Jamaica Plain author Christopher Irvin will soon release his first collection of short stories, “Safe Inside the Violence.” The Gazette conducted a question-and-answer session with him through email about the book. (The session has been edited.)
What prompted you to release your first collection of short stories? “Safe Inside the Violence” is compromised of nine previously published stories (2013 to 2014) and four that are new to the collection. Since I started writing short fiction, around 2010 or so, I had hopes of one day publishing a collection. I’m at a point now where I’m confident in my work and proud of seeing it come together, how the stories stack up over time and themes that developed.
Where does the title come from? From a line in the song “Santa Ana Wind” by Everclear. It’s been stuck in my head since I heard it years ago.
How would you describe the book? The collection is billed as crime fiction, and there is a definite presence throughout, but it’s also literary.
Where is the book available? The official release date is Nov. 10. It will be available at many bookstores in and around Boston, as well as online at Amazon. I’ll be having a launch party at Papercuts J.P. on November 13th at 7 p.m. Come out and support our local shop!
Why did you become a writer? I drew a lot when I was young, and outlined several books throughout the high school and college years. But I was resigned to thinking of the novel as a pipe dream or item on a bucket list. I discovered GrubStreet when I moved to Boston in 2009. I’ve been hooked since my first class. [Editor’s note: GrubStreet is a nonprofit creative writing center in Boston.]
What writers have influenced you and why? I like to think I take a little something away from everything I read, but recently, writers who fall into a ‘literary crime’ category—Richard Lange and William Boyle, or darker literary fiction from the likes of Ron Rash have greatly impacted the direction of my writing. Brian Panowich’s “Bull Mountain” is another recent favorite that’s stuck with me.
How many books have you written? “Safe Inside the Violence” is my third. I also have two novellas – “Federales,” a noir set in Mexico, and “Burn Cards,” about a young woman in Reno attempting to escape her father’s debt.
Are you working on any other books? I finished a novel earlier this year about a retired professional wrestler, but I’m going to rewrite it from the ground up this winter. I’m also working on several comic series.
How long have you lived in JP? Any thoughts on the neighborhood? Six years this month! My wife and I (and two boys, born since we moved here) love JP, and couldn’t imagine living in any other part of Boston. It’s such a great community within a community – from the restaurants and shops, to spontaneous celebrations, and the vast amount of parks and green space.