Interview: Jones Jones

Image by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

We speak to Jones Jones about his writing and the Welsh language. His stories appeared in Neon #31.

Both of your stories have a distinct written style. The short paragraphs and an absence of speech marks makes the writing appear very stark against the page. Is this a style that you think is typical of your writing, or something that suited these stories in particular? How would you feel about your writing being called “minimalist”?

I think speech marks get in the way of flow. As for the short sentences and minimalism, I just got bored of over-descriptive writing. It feels too prescriptive. I think readers need room to fill the blanks. Plus, most of the time I write about everyday situations, so everyday language seems most appropriate. I don’t say, oh, the sky is a portentous and glowering yellow-grey, I say oh, it looks like rain.

Having read the extract from your work in progress on your website I was struck by how different the style was. The cold, controlled tone was replaced by something more earthy and violent. Do you feel as though there’s any difference? Do you think that you write differently when working on a longer piece as opposed to a shorter one?

I don’t think it has much to do with the length of a piece. The “earthy, violent” voice is just as much me as the more “cold, controlled” voice. I think they’re both very violent in their own way; maybe the latter even more so. I’m very violent in my own head.

In your bio you mention work on a novel titled Ysgol. What does this word mean? And what is the novel to be about?

Ysgol means school in Welsh. It’s a story about someone who goes to an underprivileged school in a depressed part of Wales. He does his best to fit in; to save himself from going under. Gradually though, he goes under. He gets into university, but fucks it all up and ends up back where he started. It’s very depressing. Thankfully, I’ve cut it back to a short story that I’m publishing in a collection this December

Do you feel your Welsh roots in your writing at all? Do you speak any Welsh? Would the presence of a second language influence your writing?

I do think of myself as Welsh, but I’m not sure how much of my Welshness remains. I left Wales when I was seventeen and have only really been back for long weekends. I’m too lazy and ignorant to have learned another language and I’m embarrassed about it, especially given the chances I’ve had. It would probably influence and improve my writing no end.

You mention on your website that you’re considering self-publishing. What made you consider this route?

I no longer have a novel to publish since cutting Ysgol. But I plan to self-publish a short story collection before the year is out — mainly because I don’t think my work is commercial enough for a publisher. Plus big companies frighten me to death. I’d self publish every time and give my books out for free if I could afford it.

Does your work appear anywhere else online?

Only on my website jonesjones.moonfruit.com and at www.metazen.ca.

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Jones Jones was born in Wales but now lives a long way away. He is working on his first book of short stories. He blogs at jonesjones.moonfruit.com.