Skip to content

An Interview with Jodi Lawaich

lawaich 1

Jodi Lawaich is a freelance copywriter living in Burlington. Jodi’s greatest production ever is her daughter, a freshly minted twenty-one-year-old college student majoring in Economics and Global Studies.

Jodi is currently a student in Fairfield University’s Masters of Fine Arts of Creative Writing program. In this program, she’s had the privilege of working with authors Eugenia Kim and Phil Klay. Jodi graduates at the beginning of January 2025.

You can find Jodi at various coffee houses and libraries in the Burlington area, or on walks where she stops to pet every single dog she can.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I began Homecoming as a short story. My very wise and honest advisor Eugenia said to me in the fall of 2023 that she believed I had a novelist in me. She was right.

The inspiration for the story came in a flash in January 2020. I was on campus at a previous program in Vermont when the first image of the main character Flannery came into my head. In the image, he was in a cemetery burying his father, crunching the snow under his black, shined dress shoes. From there, it began to unspool.

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

Titles are an interesting game with me. They either come immediately and easily or are utterly impossible. Thankfully, the word “homecoming” announced itself as soon as I began to write.

Describe your dream book cover.

Truthfully, I’m not sure! As someone who’s been in marketing her entire career, there needs to be elements in the cover design that allude to the place (a western Massachusetts factory town) and the relationship of the three now-adult siblings who are the top characters in the book.

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

I think folk rock would fit well with the characters in Homecoming—The Lumineers, Kings of Leon, Neil Young.

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

I just finished reading The Family Chao, a great book about an immigrant Chinese family dealing with the murder of their very difficult father. I’ve also read Anne Enright’s The Gathering, John Banville’s The Sea, and several short stories by Chekov, Cheever, and Grossman.

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

I’m a copywriter by trade, but I’ve been a bartender, medical courier, and taxi driver.

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

I’ve had a challenging relationship with my writing. It’s been a siren song for years and years, and for much of the time, I ignored it. As my daughter got older and more independent, I heard that siren song again and finally decided to answer it.

My biggest foray was participating in Goddard College’s graduate writing program first. I worked with incredible advisors there, including John McManus and Reiko Rahna. Unfortunately, a change in administration coupled with COVID-19 took a toll on the school, so I put a pause on my studies. I picked up the gauntlet again once COVID-19 abated, and after researching extensively, I applied to the Fairfield program and couldn’t be happier.

I can’t say a single person influenced me to write. I have a long list of authors I love, including Alice Munro, Amy Bloom, and Richard Russo. If I were to name one book that had the biggest influence on me, it’s The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Like so many others, I saw myself in Holden Caufield as a teenager and again as a young adult. I can only hope that my writing could ever touch people one-tenth of the way that Holden touched me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I like the library. It’s quiet and warm (I live in Vermont, so this is a plus), and there are lots of choices for seating. I need a quiet atmosphere to write, but I also like to see other humans. Sealing myself away in a room doesn’t help my creativity.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I can’t say I have specific rituals. To get going, I review what I last wrote so that I can edit and get into the groove. This typically leads me to the next fresh bit of writing.

I am learning I’m the kind of writer who puts down the bones of a scene and fills in some “meat” during the initial writing, but I do need to go back and typically add more. This likely comes from being a copywriter: writing thin and to the point. Fiction is very different; it offers latitude to dive into important details.

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

I hope the book resonates, whether people see themselves or the people they love in the book. The essence of the story is about a son connecting to his father after his father dies. As in The Family Chao, the father in Homecoming was not an easy guy to be around; emotional abuse abounded and the three siblings found their ways of dealing with it. So, my second hope for readers is to present the idea that we can heal from relationships, even if the person is no longer in our lives.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.