Welcome! Let me pour you a cup of tea and we'll get started. Help yourself to a sandwich and a scone. We'll also be having a lovely persimmon cake for dessert today.
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in northern New Jersey, outside New York City and then went to college at Rutgers, majoring in English and American Literature.
What inspired you to become a writer?
All my life I’ve wanted to write, forming the ideas for my stories in my head. I wrote in college, but didn’t submit anything for publication. Then I started writing again last year. My stories came rushing out, like a dam with a hole in it, publishing thirty-five stories in one year. Although I wish I had started sooner, the benefit of waiting was that I had lots of life experience to base my writing on, including settings and characters I have known. Once I have an idea, it only takes me an hour or two to write a story.
How did you decide on your book's genre?
My book is an eclectic collection of short stories so there are many genres included. There are love stories, humorous tales and mysteries. Most of them have unusual plots, twists and surprise endings, much like O. Henry stories. Perhaps some day I’ll settle into one genre, but for now, I get an idea and explore it into a story. Maybe that’s why I have avoided the novel so far, because I’m still finding my writing voice.
What is/are your favorite genre(s)?
I like well-written fiction, nothing too complex, with humorous or satirical themes. For example, I like the Yes, Minister stories by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay, very funny political satires about the British bureaucracy. But I also love the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Anton Chekhov and great American writers like Hemingway and Steinbeck.
Are you currently reading anything?
I continue to read the many short stories of Mikhail Zoshchenko, a Russian author. His work is very funny, while making a statement about the frustrations of the people in communist Russia. If you haven’t read The Bath House, you need to; it’s only a few pages long, but is a classic story that I’m sure you will like.
Who or what is the driving force that keeps you going?
Once I realized that I had a gift as a writer, I was compelled to see how far it would take me. I’ll keep writing until no one wants to publish my stories, which thankfully hasn’t happened yet. I only wish I started earlier. It’s great when a magazine accepts my story for publication and even better when people tell me they enjoyed reading it.
How do you balance your personal life with your writing career?
Good question. During the day, I’m a teacher, leaving me some time to write in the late afternoon, weekends and the summer. While I write, my wife does crafts, like scrapbooking, making jewelry and quilting. But we always get together at dinner; we have a good balance of work and play.
Tell us about your book.
Café Stories is a collection of 26 stories, previously published in magazines around the world. Because I have so many different types of stories, the book appeals to a wide audience. Although there are certain stories that stand out, most people have their own favorites. I selected the name because my stories appeal to so many different people, like you would see in your local coffee house. Students, retired people and everyone in between can find stories they like in my book. Since many of the stories are short, you can read one in the time it takes you to have your coffee and pastry. I wanted my book to be an oasis from the stress of daily life, even if you only have five minutes to spare.
How do you create your characters?
The advantage to beginning to write later in life is that I have had so much experience. Many of my stories have a biographical element to them or are based on people I have known and places I have been. I may exaggerate the qualities of a character for effect, particularly when I am contrasting their motives and behavior with others. More than anything else, I want my characters to be memorable, but not necessarily likable. Characters, along with setting and plot, combine to make a story. You need all three. Myra McIlvain, the author of Legacy, described my characters this way.
“Jerry Guarino's Cafe Stories sends his readers on a merry chase through a wild array of micro/flash fiction--humor, satire, and pathos. He artfully captures gentle souls and slick cons, the high brows and their unsuspecting victims in characters that step from the page to engage the reader. Guarino finds the tiniest trait that creates zany folks the reader wants to protect or strangle. Often at the same time. Prepare for the surprise twist at the end. He gets you every time.”
Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?
Besides this wonderful opportunity on your site, I have been asked to guest blog on other writer sites, done some book signings, in coffee houses (of course J) and have participated in programs with the Women’s Literary Café. I will be doing a reading in Sacramento later this year for a magazine that has published my work.
Where can people find you and your work on the web?
As I write stories for the next book, Café Stories Deux, those will be on the website of the magazines that publish them. You can check my website for links, http://cafestories.net. I’m also glad to send a story to anyone who requests one, whether they want to read a love story, funny tale or mystery. Of course my book is available as a kindle title to read on their computer or tablet, for less than a cup of coffee I might add.
It was lovely to get to know you today, Jerry, and I wish you all the best success with your writing. Thanks again for stopping by!
Contact information and bio:
amazon book link = amzn.to/uZ3ylb
A Modern Day O. Henry
Cafe Stories is an anthology of 26 critically acclaimed stories by Jerry Guarino, previously published in magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain in 2011.
Like mysteries, these stories have twists and turns, unexpected consequences and surprise endings, much in the style of the great William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry). But instead of 19th century New York, the stories take place in contemporary New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The collection includes love stories, humorous accounts and even a few science fiction tales. Like O. Henry, Mr. Guarino's style appeals to a wide audience, men and women of all ages. Editors, publishers and authors around the world have high praise for his writing.
"His style is simple and consistently powerful, his storytelling a triumph of art over artifice."
Ben Price (Zouch Magazine and Miscellany)
"His writing is consistently fresh and inventive. His stories grab from the beginning, then hurl the reader into surprising and powerful endings. Definitely a must-read."
Earl Wynn (Thunderune Publishing)
"Each story is well crafted with the natural elegance of a natural writer...a real treat for the reader.
Scott Wilson (The Fringe Magazine)
"Jerry Guarino's Cafe Stories sends his readers on a merry chase through a wild array of micro/flash fiction--humor, satire, and pathos. He artfully captures gentle souls and slick cons, the high brows and their unsuspecting victims in characters that step from the page to engage the reader. Guarino finds the tiniest trait that creates zany folks the reader wants to protect or strangle. Often at the same time. Prepare for the surprise twist at the end. He gets you every time."
Myra McIlvain (Author of Legacy)
We think you'll find Cafe Stories a wonderful addition to your library, on a bookshelf or as an e-book on your computer or tablet. Relax in your favorite coffee house with this book. You'll be glad you did.
- The Devil's Orchestra
- Double Sting
- The Duke of Yelp
- First Love
- In the Mood
- The Love Beads
- Pie or Die
- Practical Goldberg (A Love Story in 3 Parts)
- The Tightrope
- Trick or Treat
- Coq a Doodle Do
- I am the writer; I speak for the programmers (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)
- Preheat the Microwave.Com
- The Rich are Going to Hell
- Traffic Stop with Annie Kim
- You Don’t Have to be High to Crave White Castles: A Rant
- The Waiting Room
- Operation ICU
- Under the Apple Tree
More O’ Henry style
- 30 Minutes of Hell
- 30 Seconds of Hell
- The Black Hole
- The Grand Poobah
- In and Out
- The Thief
Cafe Stories paperback ISBN = 978-1467962940
Cafe Stories kindle ISBN = 978-1-61914-4476-7
About the Author
Jerry Guarino is an author and teacher living in the SF Bay Area. His upcoming book, Cafe Stories, is an eclectic collection of 26 critically acclaimed short stories previously published by dozens of literary magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. He is the author of Cafe Stories, The Devil's Orchestra and The Chess Table. Here are a few reviews of his work: "Guarino's style is simple and consistently powerful, his storytelling a triumph of art over artifice." Ben Price (Zouch Magazine) "Jerry's writing is consistently fresh and inventive. His stories grab from the beginning, then hurl the reader into surprising and powerful endings. A must read!" Earl Wynn (Daily Love) "Each story is well crafted with the natural elegance of a natural writer." Scott Wilson (The Fringe Magazine) He is currently working on a murder mystery for the stage. Follow him on twitter @cafestories and his website http://cafestories.net