Today I welcome Jerry Guarino to the blog, let’s find out a little bit more about him and his ‘Cafe Stories’.
Jerry, Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in northern New Jersey, outside New York City and then went to college at Rutgers, majoring in English and American Literature.
What inspired you to become a writer?
All my life I’ve wanted to write, forming the ideas for my stories in my head. I wrote in college, but didn’t submit anything for publication. Then I started writing again last year. My stories came rushing out, like a dam with a hole in it, publishing thirty-five stories in one year. Although I wish I had started sooner, the benefit of waiting was that I had lots of life experience to base my writing on, including settings and characters I have known. Once I have an idea, it only takes me an hour or two to write a story.
How did you decide on your book’s genre?
My book is an eclectic collection of short stories so there are many genres included. There are love stories, humorous tales and mysteries. Most of them have unusual plots, twists and surprise endings. Perhaps some day I’ll settle into one genre, but for now, I get an idea and explore it into a story. Maybe that’s why I have avoided the novel so far, because I’m still finding my writing voice.
What is/are your favorite genre(s)?
I like well-written fiction, nothing too complex, with humorous or satirical themes. For example, I like the ‘Yes, Minister’ stories by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay, very funny political satires about the British bureaucracy. But I also love the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Anton Chekhov and great American writers like Hemingway and Steinbeck.
Are you currently reading anything?
I continue to read the many short stories of Mikhail Zoshchenko, a Russian author. His work is very funny, while making a statement about the frustrations of the people in communist Russia. If you haven’t read ‘The Bath House’, you need to; it’s only a few pages long, but is a classic story that I’m sure you will like.
Who or what is the driving force that keeps you going?
Once I realized that I had a gift as a writer, I was compelled to see how far it would take me. I’ll keep writing until no one wants to publish my stories, which thankfully hasn’t happened yet. I only wish I had started earlier. It’s great when a magazine accepts my story for publication and even better when people tell me they enjoyed reading it.
How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?
Good question. During the day, I’m a teacher, leaving me some time to write in the late afternoon, weekends and the summer. While I write, my wife does crafts, like scrapbooking, making jewelry and quilting. But we always get together at dinner; we have a good balance of work and play.
Tell us about your book.
‘Café Stories’ is a collection of 26 stories, previously published in magazines around the world. Because I have so many different types of stories, the book appeals to a wide audience. Although there are certain stories that stand out, most people have their own favorites. I selected the name because my stories appeal to so many different people, like you would see in your local coffee-house. Students, retired people and everyone in between can find stories they like in my book. Since many of the stories are short, you can read one in the time it takes you to have your coffee and pastry. I wanted my book to be an oasis from the stress of daily life, even if you only have five minutes to spare.
How do you create your characters?
The advantage to beginning to write later in life is that I have had so much experience. Many of my stories have a biographical element to them or are based on people I have known and places I have been. I may exaggerate the qualities of a character for effect, particularly when I am contrasting their motives and behavior with others. More than anything else, I want my characters to be memorable, but not necessarily likable. Characters, along with setting and plot, combine to make a story. You need all three. Myra McIlvain, the author of ‘Legacy’, described my characters this way:
“Jerry Guarino’s ‘Cafe Stories’ sends his readers on a merry chase through a wild array of micro/flash fiction–humor, satire, and pathos. He artfully captures gentle souls and slick cons, the high brows and their unsuspecting victims in characters that step from the page to engage the reader. Guarino finds the tiniest trait that creates zany folks the reader wants to protect or strangle. Often at the same time. Prepare for the surprise twist at the end. He gets you every time.”
Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?
Besides this wonderful opportunity on your site, I have been asked to guest blog on other writer sites, done some book signings, in coffee houses and have participated in programs with the Women’s Literary Café. I will be doing a reading in Sacramento later this year for a magazine that has published my work.
Where can people find you and your work on the web?
As I write stories for the next book, ‘Café Stories Deux’, those will be on the website of the magazines that publish them. You can check my website for links, http://cafestories.net. I’m also glad to send a story to anyone who requests one, whether they want to read a love story, funny tale or mystery. Of course my book is available as a Kindle title to read on their computer or tablet, for less than a cup of coffee I might add.
You can find Jerry at:
Amazon book link = amzn.to/uZ3ylb