Jon grew up outside Seattle, State College, PA., and Columbia, Maryland. His parents both have fine art and art education degrees and life was often like an extended art class. At an early age, Jon read and admired Buckminster Fuller and spent countless afternoons listening to his parents Jack Benny albums. In 1986, after finishing a Liberal Arts degree at the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to New York and worked at a Japanese travel agency for several years and later had a sort stint with Pan Am before the airline went bankrupt. Subsequently, he became a temp and gradually taught himself graphic design. As a graphic designer, he worked for such companies as United Media, Young & Rubicam, Archie Comics, HBO, and many others. He currently lives in Queens, New York with his wife and child.
Jon and his dad were The LoungeBots, an electronica band featured in such magazines as Future Music and Mixer.
Yarn — Trade Paperback ISBN : 978-1-59780-210-9 Pages: 309 Price: $14.95
Grey — Trade Paperback ISBN : 1-59780-065-1 Pages: 248 Price: $14.95
1. Who published Grey and Yarn?
The very cool guys at Night Shade Books. They have been extremely supportive and generous with me and my work.
2. Are any of the characters in Grey and Yarn based on real people?
The protagonist of Yarn was inspired by a clothing store owner in Japan. In fact, it was at that time that the concept behind my books was born.
I spent my junior year of college in Kobe, Japan studying at Konan Daigaku and living with a home-stay family. As winter came that year, I found that the one medium weight coat I packed was insufficient. I headed to the middle of the city to a mall in Sannomiya. Most of what I found I didn’t like, and the rest didn’t fit. Then around a corner, I came to a mens store that featured nothing but black, white, and grey clothes. The minimalism appealed, especially the idea that if my wardrobe were monochromatic no matter what I put on would match. The store owner was patient with my halting Japanese and I found a long black coat that I loved. Over the year, I bought a number of new things and became interested in clothes. The store owner was named Sugimoto, which translates as “origin or roots of the cedar.”
3. How long did it take you to write Grey and Yarn?
2. Grey took a long time. It began as a short story in a writing workshop with Chuck Kinder at the University of Pittsburgh. Once I returned from Japan (see above) and finished college, I completed the first draft of the novel. Much of the book’s structure remains the same, but what changed over the intervening twenty-five years (!) and many rewrites were my writing skills. As I have heard some other authors say, it takes a half dozen aborted novels to get it right.
Yarn went a little faster, but I did have about a year and a half of work that I had to throw out.
4. What are your favorite books?
My favorites include: Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair, Kobo Abe’s the Box Man, Witold Gombrowicz’s Kosmos, Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Jonathan Lethem’s Gun with Occasional Music, and J. G. Ballard’s Crash are a few that come to mind.