Friday, July 13, 2012

Interview: Jonathan Marcantoni

Recently I was contacted by the wonderful Jonathan Marcantoni to review his novel Traveler's Rest. I was given the opportunity to also interview him and here are some Q&As about him and his newest novel.

When did you start writing Traveler's Rest?

Traveler's Rest was written between April 2005 and January 2006.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel?

I did have to do some research on Hurricane Katrina for the hurricane sequence and aftermath. I actually wrote that section during the Katrina catastrophe, which made the research much easier. I also had to research some about Puerto Rican history (though most of it I already knew, it was more a matter of name checking), and the general layout of Denver. The research wasn't especially vital because the story takes place in a sort of alternate universe, so I could play around with facts and history. For instance, the Boriken movement and the terrorist group Dark Horse are completely made up, although they have some basis in real movements. Also, the deaths of General Miles and Jose Celso Barbosa are also fictionalized, although the biographies of those two men are historically accurate.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing when I was 8 years old, and always loved it, but I had been doing theatre since I was six and until my late teens I primarily wrote plays and skits. I thought I was going to be an actor until around the time I started writing Traveler's Rest that I decided that writing would be my main focus. But I was always writing, regardless of what type.

Is there any particular character that you relate with the most?

Tony, he is sort of my alter-ego. I wrote the book when I was 20 and 21, and he reflects a lot of the internal struggles I had at the time. I was never a heroin addict, but the bitterness and distance he feels toward his family and some of his unhealthy attitudes toward women I shared at the time. Reading the book now I sort of cringe at his behavior, because its a reflection of some of the worse aspects of myself.

What do you want your readers to get from reading Traveler's Rest?

I hope the book inspires empathy. One thing this country is lacking more and more is empathy for those who can't hide their suffering. We are a nation that shies away from suffering, from admitting weakness. We go out of our way to boost people up to hide pain and failure, and when they can't hide it, we shun them. Whether its depression, addiction, poverty, or even just circumstance. I remember living in Atlanta after Katrina, and half the refugees where there, and the things I'd hear from people about the refugees was terrible and unjust. People would call them free-loaders, or say they got what they deserved for being too stupid to get out of the city. These people had survived a true tragedy, and got nothing but flak in return. The poor in this country are often seen as lazy or welfare cheats, rather than struggling individuals who have made one mistake too many. The same with addicts, instead of being treated as human beings they are seen as burdens. The real problems is that many people don't want to accept that we all struggle, and the ones who struggle most need the most support. I hope my book makes these people appear real, relevant, and worthy of respect and human dignity.

What was the most difficult part of writing Traveler's Rest?

Facing my own fears of expression, particularly with the political material. When I first wrote it I wasn't confident about sharing my passion for Puerto Rican independence, particularly since my family aren't supporters. I talked around the subject a lot in early drafts, and sort of made a situation with the Boriken movement that didn't portray independentistas in the best light, just to make me seem ambivalent toward the movement. But as I got older and more confident in my beliefs, the drafts of the books started bringing out more of that Puerto Rican pride and the message that preserving our culture and taking pride in it is of utmost importance became clearer. With the book out there I'll see how people respond, so far it has been positive and I haven't gotten flak for the political material, but I still have some nervousness about it. The material on depression was also difficult because that has been a problem that has affected myself and my family for several years, and the subject is still rather painful to explore. Exposing my beliefs and my struggles to the extent that I do has given me a love/hate relationship with the book.

Where can we find you online?

My blog where you can find essays on Traveler's Rest and tips on writing, freelance editing, and the publishing industry.

You can check out, a new independent press specializing in experimental literature. I am Editor in Chief at Aignos and I am always looking for authors and editors.

You can also look up the Traveler's Rest group on which has updates and info on the book.

Traveler's Rest is available on (

And from the publisher Savant Books and Publications (


  1. Hi, I found you on Goodreads (Lift your blog group)
    I am following you. Please follow me back.

    1. Well, first thanks for following, and I did follow back! :) Also congrats on almost reaching 300 followers!!