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A Worthwhile Journey: An Interview with Dwight Jesmer, author of Doing Time in California

Jesmer 1

Dwight Jesmer grew up an Army brat in a life of perpetual motion. He went to seven schools before finishing high school at Punahou in Honolulu, Hawaii. He graduated from Loyola Marymount and then spent a decade working in the film and television industry in Los Angeles. He left the smog of L.A. for the fog of San Francisco to work on his Masters in Writing from USF. He got into teaching and worked for almost two decades in the trenches of education.

You can buy Doing Time in California here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I had the title from the beginning because I knew a major theme was going to be about time and my protagonist was going to break out of jail to start his journey to redemption.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

When I first saw the cover of my book, I sincerely got tears in my eyes. I thought, “I hope people judge my book by its cover!”

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

My dad got me into reading when I was very young. He was a voracious reader and an inspiration. When I was in high school I saw Paul Verhoeven’s movie, Turkish Delight, which was like a Dutch version of the American popular movie Love Story, only the sex was hot and when the female lead got cancer she wasn’t afraid to look like she was sick and dying! That’s when I started writing screenplays. Jim Harrison is my favorite author and my inspiration for trying to write a novel.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

A couple of things most of my readers wouldn’t know about me is that I went to high school in Hawaii with Barack Obama (I knew him as Berry), and I lived across the hall from Jerry Seinfeld in New York City when I was trying to get my play produced. I only met him in the elevator once—unfortunately I wasn’t the next Kramer.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I went on a “book tour” of California and got to see friends and family, some that I hadn’t heard from or seen in decades!

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I do have a playlist of songs from the novel on my website:!

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope they feel like they went on a worthwhile trip across the California delta and that it wasn’t a waste of their time.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m working on a memoir called Army Brat, a YA novel called Instajohn, and an untitled screenplay that takes place at the Point Bonita lighthouse near San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Atmosphere Press literally made one of my dreams come true. Just like not every movie is produced by a major studio, not every book is published by one of the Big 5, or Big 6. I’ve already told friends who write about my wonderful experience with the people who work at Atmosphere Press.

You can buy Doing Time in California here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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