INTERVIEW with Jacob Mendelsohn

 Jacob Mendelsohn's most recent work is All My Goodbyes.

He was born in Toronto, raised in Chicago, currently lives in Brooklyn, NY (just don’t hold that last one against me). During the day,  he is a legal secretary who has been writing most of his life, "but only recently have I been getting paid to do it."

He writes general literary fiction with some cross-genre infusions of science fiction and noir. All My Goodbyes is a collection of ten short stories that range in scope from portraits of blue collar workers in middle America to jet setting pseudo-spies. "The characters of many of the stories are individuals who are somewhat isolated and who exist in the shadows. They are people who few take notice of. As an only child and a writer, I have discovered it very easy to become invisible in a crowd."

Mendelsohn approaches his writing in a semi-methodical way. "If I am going to write a story, I need to know how it begins and how it ends. I don’t necessarily need to know the middle. If I don’t know how it ends, the writing of the story tends to meander. My inspirations come from small moments during everyday life. I can see a kid on the subway smile or frown or cry and I discover a story right in that moment in time. Actually, while I hate riding the subway – most New Yorkers do – I’ve found that much of my inspiration comes from those claustrophobic commutes."

His main challenge in writing is "Sticking to a regular writing habit is not easy. I have a day job, so much of my time is taken up with that. Like many writers, I find excuses not to write, like doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom floor."

Mendelsohn is inspired by a couple of great writers. "It’s so hard to pick just one writer, but if I had to select someone who has influenced me greatly it is Haruki Murakami. He creates these strange worlds that I think of as “urban magical realism.” Also – in a completely different vein – John Cheever, who I think of as the greatest American short story writer. He provided small glimpses into characters’ lives without giving away too much. He would show the reader just enough and let you imagine the rest. A great writer who respects his readership."

Something Mendelsohn's fans might find interesting is "Almost all of the characters I write about also like baseball. And while I may not always mention it, each one has a favorite team, and that fandom influences who they are as people. I am a Chicago Cubs fan, so I have a strong affinity for those society perceives as losers (but who are merely winners-in-waiting)."

Finally, what might Mendelsohn tell aspiring writers? "My advice for aspiring writers: find the correct balance between your life and your art. They are not the same thing. Write, create, whatever you may do, just don’t do it in lieu of friends and family. Don’t cut off the real world just so you can create your own fantasy ones. Personally, I wish I took my writing a bit more seriously when I was younger, focused as much on the craft of writing as the art of it. I wish I had a more habitual writing regimen. My goal moving forward is to force myself to write more often. Writing is like exercise, and you can’t just do it haphazardly."

Find out more about the work of Jacob Mendelsohn at the following:



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