For the next few weeks, as we approach the April 8th release of A Family by Any Other Name, I’d like to introduce you to some of the book’s contributors.
Jeffrey Ricker is a writer, editor and graphic designer living in St. Louis, Mo., but who currently resides in Vancouver, where he is pursuing a master of fine arts in creative writing at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of “Operation: Baby.”
How did you find out about this project?
Gosh, it’s been so long, I honestly don’t remember. The memory really is the first thing to go! This is why I keep copious notes.
Why did you decide to contribute? How did you decide what to write about?
If I boiled it down to one sentence, it would be, “Write where you feel uncomfortable.” In slightly more than a sentence: I never really considered my own life in the framework of family. Yes, I have parents and a brother, but making a family of my own? It was something I never figured was in the cards. But in a lot of ways, I think as queer people we make our own families, and this was an example that I wanted to note and, in a way, celebrate.
Tell us a bit about yourself, both your life and your writing experience.
I’m currently a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. I’m also the contest manager for PRISM international, the literary magazine that’s been published by the program since 1959. In addition to a bunch of short stories, my first novel, Detours, came out in 2011 and my second novel, a YA fantasy titled The Unwanted, comes out in March.
Did writing about your own experiences prove challenging in any way?
Yes and no. One of the things that makes my partner antsy is the idea of people reading my fiction and thinking it’s about me when it really isn’t. In this case, I really was writing about my own experiences, so I wanted to be as honest and truthful as possible. I spent some time doing research, as well as a lot of time reading through my old journals. I also wanted to celebrate the truly amazing friends that I write about in this essay, so that was a responsibility I took to heart as I was writing.
What did you get out of writing an essay for this collection?
That family is more important to me than I realized.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like readers to know about?
Among other things, I’m working on a follow-up to The Unwanted, I’m finishing a science fiction novel, and I’ve got a third project that’s in the early stages. I’ll keep you posted!