Archive | March, 2015

WIPs Conversation: Jamie Duclos-Yourdon on his work in progress

Jamie Duclos-YourdonJamie Duclos-Yourdon, a freelance editor and technical expert, received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. His short fiction has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Underneath the Juniper Tree, and Chicago Literati, and he has contributed essays and interviews to Booktrib. His debut novel, Froelich’s Ladder, will be released by Forest Avenue Press as part of its 2016/2017 catalog. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two children.

Jamie, this excerpt from Poor Henry finds the protagonist juggling new-father and house-husband responsibilities, which on this day include a “secret mission” to retrieve a family portrait. However, the normal excitement of his daily life is suddenly jolted by the appearance of a stranger outside his living room window, seeking safety. What was the genesis of the school shooting plot twist as you pieced things together?

School shootings have become so depressingly common in the United States, it didn’t seem far-fetched to imagine one occurring in Vancouver, Washington. For the purposes of Poor Henry’s narrative structure. I needed a definitive action to take place at the midway point. While the shooting itself doesn’t represent that action, it does create an environment in which the characters can meet, and their worst attributes can be brought to the fore.

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Jamie Duclos-Yourdon: an excerpt from Poor Henry


They’re late. They’ve been late for twenty-five minutes, crawling south on I-5. Henry would’ve called ahead to say they were coming, but he doesn’t have Dina’s number—they’ve only ever corresponded online. He might’ve sent an email from his iPhone, but they’re moving too fast to monopolize the use of his thumbs. So instead they’re just late, and not by a little. Gripping the steering wheel, he tries to ignore the dashboard clock.

As they pull up to Dina’s address (familiar from her description of the scorched grass), he spies a parking space. Turning off the engine, he stares across the street. In the driveway is an SUV. He’s under strict instructions not to park behind it, lest he block in the landlord. Henry’s understanding of the situation, as gleaned tangentially, is that Dina rents an artist’s studio behind the main property, as well as a bedroom on the second floor—the square footage of the former roughly equal to that of the latter, which must demand an economy of space.

For a moment, he and Peyton sit and listen to the cooling of the engine—waiting for what, Henry couldn’t say. The sight of Dina peddling past, pant leg cinched and head shaved bare? Or for the clock to read 10:00, a nice round number? They were supposed to meet before work, a concession on Dina’s part. Henry had the foresight to visit the bank yesterday, rather than add to his hectic morning. It had required numerous trips to the ATM to withdraw the eight hundred dollars, the price of his commission well exceeding the daily maximum.

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