Please welcome Jamie Duclos-Yourdon
to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge
Interviews. Froelich's Ladder
was published on August 9th by Forest Avenue.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
JDY: I began to write short stories when I was thirteen. I come from a family of voracious readers, and writing was my way of participating in a broader conversation.
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
JDY: I’m a rigorous plotter (though I do love the term “pantser”). I gained an appreciation for act structure in a screenwriting course, in which I also learned that I’m a sucky screenwriter.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
JDY: The most challenging aspect about writing, for me, is cultivating patience. I write 300–350 words a day; at that pace, it feels like I’ll never accomplish anything.
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
JDY: I’m most strongly influenced by the members of my writing group, The Guttery. We meet every Wednesday night, so I’m constantly being exposed to their work. They are a brilliant group of artists.
TQ: Describe Froelich's Ladder in 140 characters or less.
JDY: Curmudgeon lives atop a giant ladder until being abducted by a cloud and his estranged nephew is enlisted to find him. Plus bowling.
TQ: Tell us something about Froelich's Ladder that is not found in the book description.
JDY: Froelich’s Ladder was conceived as a Shakespearean comedy, such that it culminates in a series of couplings.
TQ: What inspired you to write Froelich's Ladder? What appealed to you about writing what your publisher calls "...a fabulist adventure novel..."?
JDY: Sometimes realism can feel like a joyless magic trick. “Is this your card? Good.” I was inspired to write Froelich’s Ladder because I wanted to create something fun—something that was ridiculous and exuberant.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Froelich's Ladder?
JDY: I spent the most time researching Johnny Appleseed, because the details of his biography are ambiguous. But I also learned about the Naturalization Act, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Donation Land Act—basically, a bunch of arcane laws from the 1800s.
TQ: In Froelich's Ladder who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
JDY: Josie and Uncle Frank were the most difficult characters to write, because I wanted to represent their (Scottish) accents in dialogue. Binx was the easiest character to write, probably because, in an early draft, he narrated the book from under the ladder.
TQ: Which question about Froelich's Ladder do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
JDY: No one has asked how the characters got their names. I used to walk by the Froelick Art Gallery in downtown Portland; I lived on Harold Street; Binx was the name of a British guy who punched me in the face; Josie was the name of the girl who contributed to my getting punched in the face; Gak was a noise I made one time; Francis Meyers is a play on Fred Myers; and Gordy is a play on Yourdon.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Froelich's Ladder.
JDY: “Indeed, it was for this reason that clouds were reluctant herbivores: not by choice, but of necessity.” My copy editor, whom I never met in person, wrote of this quotation, “This is the greatest sentence.” And, man, did I swoon.
TQ: What's next?
JDY: I’m currently at work on book-length Mesopotamian ghost story, with talking crows and people rising from the dead.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
JDY: Thank you! This was a lot of fun.
Forest Avenue Press, August 9, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 248 pages
Froelich nurses a decades-old family grudge from his permanent perch atop a giant ladder in this nineteenth century madcap adventure novel. When he disappears suddenly, his nephew embarks on a rain-soaked adventure across the Pacific Northwest landscape to find him, accompanied by an ornery girl with a most unfortunate name. In their encounters with Confederate assassins, European expatriates, and a general store magnate, this fairytale twist on the American dream explores the conflicts between loyalty and ambition and our need for human connection, even at the highest rungs.
| Photo by Katherine Rosenbaum|
Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, a freelance editor and technical expert, received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. His short fiction has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review
, Underneath the Juniper Tree
, and Chicago Literati
, and he has contributed essays and interviews to Booktrib
. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Froelich's Ladder
(Forest Avenue, 2016) is his debut novel.