Interview with J. Dylan Yates
J. DYLAN YATES
One day I met a writer.
An angel face and an angel voice; at least this is how I imagined them to be. After my human eyes and ears decided that what I have in front of me is an undercover angelic being, I saw the title of her first book: “THE BELIEF IN ANGELS”.
Well… I couldn’t stay away and just watch. I had to come closer to study the unwinged human being. And I decided… I will interview this human who has such eyes in which you can see a whole world.
Raised on a tiny, New England peninsula, J. Dylan Yates pursued her BFA from the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Belief in Angels, her debut novel, was written over the course of many years while Dylan attempted a number of BA-related jobs, including: teaching, corporate training, real estate, nursing, interior design, parenting, and reluctant housewifery. Prior to publication, The Belief in Angels won the Alexis Masters Scholarship Award at the February 2012 San Francisco Writers Conference. Dylan lives in San Diego with her partner and a talking cat. Her son, Jaime, is a professional musician.
While I was reading the researched articles to collect as much information as I can about J. Dylan Yates, I was listening to some music to relax my mind after a full working day. And while Janis Joplin suddenly started singing in my ears, I remembered reading in a past interview that our guest writer had… as one of her favorite singers being Janis Joplin. In that moment I told myself… “This is a sign. I have to feel J. Dylan’s heart”.
So, according to the received sign, I will direct all my questions to the author’s soul and heart. In doing this I am trying to touch the reader’s soul and heart also; in such a way that the reader’s brain will relax for a while… and move far away from the earthen problems. The list of questions is long and for this reason we decided to split the interview in at least two parts.
Interview with an Angel
– Part 1 –
MCS: Hello Dylan and thank you for accepting our invitation.
JDY: Hello and thank you for inviting me to share an interview with you, Mirela.
MCS: Tell us first, about your book “The Belief in Angels”. Some readers say that it is a beautiful heartbreaking exploration of human nature at its worst and its best. How deep are you exploring?
JDY: Humans struggle toward spiritual growth. I believe this is our genetic trajectory. Storytelling is the spiritual mirror of that trajectory.
Both of these periods are examples of tragic social injustice. In college I studied G. Stanley Hall and absorbed his ideas about childhood development, evolutionary theory, and the inheritance of behavior. Later, I devoured information about quantum physics and genetic intelligence theory. All of this informed and inspired the story.
The characters Szaja, Wendy, and Jules have identities related to the parent communities they were born into. They reflect their small family experiences and also the universal experience of youth and the rituals of their social times. Their experiences were not all intentionally given them by their parents. Each of these characters manages to survive and at times, exploit their situation, to gain self-awareness, resourcefulness and ultimately, freedom. The pogroms and the Holocaust forced the Jewish social norms to shift. Wendy is the result of the religious and social doctrines that drove the racial, gender, sexual and ethnic segregation of the 20’s and 30’s and fueled social change, including a shift into our current Youth Culture, which was celebrated in the ’60s and ’70s. Wendy is, however flawed, the Trautman family instrument of victory against that oppression. Jules questions religious and social belief and behavior only because she has inherited the right to do this through the misery of the generations before her. Szaja and Wendy’s struggles bore Jules’ freedoms.
MCS: What do you believe about chances in life, luck and hard work?
JDY: Serendipity . . . coincidence . . . luck . . . chance . . . these are wonderful words. They imply a chaos in energy. There is certainly chaos in all energetic properties. We exist within it.
Not sure I believe in luck, however, or Absolute Fate, although Fate is something I’ve embraced as a truism. I believe we have choices and our choices determine the trajectory and design of our Destiny.
MCS: Your sense of humor seems to be developed more than in other people’s cases. What do you think about dark humor?
JDY: Why thank you! Dark humor conjures my deepest belly laughs, although I enjoy other genres as well. Dark humor has a diametrically opposed marriage to dark emotions. Anger, Grief, Sadness. I really love this combination. I love it in the same way I love movies, books and experiences that make me laugh and cry at the same time.
Your compliment surprises and delights me because I’m usually described as a serious person. I don’t consider myself serious. However, sarcasm is usually lost on me, which puts people off. I don’t laugh at, what other people consider, hysterically funny sarcastic comments because I tend to understand people on a more literal level. I appreciate sarcastic wit, but I rarely catch it on my own.
MCS: Coming back to your debut novel, you had chosen its title through a dream. Do you recall it completely?
JDY: No. Only that I woke with a surety I hadn’t had previously for what to re-name the book.
MCS: Tell us about magic, Dylan.
JDY: Rain on sunny days, playing in fountains, the whispers from a child with no language, finding perfect blue feathers on mountain hiking trails and blue sea glass on ocean walks, cats chasing unseen things, finding words, losing words, salted caramel cupcakes from Eclipse Chocolate, the ability my partner has to make my stomach tumble with a glance.
MCS: What connection is between the motorcycle accident that happened to you a long time ago and the decision to start writing a book while recovering?
JDY: My motorcycle accident left me with small hairline fractures along my spine. I had no idea because the x-rays taken at the time couldn’t pick out this type of spinal damage. After my biking accident, nearly 30 years later, the MRI’s showed the bone spurs, stenosis and resultant disc degeneration the old injury had caused. Because my spine was in a fragile state, the biking accident triggered several disc herniation’s which left me in terrible pain and unable to move freely.
I realized I needed to do something with my time to occupy the parts of my brain that remained focused on the pain. I decided I was either going to have to start a business from my couch or finish the book I’d started while recovering from the motorcycle accident. A finished book sounded more enticing. I couldn’t type, as I was healing from a dislocated shoulder as well, so I purchased Dragon Dictation and used the program to continue the story past the 35 pages I’d been re-writing for over twenty years. I became lost in historical research and three years later I looked up and realized I had enough material to finish the book. It was time to edit and publish.
MCS: Do you intend to write the screenplay for THE BELIEF IN ANGELS? You wrote this book through several years. When do you plan to finish the screenplay?
JDY: I’m a perfectionist and I’m easily distracted. This is not a good recipe for finishing projects. I’m taking a screenwriting class right now. It’s a 30 Day class, so if I stay the course I’ll have a rough draft at the end of the month. I still have 15 days to go and I’m 10% finished. Although I work best under pressure… I cook until the pressure point, my guess is that someone else may be finishing the script; someone with far more experience and more focus.
MCS: What do you feel about the ocean, Dylan?
JDY: The Ocean, for me and my young character, Jules, holds a magnetic power. Also, like Jules, there are always ocean sounds accompanying my memories of childhood. I’m not surprised to find myself living at another ocean’s edge, but like writing, I thought it was something I’d come to much later in life.
MCS: Between March 30, 2014 and February 27, 2015, you participated and will participate on many events connected with your first book “The Belief in Angels”. Did you have connection with the Writer’s world before publishing your book? Who helped you organize such a huge book tour?
JDY: For financial reasons, I am my own book tour manager and publicist. I had a wonderful publicist, Julia Drake, during the months leading up to my book launch and I’ve essentially taken my direction from her in securing the bookings I’ve managed to find.
MCS: Your schedule being so tight due to your Book tour, I will not prolong the interview now. Thank you for answering these questions and I am patiently waiting for your program to become freer, so we can meet again for a second part of our interview. Because I feel you have a lot to talk about, the list of questions for you is really long. We still have to talk about skies and rain, about your book’s rejection, about writing groups, secrets and their keepers, souls and ancestors, quantum physics and genetic intelligence theory, not to mention your volunteering with Child Survivors of Abuse and Neglect. I am eager to hear all your answers and I’m sure that our readers would have much to think about, after hearing them also.
Do you have anything to direct to our readers, in the end of part one of our interview?
JDY: My goal is to inspire a new generation of readers to be able to form their own answers to some of these questions and to dream us all a brighter, more enlightened future.
You can at any time be in contact with J. Dylan Yates, online: