Author Interview: Jose Serrano Pasqual


We are pleased to share our interview with author Jose Serrano Pasqual. Below he talks about his writing process and his novel Walking Back from Key West.  To read more about Jose, visit his website.  



Brief Bio:

Born in Chicago, Illinois to a single mother, I was raised as an Irish Catholic under the name Joseph S. Kennedy.  At age fifteen I discovered my birth name.  I was playing junior varsity football and the coach called me in and said "Kennedy, you’re out for today’s game.  Get your damn birth certificate into the principal’s office."  I had no idea that Mom hadn’t ever given it to the schools.

When I finally got my birth certificate I found out what my given name was.  Mom always told me I was named after my grandfather.  My maternal grandfather was Joseph S. Kennedy, a Chicago commodities trader.   Mom hadn’t really lied to me, though.   Jose Serrano Pascual was my paternal grandfather.   So when she put my name down on the birth certificate she had changed the spelling of the last name from C to Q.

I studied history, economics and comparative religion at college and graduate school.  After graduate school I worked doing ethnographic histories in South and Central America.  From there began my career as an author.   Presently, I divide my time between Chicago, Il, Naples, FL,  and  Sittee Point, Belize.   

What made you want to be a writer? 

Stories are the history of who we are, what we’ve been and what we hope for the world to be.  The written word is what gives permanence to those stories.   The power of that word and its ability to transcend time and place has always fascinated me.

How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?

Outside of academic writing and my work in recording ethnographic histories, I’ve been pursuing creative fiction writing as a career for a little over twenty years.

If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?  

Mobile, chaotic, base

From where do you draw most of your inspiration?

There are times when, seeing a person or a situation, I begin immediately trying to understand them by making up a story around them.   Unfortunately I recently decided to make small talk with a person whom I’d already imagined a story around.   What was unfortunate was that her story was the story that was already formed in my head.   I now no longer talk to my characters when I run into them.

Give us a one sentence pitch for your latest novel.

Have all the fun, enjoy all of the terrors, absurdity, and disappointments of a visit to Key West without being arrested, broke or hung over, in the comfort of your own chair.

Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?

My method is a combination of the two.  Normally I’m struck by a moment, a scene or a person that is so perfect that I cannot help but imagine a pivotal or concluding moment in a story.  Another such moment then appears to be an opening usually presents itself.  Finally the third moment comes to me and that is when I commence work.   Characters then quickly populate my world.  They are what drive the story and often take me to points I’d never previously imagined.

If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Jorge Luis Borges.  The Southern Literary Renaissance and the Latin America Boom share a common thread of agrarian folk influence that’ s been refined by political scars that cut the people and the earth alike.   There is a way of speaking, thinking and expressing life that in the Spanish is represented by Borges.  In the American experience Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner embody that same intensely vital form. I would want to meet Borges to see if I found the soul of the earth, the artist or the man when I spoke to him.  

If you could meet one character in your book, who would it be? Why?

Emory.   He was the first character that started talking to me before I committed to writing Walking Back From Key West.   I’d wanted to hear more from Emory.   I had hoped that he would share more of his story and life with me.

Favorite quote/personal motto:

It is my hope, that in my own life, when the completion comes, it does so without notice.  I would prefer, that like the characters I follow, that I never realize that the last page has arrived and nothing more will be written.    Then, perhaps, if you page back through my life and story, you might still find me there as myself, troubled only by the completion of the book I am writing.

If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?

Writing is not an aspired to vocation or avocation.  It is an affliction.  You manage it by writing daily, to relieve your soul of the constant stress of the unarticulated thoughts and visions that crowd your mind.  If you are fortunate enough to possess an innate understanding of the rules of the language in which you express yourself then the affliction is manageable with the help of agents and editors.  If you are like the rest of us, and nearly invincibly ignorant of the standards of usage for your primary language, then writing is a daily torment.  Your best option, in either case, is write daily, stop before you are done and develop a hobby to keep your mind off of writing.


Blurb:

No One Ever Really Leaves Key West.

In a hotel, on the northeast side of Key West, Florida, Erin Hardinger is beginning spring break without her medications. For the first time in more than a decade, she is seeing the world without the pharmaceutical filter that her mother placed on her as a child. Beneath the surface of the mundane and absurd fixtures of Key West’s tourist trade, a world of the living and the dead confronts Erin at every turn. The torn edges of perception and reality soon spill over into the lives of her companions and strangers; a crooked doctor on the run from the mob, the panic stricken wife of a retired optometrist, and a group of college students all find the edges of their reality blurred. Is it Erin’s awakening that is causing this, or is it the hotel, or is it Key West itself?


Links to purchase novel:



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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.