Grief, Processed, flash fiction, Issue 36, September 1, 2016
Birthday? August 5
When did you start writing? I dabbled throughout my life but began writing seriously in the early 2000s. I published a few realistic literary stories under a different name. Then I had kid number one, followed 21 months later by kid number 2. Between the two babies and a full time day job I ended up on hiatus for about eight years. I started writing again in late 2012, this time focusing on speculative fiction.
When and what and where did you first get published? My first published story after the aforementioned hiatus was a flash piece called “The Nymph of Limantour,” published in Every Day Fiction on March 6, 2013.
What themes do you like to write about? That’s a tough one. I don’t consciously write to particular themes. Themes tend to arise organically from story; from whatever the characters are struggling with or against. I am quite interested in how intangible human qualities such as feelings, desires, and memories shape us and what happens when those qualities are blocked or threatened. I’m also interested in identity and how relationships among people (or aliens, or fairies, or what have you) help to form or to challenge individual identity. I think these themes thread through many, if not all, of my stories. Occasionally, I find feminist or Jewish themes arising within stories as feminism and Judaism each form part of my own personal identity.
What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? This could become a dissertation, so I’ll try to keep it short and just mention one. During my child-rearing induced hiatus from writing, I felt the itch to write but I wasn’t sure I’d start writing seriously again. My writing teachers had always said to “write what you know,” and I felt as though I’d published all the stories about events from my own life that I found halfway interesting and at all compelling. Then someone in one of my writing classes recommended American Gods by Neil Gaiman. As I read, I saw my own writing through a different lens and realized that the last several stories I’d written before the hiatus had elements of the fantastic in them though they had realistic settings. Since then, although I have explored futuristic and secondary world settings as well, I’ve been conscious that speculative fiction can be a way to translate “what I know” -- that is, my experience and observations of what it means to be human -- into something I find more interesting than the suburban day to day.
J. J. Roth lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and two school-aged sons. She’s a lawyer by trade and practices law at a software company. When she’s not parenting or lawyering, she squeezes writing into the interstices. Her fiction has appeared in Nature, Urban Fantasy Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and a number of small press publications. J. J. is an associate member of the SFWA and a member of the Codex Writers Group. For more information, visit her website at http://www.jjroth.net, find her on Facebook at JJ Roth, or follow her on Twitter where she is @wrothroth.