Today we’d like to introduce you to Jody Lynn Perry.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 1960, Grandma Moses celebrated her 100th birthday. I was in elementary school and thought living to be 100 was a sound plan. I whole-heartedly embraced said plan, deciding I wanted to be like Grandma Moses—a broad determination with no qualifiers.
We learned that she did not start painting until she was sixty; truth is, she was in her late seventies. This is one of those, ‘be careful what you wish for’ cautionary tales because rather than starting a writing career earlier in life, I did not get a real start till much later…like Grandma Moses. How much of this fleeting thought actually influenced my career is something for the philosophers, though it does make for good copy.
I have been writing on and off since elementary school when I wrote poetry, and, in what was known then as, compositions. My mother helped me with many of these, and I believe I echo some of her writing style. Recently, an assistant described my manner of writing with complimentary eloquence: ‘Your writing is very honest, and you use words deliberately to create a portal that the reader enters with ease… you are like a poet, and each use of each word would make the dictionary proud.’ Ambitious praise which I hope and trust I can continue aspiring to.
My influences have been, as noted on my website, such luminaries as Frances Hodgson Burnett, O. Henry, James Thurber, and Jack Kerouac, among, of course, many, many others. All of these notables, which also include humorists Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry, could (and in Barry’s case, can) wrap their wits around a sentence, communicating with layers of expressiveness and ardor, various images– abstract to fully crystallized.
In the early 1970s, I entertained the idea of becoming a poet, and one of my poems was published in a very obscure, and likely, now defunct magazine. I do not recall the name of the magazine or the poem I submitted, which did not make for an auspicious start. I continued sending poetry and short stories to various magazines and publishers, receiving the requisite rejection letters, and moving through life, sometimes dancing with abandon. Other times slogging through molasses—marriage, a child (my continued blessing!), adventures, misadventures… life.
Dancers, sculptors, hairstylists, painters, singers… all artists have their stock in trade. For the writer, it is words, language belongs to us. The English language, especially in the United States, has enormous freedom to it. We cocoon and hold dear the more formal and pure language of our predecessors, which include the Bard. Yet we happily invent words off-the-cuff and welcome them into the mainstream. Our art is expressed through a combination of letters and sounds, and we create our music via the concatenation of these letters and sounds to form conceptual ideas. Whether a Cherry Ames Nurse Mystery by Helen Wells, W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or James Thurber’s The Catbird Seat, we writers put forth our ideas.
Simplistically, or with a most erudite passage, the reader, unwittingly or with cognizance, is taken on some sort of journey. The above are greats who have inspired me and who have my deepest admiration for the multitude of most satisfying and often enchanting immersion into other orbits.
Has it been a smooth road?
If anything, my road has been the antithesis of smooth. I’ll not list all my struggles, their significance being irrelevant. Suffice to say that my husband and I seriously decided to launch into my writing career in 2009. In October 2011, just after 30 years of marriage and closing escrow on a little fixer home, my husband very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
The struggles a widow experiences are legion, and the voyage is very individual and personal. With my loss being both sudden and completely unexpected (it all happened in a forty-five minute period), there was no real closure; no saying of goodbyes. And having to suddenly deal with… everything made it a further wrenching experience. So, no smooth road, and a plethora of struggles. Deciding to jump full-throttle into a writing career at the age of… not 30!… had its own intimidating conundrums.
Suddenly having my life pulled out from under me (we hadn’t fully unpacked boxes, and there were myriad fixes required for this house), presented with layers of torrents of cataclysmic fiascos. Writing projects unwittingly fell to the very bottom of all the lists, with the dousing of other fires taking priority. No, not a smooth road. Encouragement from a few trusted friends and family helped to shore things up.
During struggles, one often embraces various quotes and platitudes (cliché and otherwise); Bob Marley’s quote on being strong was like a burst of vitamin B1. We have all heard the varying maxims of never too late, keep your eye on the goal, the mountain, the dream. And so I have done. And so I am here with my newly launched website and this interview, both reminding me that, like Grandma Moses, we can start anytime.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
Empowering people and showing kindness has become a driving force in my day-to-day activities; it is often what keeps me going. We all have areas in which we shine, and I am able to make words sing and dance in order to get my assorted messages across.
And what are these messages? The responsibility of privilege is a theme found in my stories, most of which are young adult fiction and fantasy. Further threads include kindness, empowerment and besting hurdles; making touchdowns can be a tough grind! Then there are interesting histories of various locations. There are the noir portals, which can be an absorbing trek through dimly-lit passages.
Other messages aren’t messages at all, but are lighthearted somersaulting in and out of portals with near-Zen playful musings: If someone could play the piano at the speed of sound, would they create a sonic boom? And if it were an entire orchestra, would there be one sonic boom, or one per instrument, or…? And how many light years in a drop of water? After someone has read one of my works, I’d like that person to feel, at the very least, a smile and a sense of calmness.
At the highest of my influences, I’d like a person to feel that yes, he or she can make it happen–it being anything from cleaning the refrigerator to salvaging a relationship, taking that chance–essentially, besting any obstacle. Playing with words is fun for me, and I encourage others to do that, or try their hands at music, or dance, or sketching, or learning math puzzles. And then I want them to help make this world a better place, even if only in some very small way. Part of my writing is that I bring my varying adventures to the written page.
In that wise, I immerse myself in a lively patchwork of experiences that both interest and exhilarate my sense of aesthetics. To put it in 60s vernacular, one could consider life a continued ‘happening,’ and the writer puts words to those moments. I am doing some writing now for Operation Kindness, a no-kill shelter in Carrollton founded in 1976. Animal rights is something I champion with all my heart. I also periodically jam with some musician friends; it has been enormously uplifting to dust off my flute.
Environmental issues and human rights play a most influential role in my choices, and I keep these essences intact in my kaleidoscopic spectrum of articles and stories. It is easy, though, to take ourselves, and our world, very seriously, and certainly we face some very grave issues. But a lighthearted approach can often accomplish far more than a heavy-handed force-infused attack. The artist helps from this vantage. And that is what I do.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I moved to Dallas because my son has lived here since 2009, and we wanted to be near each other. Growing up in New York City, Dallas was not a stomping ground that I ever would have considered. I watched the Kennedy assassination during that bleak weekend in 1963 and saw some of the fate of hippies in the iconic Easy Rider film of 1969.
Being a dyed-in-the-wool tree-hugger (having spent the majority of my life in California), Dallas was beyond any horizons I would have envisioned. Life, however, being that enigma that it often is, tends to land us in most unexpected locations, and I have embraced the energetic display of arts and often exuberant tapestry that Dallas has offered on its very singular Texas platter.
I miss my ocean in California, and I miss the various haunts I had in both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. I miss the abundance of organic and natural food restaurants, though Dallas has a growing handful of these, which I cheerily greet. I miss, as well, the ease of recycling certain products and the overall environmental awareness of California. Dallas, and indeed, much of Texas, does have its own growing understandings and responsibilities regarding these matters.
- Website: www.jodylynnperry.com