Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
“Nope, the name’s not short for Jason, and it’s not Jase with an s. It’s ace with a J,” explains October Member of the Month Jace Daniel Albao, whose father had a thing for cards. “He wanted to give his first born a name that rhymed with ace. I’ve done my best to substantiate his decision.”
This month SMITH readers learned how Albao’s father’s gambling habit determines more than just Albao’s name in his Moment “Pocket Cowboys,” which tells the story of his father’s card game on the night of Albao’s birth. “My old man had promised her he wouldn’t gamble again, but special occasions call for exceptions,” writes Albao. “After all, he was a new father, and it was a night to celebrate.”
In addition to posting a Moment and Six-Word Memoirs on the SMITH site, Albao has contributed to not one but two of SMITH’s publications. His memoir “To make a long story short…” appears in Not Quite What I Was Planning, and his memoir “Love at first sight is blind” can be found in Love & Heartbreak.
Recently, Albao took a few minutes to speak with SMITH from his Los Angeles home about his new novel, the ebook revolution, blogging, and Video Confessional Jams.
Name: Jace Daniel Albao
Town: Los Angeles, CA
SMITH member since: February 10, 2008
How did you first came to join SMITH?
In 2006 there was this little website called Twitter. A friend of mine forwarded me a contest they were sponsoring, conducted by SMITH. You had to write your entire life story in six words. I loved the idea, and just wrote down the first thing that came to my mind. That was that. A couple months later, I heard from a SMITH editor who informed me that SMITH got a book deal, and my memoir was to be included in the collection. I flew out to New York for the release party [see photo, above] that winter and met some great people. A year later, another one of my Six-Word Memoirs was included in the sequel on Love & Heartbreak.
Your blog includes these “Video Confessional Jams” that are totally off the cuff videos of yourself ruminating about everything from the death of your beloved dog Kona to “the drawer to the left of the oven.” You’re now at 149 videos and counting. What compels you to make these videos?
Remember those old things called landlines? I used to call my own landline and leave messages for myself to help myself remember things. The Video Confessional Jams are a way of capturing thoughts that would be lost in oblivion. The jams are about all sorts of things—a joke I don’t want to forget, a thought. I’m that kind of guy. I document things. I’m a blogger. I’ve been tweeting since 2006, and what is a tweet but 140 characters on your mind. You tweet it, and boom it’s gone. It’s not that anyone’s listening and reading, but now it’s out and you don’t have to worry about it. I don’t go back and watch my videos, and I don’t go back and read my tweets either.
Why do you think you have this impulse to share your thoughts and stories with others?
I’ve been online since ’96 or ’97, and I was always very stealth until five or six years ago. But in 2006, I started writing stories and sharing them with people. People were reacting and asking questions about them, and I decided you know what, I’m just going to pull the veil off and put it out there. I was realizing over the years that by being private, there’s so much that piles up in your head that it’s burdensome. Whether it’s a story, a huge piece of fiction in your head, or some witty thing that comes up, I found it’s worse to carry it around than to simply purge it and move on. Technology has made it so easy for us to put it out there. You can post it to your blog or to Facebook. Why not press a few extra buttons and throw it out there?
Your recently published novel started out as a series of blog posts. How did that go from blog to novel form?
I just published Under Angels as an ebook a few weeks ago. It’s a supernatural thriller and the result of a literary experiment I tried back in 2009. I wrote the story as a 26-chapter outline, with an epilogue, and needed to find a reason to flesh it all out. So as a New Year’s resolution, on my blog, I publicly committed to take my 26-chapter story and blog one chapter every other week for a full year. I called it a “blovel,” and put myself on a series of two-week deadlines, starting on January 1, ending on December 31. I figured that by the end of the year, if I was diligent enough to keep my vows, I’d at the very least have the story in front of me. So I could see the material. Then I’d go from there.
I finished the blovel on schedule, on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2009. After letting it sit for about six months, I took it offline, then revisited it and read it myself. I prepared the manuscript, finishing on Halloween, which is appropriate, since it’s a ghost story.
What are your thoughts on the ebook revolution?
I’m really stoked about what’s happening with ebooks. Since Sept 2010 Amazon has sold more ebooks than tree books. I guess it’s not all that surprising. It’s a really awesome time to be a writer. What’s happening in publishing reminds me about the time at the beginning of the internet. The thing about the internet was its immediacy. You put something up and boom it’s online right there and then. The idea of doing that with a book is really cool. I’m really excited to see where ebooks are going.
Have any literary heroes particularly inspired your writing?
Ray Bradbury. On my 40th birthday, I happened to meet Ray Bradbury. He was down here at the Warner Grand Theater. I was getting ready to go out and a friend of mine calls and says, “I don’t know what you’re doing right now, but Ray Bradbury is doing a signing.” On the bedside table, I had a cover of The Twilight Zone, and Ray Bradbury was on that team. He had a short story in that book. I jumped in the car with a marker. Ray was just finishing up watching a screening of one of his films. His assistant sort of wheeled him out. He just had this smile like he knew I wanted to meet him. He’s pretty old, and he couldn’t talk or sign his name very well, but we took a picture together. He was funny. He made this gang signal with his hands.
Finally, Jace Daniel Albao, what’s your Six-Word Memoir?
True. Life does begin at forty.