• steelhousereview

Meet the Editors: J.D. Wolfwrath

Updated: Jan 17

Hey J.D., tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in the Midwest, moved from the Rockies to the Great Plains when I was pretty young. Small town kids really don’t like new kids, so being bullied became a nice past time for a few years. It made me stronger in many ways though, and my family is amazing, so I’ve been blessed. Now I am in a hot desert in the Middle East. It often reminds me of that old level in Super Mario where the sun is trying to kill you… but all too real. Professionally, I am a teacher, project manager, and an IT nerd.

Sounds like you’ve travelled around quite a bit. What hobbies and passion projects have you picked up along the way, outside of Steel House Review and writing?

Why do these questions feel like a set up for eHarmony? Are we a literary journal or a dating service? Jokes aside, I love music, getting outdoors, and martial arts. I could list many more, but my interests are a bit too varied I think to be practical to list. Ultimately, I love to learn.

Well...Can’t it be both? If this was a dating profile, here’s the most important question: How do all those personality tests - created by someone who doesn’t know you - define you?

Enneagram Type: What’s the Enneagram? Is that the one that assigns you a color? Crimson - definitely crimson.

Myers Briggs: INTJ (High Functioning Sociopath)

Astrological Sign: Who knows, it’s not like it’s real anyway… *cue spooky, but strangely hopeful electronica music*

And as a…“crimson Enneagram”...what’s your go-to food order?

I am going to go Waffles. Chicken and waffles if I can find it, but ordering waffles, and then a side of odd fried chicken stuffed with cheese at a crossover Middle Eastern fusion restaurant is not the same. It’s a trap. You were warned.

Oof, duly noted. So we love lifelong learning at SHR. How do you promote your own growth outside of an academic setting?

Teaching myself to play instruments, trying to learn about quantum mechanics, studying a bit about clinical psychology, specifically criminality in an attempt to buttress support for my theory that a nation’s primary criminal elements are good foils for its predominant political system. I also like to bake. My Butterscotch Pecan cookies are to die for.

Sounds mouthwatering and a lot better than middle eastern chicken and waffles. You may be a great baker, but what’s something you’ve failed at?

Writing… Why do you think I am an editor? *cue laughter*

What a seamless transition, let’s talk writing…

Image similarities to any person living or dead, or any vast expanse of endless wastes in existence or fictional was entirely purposeful. Be offended. Be very offended. Just please bring me a parasol so my laptop doesn’t overheat.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been reading, since my earliest memories. I actually recall my mother reading to me and me getting upset that she read too slowly, so I took the book from her to read it myself. I think the word for that type of behavior is “precocious.” I also love telling stories and words in general. Writing came as a natural outflow of those things. Honing the craft from my angsty pre-teen and teenage years to something I can be proud of - that’ll be my life’s work.

As long as you don’t bring the angsty teenage music along with it. What did you study in school?

Nothing wrong with a little Nirvana while you read Paradise Lost. Though I did graduate to Pink Floyd as I studied English Literature in college. I have a BS in English though, essentially a minor in engineering. I also minored in Philosophy and Japanese. My MA is in English Literature as well.

A Renaissance man. How did such a creature come into the SHR family?

Kicking and screaming, but now I am strangely comfortable with it.

Yep, we trapped you well. Why did you choose to be an editor for the poetry and nonfiction genres at SHR?

I kind of fell into both. Not like how people fall into love. It’s more like how a toddler falls over on a muddy, rainy day. There is a stunned silence, like the world has ended, but then he starts laughing and slapping his hands in the puddle. It just seemed fun. But the adults always think you’re crazy.

What a great metaphor for our madness. What’s the most common issue you find in submissions that results in a rejection letter?

Not following directions. It’s real simple folks, follow the directions. Otherwise you are just giving me a reason to ignore you on the way to the next submission.

What’s your favorite book, story, or poem…or essay...or author?

Man, could we pick one question at a time? Also why are we asking the last question anyone who loves reading and writing is capable of answering? My favorite book/story/poem/essay/author is whatever strikes me at that moment in life - whatever season I am in. C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Cormac Mcarthy’s The Stonemason, T.S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” Billy Collins “The Money Note.” Shakespeare, Milton, Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, Claude McKay, Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, Benjamin Busch, Brian Turner, Suzan-Lori Parks and on and on and on. I could list name after name of nameless masses many have never heard of, some of them who’ve submitted to this journal, who, even if they didn’t make the cut for publication, haunted me with a line, a phrase, a story, a well-placed word that fired my imagination and made me want to write more - to be more. What’s my favorite? Whatever ignites the spark of life the Lord gave me.

*Types multiple lines of text into phone note* Great reading list. Now let’s move on to your own writing. What kinds of things do you write about?

Right now:

A self-help book the title of which is a closely guarded secret. Hint - self-help books are selfishly unhelpful.

A treatise on a new paradigm (or old) for conceptualizing cybersecurity.

A collection of poetry about mundane everyday objects.

A four book fantasy novel series - currently on book two.

Are there any essential items you keep in your workspace or with you when you write?

Writing isn’t totemic for me. It’s not channeling the power of bourbon, or a family heirloom, or a particularly hanging wall painting. It’s all of those and none of those. It’s playing with ideas. So to be frank, no. There is no essential item that I keep in my workspace - not even the computer I normally write with. Entire sections of my novels were written on legal pads, or in notebooks, three ring binders, even the notes app on my phone, and incorporated later. There is, however, an essential state of mind. For me to write, I require a living curiosity - which is thankfully easy to find. The world is full of things and people that interest me. I suppose sometimes I am inspired by my environment, but very rarely do I fixate on the same object more than once or for more than one narrative. I am too scatter-brained for that - always on the hunt for the next story.

There you go friends, if you’d like to be more like J.D., relocate to the desert wasteland nearest you. To finish off the interview, what do you wish you had known when you started out?

When I started out what? Life? I wish I had known everything, but that would’ve spoiled life. I suppose, I wish I knew how much fun it can be to not know a damn thing and go on adventuring anyway.

Follow J.D. Wolfwrath, desert sand and all, on Instagram.