Cen­ter­ville’s Si­mon Ja­cobs rolls out de­but novel

Dayton Daily News - - LIFE - Sharon Short 7. Leonardo da Vinci 8. The Last Black Uni­corn

“Writ­ing ‘Palaces’ was a ran­dom process, to be hon­est,” says Si­mon Ja­cobs, a 2009 grad­u­ate of Cen­ter­ville High School, de­scrib­ing the cre­ation of his de­but novel.

“Palaces” was pub­lished Jan­uary 2018 by Two Dol­lar Ra­dio, a renowned in­de­pen­dent press based in Colum­bus.

“I be­gan writ­ing flash fiction (very short sto­ries) when I was 19 or so. Then I re­al­ized that many of these sto­ries had the same tone. Even­tu­ally, I had a book’s worth of sto­ries about dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the same char­ac­ters,” ex­plains Si­mon. But I still felt I hadn’t got­ten the char­ac­ters just right. So, ‘Palaces’ started as a tonal ex­per­i­ment — could I shape a story around these char­ac­ters in novel form?”

“The seed for ‘Palaces’ was a story in which two of my flash-fiction char­ac­ters came upon an aban­doned man­sion, with all of its grotesquel­y lux­u­ri­ous art and trap­pings,” Si­mon adds.

“I wrote this as a frag­ment and built out from there over four years. I started the book in 2013, when I was 22, and fi­nally con­sid­ered it fin­ished in 2017.”

The novel con­cerns John and Joey, a young cou­ple im­mersed in their lo­cal Mid­west­ern punk scene, who after col­lege move to an un­named north­east­ern coastal city.

Late one night, after the city de­scends into chaos, they take refuge in a phar­macy only to dis­cover the city is in riot.

They are the only pas­sen­gers on a com­muter train headed north, and at the fi­nal stop, dis­cover an area of aban­doned man­sions. The duo must then nav­i­gate a bizarre fu­ture.

The novel is al­ready gar­ner­ing top-notch re­views on Goodreads and from Fore­word Re­views, which calls it “ro­bust, both cur­rent and clair­voy­ant … a won­der­ful novel that takes no pris­on­ers.”

Si­mon made his first mark on the lit­er­ary world while still in col­lege, with his unique lit­er­ary con­coc­tion, “Safety Pin Re­view,” with brief sto­ries pub­lished both on­line and as wear­able lit­er­ary art pinned to the back of jack­ets by vol­un­teer “op­er­a­tives.” No­table lit­er­ary fig­ures such as Mar­garet At­wood and Sher­man Alexie tweeted and blogged about “Safety Pin Re­view.”

At just 23, his first story col­lec­tion, “Saturn,” a col­lec­tion of David Bowiein­spired short sto­ries, was pub­lished by Spork Press; his other short story col­lec­tion is “Master­works,” pub­lished by In­star Books, and his other fiction has ap­peared in Tin House, Black Warrior Re­view, Joy­land and Paper Darts.

He lives in New York City, where he works for Tay­lor & Fran­cis Group: Rout­ledge, as com­mis­sion­ing edi­tor on the Fo­cal Press/Rout­ledge film­mak­ing and video list.

Si­mon’s mom hap­pens to be Martha Moody, a lo­cal author of lit­er­ary, best-sell­ing nov­els such as “Best Friends” and “Sharp and Dan­ger­ous Virtues,” to name just a few. (Learn more about her nov­els at www.marthamood­y.net.)

“Hav­ing a mom who is a writer is ab­so­lutely an in­flu­ence,” ob­serves Si­mon.

“I have a great model to fol­low in her, both be­cause she writes well­re­searched and point­edly ob­served books — I’ve read and loved them all — and be­cause of her process.

‘Two para­graphs a day’ has long been her mantra, and I’ve wit­nessed her at­ti­tude about putting her­self in her writ­ing chair and mak­ing some­thing on a steady ba­sis no mat­ter what is hap­pen­ing else­where in life, rather wait­ing to feel in­spired. This ap­proach was for­ma­tive to me as a writer.”

Si­mon’s path to pub­lish­ing is also in­for­ma­tive.

“Two Dol­lar Ra­dio was the first in­die pub­lisher I knew about. I be­gan reading their pub­li­ca­tions while I was in col­lege.

It was an awak­en­ing for me. See­ing who they pub­lished, and which lit­er­ary mag­a­zines those writ­ers had shorter works in, led me to read those pub­li­ca­tions as well.”

Si­mon sub­mit­ted a fi­nal draft of “Palaces” to Two Dol­lar Ra­dio in 2015, not re­ally ex­pect­ing an of­fer.

By the time a year passed and he hadn’t heard back, he as­sumed that the pub­lisher wasn’t in­ter­ested — but then he re­ceived an email of in­ter­est.

He met with the pub­lisher at the AWP (As­so­ci­a­tion of Writ­ers & Writ­ing Pro­grams — www.aw­p­writer.org) con­fer­ence and soon enough after that, had a pub­lish­ing agree­ment with Two Dol­lar Ra­dio.

“For peo­ple in­ter­ested in start­ing to en­gage with on­line/in­die lit, I’d rec­om­mend just steep­ing your­self in on­line flash and short fiction — there are tons of great places out there, like Joy­land (short fiction with a re­gional fo­cus); Paper Darts (tonally di­verse art and lit, mostly by women); Smoke­long Quar­terly (flash fiction); Ho­bart (fiction and non of all va­ri­eties), just to name a few. And a lot of the pres­ti­gious print jour­nals — like Tin House, Kenyon Re­view — all have on­line com­po­nents and ar­chives that you can dive into,” says Si­mon.

“Be­sides Two Dol­lar Ra­dio, some of my fa­vorite in­die book pub­lish­ers are Dorothy, Tin House Books, Spork Press, Melville House and Soft Skull.”

And for those in­ter­ested in Si­mon’s work and learn­ing more about him, visit www.si­mon­a­ja­cobs. blogspot.com

UP­COM­ING LIT­ER­ARY EVENTS

■ Tues­day, Jan. 30, 7 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene — Pop­u­lar chil­dren’s author Gor­don Kor­man will in­tro­duce “Su­pergifted,” the se­quel to his suc­cess­ful kids’ novel, “Ungifted.”

■ Fri­day, Feb. 2, 7-8:30 p.m. Wright Memo­rial Pub­lic Li­brary, 1776 Far Hills Ave., Oak­wood — Writ­ers’ Café, a ca­sual hang out for writ­ers ages 18 and up and of all ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els, meets the first Fri­day (7:00 p.m.) and third Sun­day (at 2:30) of each month.

■ Wed­nes­day, Feb. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Oak­wood Star­bucks, 2424 Far Hills Ave. — Word’s Worth Writ­ing Cen­ter (www.wordsworth­day­ton. com) of­fers “First Wed­nes­day Writ­ing Work­out” with author and cre­ative writ­ing in­struc­tor Ka­t­rina Kit­tle. These ses­sions will of­fer writ­ing prompts, the time to ex­plore them, a mini-craft les­son, loads of tips, and the op­por­tu­nity to share im­promptu pieces. See the web­site to reg­is­ter.

Sharon Short (www. sharon­short.com) is a nov­el­ist and di­rec­tor of the An­ti­och Writ­ers' Workshop. Con­tact Sharon with news about your book club or or­ga­ni­za­tion. Email: sharon­[email protected] sharon­short.com. Twit­ter: @ SharonGSho­rt Pat­ter­son 6. The Wis­dom of Sundays Oprah Win­frey Had­dish Wal­ter Isaac­son Tif­fany

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Palaces was pub­lished Jan­uary 2018 by Two Dol­lar Ra­dio, a renowned in­de­pen­dent press based in Colum­bus, Ohio.

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