River Jordan's novels, shades of Faulkner with hints of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, are southern, visceral and true. But these words do not do her works justice, as she whisks readers away, only to return them home to the deepest depths of his or her own heart.
Jordan shares a peek inside her written and living world as today’s Fall Spotlight.
Do you choose your stories or do they choose you?
Always the stories choose me. And I'm so thankful for them. They show up at strange times, odd voices, a sudden casting of the light. I'm thankful for them, entertained by them, and full of wonder. Where do they come from? Some mystical place in the moonlight I've decided.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? An author? Were the two synonymous?
I think I really considered myself a writer when my sixth grade teacher told me I was one. I just said - ok. That's what I am and that explains a lot. And I continued to write even when it wasn't an assignment or my friends were riding bikes in the sunshine. I'd be in my room banging out stories on an old typewriter. I didn't really consider myself an 'author' I don't think until after my second novel was published. I began then to see the slight shift in the meaning of the word. At this time, I tell myself that I'm an author, but if I don't keep getting the words down I'll no longer be a writer.
If you had to live inside one story for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Mine. :) That's the first thing I think of. As bittersweet as my life has been I wouldn't trade it for someone else's. I think we should all value our own stories, and recognize their importance in the big picture. Ok, to answer another way. Lord of the Rings in that gorgeous fairy land place with the waterfalls and the white billowy curtains during the time when good ruled Middle Earth.
What is the most important lack in your life?
Teleportation. Why hasn't it been invented yet? Teleportation with a side of time travel please. There are too many wild and wonderful places to see in this life, too many wild and wonderful hearts to meet - I really do want to do it all!
Reading is a subjective beast, and inevitably you can’t please all the readers all the time. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author. What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism? Or the meanest? The best criticism was from my writing mentor, Dr. Yolanda Reed who would hand a play back to me and simply say - "You can do better than this." That was the toughest in a tough love kind of way. I consider that tough the way it's meant to be. Mean criticism is different. It serves no value and no writer grows from it. There have been a few of those. I've been very fortunate with the critics and with readers. I've had a few that took the low road. At first those brought me to tears. I'm happy to report the most recent I read from an unhappy Amazon reader - made me laugh aloud. That's maturity on the journey. Take the good criticism and grow from it. Laugh at the ridiculous.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Dark, dark, chocolate.
Dogs or cats?
Both. Big dogs. Tabby cats.
Hard/paperback or eReader?
All of the above. Paperbacks I find are the primary choice for soaking in a hot tub. Which sounds Divine right now.
Tea or coffee?
I just had green, jasmine tea. Followed by a cappuccino. No lie. Primarily - expresso in the am, tea in the afternoon.
Light side or dark side?
Ahhh, the classic penumbra. Does one exist without the other? All of my writing illustrates the nature, the realities and the mystical truths of the existence of the light and the dark. I belong to the light side. The force is with me.
River Jordan is a southerner with a global perspective. She began her writing career as a playwright and spent over ten years with the Loblolly Theatre group, where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga.
Ms. Jordan’s first novel, The Gin Girl (Livingston Press, 2003), has garnered such high praise as “This author writes with a hard bitten confidence comparable to Ernest Hemingway. And yet, in the Southern tradition of William Faulkner, she can knit together sentences that can take your breath.”
Kirkus Reviews described her second novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street, as “a beautifully written atmospheric tale.” It was applauded as “a tale of wonder” by Southern Living, who chose the novel as their Selects feature for March 2006, and described by other reviewers as ” a riveting, magical mystery” and “a remarkable book.”
Her third novel, Saints In Limbo has been painted by some of the finest fiction voices of today as “a lyrical and relentlessly beautiful book,” and “a wise, funny, joyful and deadly serious book, written with a poet’s multilayered sense of metaphor and meter and a page-turning sense of urgency. The Miracle of Mercy Land, a novel set in 1938 along the Gulf waters of Alabama, debuted September 7, 2010 and has been painted as ‘A triumph of beauty,”
River Jordan’s first work of narrative non-fiction, Praying for Strangers, An Adventure of the Human Spirit, arrived to critical acclaim in April of 2011. When not traveling the back roads of America, River lives with her husband Owen Hicks, and their Great Pyrennees lap dog, Titan in Nashville, Tennessee. She thinks about where stories come from – places and people and moods of the heart while rocking on her front porch. And long after the sun sets over the ridge, she waits for the moon to rise, watches the stars come out, and stares off into the blue-night sky believing with all her might.