview of an amazing poet and person - good job, both of you

  6. Jo is quite easily the most eloquent writer I know. Her words caress the soul, engage the mind, poke at the cynic inside, and in the end always leave the reader wanting MORE. Great choice for an interview candidate; I doubt you could have found better. As has become my custom to say regarding Jo: BRAVA.

  7. When you described her as ephemeral did you mean "short-lived"? Or . . .? I'm confused. Other than that, great piece!!!