A Chat with Author Joseph Davida
Posted on January 31st, 2018
by Mayra Calvani in Entertainment, Literary News
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.
Well, Traveling High and Tripping Hard started out as a random collection of travel stories. They were really not connected to each other, and they certainly were not written with any kind of cohesive narrative. Once I became serious about trying to create an actual book, I realized there was one theme that tied everything together…the fact that I was searching for something. I was looking for answers to the big stuff—like where do we come from, and where are we going—all of the things that give meaning to life. Of course, I never really found the answers to any of these things, but at least some of the experiences I had during that period helped shape who I am today. If someone can read it and become inspired to get out and see the world on their own, I would consider it all a success.
Who is your target audience?
Ideally, I’d like the people who hold very conservative views, the people who’ve never left the small towns where they grew up to read it—but that will probably never happen. So, if I can’t change any minds, I guess I gotta stick with my base—musicians, backpackers, college students, psychedelic enthusiasts…you know, free spirits and progressive types. Probably the people who don’t go to church too much, and like to smoke pot.
What will the reader learn after reading your book?
Probably not too much. I wasn’t looking to educate people on anything as much as I’d like to hopefully entertain them. If there is anything to learn, it is subtle things…like realizing that we live in a big world, and not everyone sees things from a typically Ameri-centric perspective. With that exposure to things that are unfamiliar, I believe we begin to understand our own place in the world better, and hopefully gain a broader point of view. I’d doesn’t mean we all have to become hippy-dippy dreamers, but we can at least realize that the particular strain of nationalism that is on the rise, is a dead-end street. We are all far too interconnected these days to realistically believe any form of isolationism is going to be productive.
What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I’m generally not too interested in fantasy. Every once in a while, you will come across a writer like George R.R. Martin who writes so well, you can’t help but be captivated by it…but usually there is enough interesting stuff happening in the real world, where if it’s captured and conveyed honestly, will generally beat out any work of fiction. So yeah, I am definitely the type of writer who likes to write about my experiences way more than my fantasies. My fantasies are probably better portrayed by pornography anyway…
Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle with the most when writing? How do you tackle it?
The editing process. I hate editing. I can sit around for hours and just blather on about nearly anything, but when it comes time to read things back, I become obsessive, and start nitpicking everything. But ultimately, no one would be able to get through a manuscript with bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation…so it’s something that needs to get done. I generally just buckle down, tell myself it’s going to suck, and concentrate on the task at hand. When you finish it though, and can look at something that has really been polished, it is usually the most rewarding part of the process.
What is(are) your favorite book/author(s)? Why?
I like biographical works. And I find the dirtiest, and most hard-boiled stuff the best. As far as raw, honest writing goes, you are not going to find a book better than something like “Pimp” by Iceberg Slim/Robert Beck, or “Junky” by William Burroughs. Those guys weren’t just writing down stories, they lived the life. Anytime someone really lays it all down, the good and the bad, it is going to hit you in the gut a lot harder than someone who just writes beautiful, flowery prose, purely for the sake of putting words down on a page.
Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I do, I am currently working on some of the stuff I was doing when I was home in New York during the 1990’s, and early 2000’s. Since Traveling High and Tripping Hard pretty much details the things that were going on in my head when I was essentially on vacation, the new book will be a lot darker, and will go a lot deeper. Mental illness, betrayals, drugs, death…all kinds of good stuff. And although I’m sure it won’t be as heavy as any of Icebergs’ stuff, I hope people might, at the very least, find it entertaining.