|Joshua Braff, Author|
THE DADDY DIARIES
THE UNTHINKABLE THOUGHTS OF JACOB GREEN
Joshua Braff uses both truth and fiction to bring us his THE DADDY DIARIES, a story about a stay-at-home dad who moves with his family from California to Florida where his wife has a new job. Braff’s family and his relationships with his family motivate his writing. Humor is crucial in his novels, and he considers flawed humans to be real.
Braff has written two other novels, THE UNTHINKABLE THOUGHTS OF JACOB GREEN and PEEP SHOW, and you can find his works in The Huffington Post. When he’s not writing, he paints large canvases with acrylic and oil, has sold his art, and has had two studios. He is currently working on his next novel.
Don't miss the giveaway opportunity following the interview.
Q: THE DADDY DIARIES concerns a family who moves from San Francisco to Florida, a situation that causes me to shudder (apologies to my friends who live in Florida. You know I’m a Californiaphile.) How did you conceive of such a plot? Is your novel based on real events?
Joshua Braff: Yes, I use both truth and fiction in my writing. This story was based on us, a family of four that left the SF Bay Area for St. Petersburg, FL, for a job. My wife’s job. I was and am the stay-at-home Dad in our life. When we arrived the kids were off to school, the wife to work and I was still wearing my Pacific Northwest jeans in the 106 degree weather. I bought shorts and found the best air conditioning I could fine. Starbucks. I started writing “pieces” about my observations of my children throughout their lives. From the perspective of a writer that focuses on the human condition and families, my creative well was full. The Daddy Diaries is the result. I love the book.
Q: You focus on family life in your books. Is this a theme that is especially important to you? Why?
Joshua Braff: When I began writing short stories in grad school in 1995, I saw the process as an art form only. The notion that I’d attempt to also get paid and contribute to a nest egg was not going to come from my “hobby” of writing tender sketches about Americans. When I got good at it the result was an ability to tap into fictionally structured moments that seemed to emit a level of importance. Perhaps literary importance. Moments like this to readers of short stories are rare and feed the soul well. So, the topic of family and relationships within the family is at the crux of all my motivations.
Q: Your reviewers mention how much they enjoy your use of humor. How helpful is it to tell your story?
Joshua Braff: Crucial, in novels. Not important in short stories. Again, short stories, to me, are pure art. Novels cannot be assessed without taking into account you’re selling them to a mass amount of people. The people have needs, focus group needs. I want to make them laugh, cry, giggle at sexual stuff we all face and recognize themselves in the sentences. I’ve always described my thoughts of structure to involve, humor, pathos, pace, and us much dialogue as I feel like. Dialogue can be funny just for sounding so real. My characters are partially “defined” in dialogue. I love when good characters speak in novels. Not everyone can write humor.
Q: Reviewers also claim that you “highlight both negative and positive points of the family.” How supportive are flaws or negative sides to building a relatable story?
Joshua Braff: I’d say I’m nothing without fully realized, three-dimensional characters. No human comes without flaws. My game is to make you see elements of your own real, adult life. So the warts are just as important as the porcelain skin. It won’t come off true if the characters are either mired in doom, or smiling all day long. The best day of your life is not the day I write about. But if I did, I’d be sure to recognize the moments in the fleeting perfection that remind us of our vulnerability.
Q: How do you create interest or suspense in a story about a family? What keeps your readers turning the pages?
Joshua Braff: I’d say the unknown. I’m in control with the “volume knobs” of the tempo and vibe of the moment. This too is earned in how you open the book and introduce characters. But when you write about kids and you draw them to be real, isn’t the reader now in a vulnerable spot, not yet knowing what happens to these kids you care about. Same with the adult characters. If you’re relating heavily to a character and I place her in a place of possible trouble, you’re going to turn the page to see what happens. We all come from family. I sometimes play with dangers that never come to fruition. The reader will turn pages, just to see if everything is going to be okay.
Q: Did you write THE DADDY DIARIES strictly to entertain your readers or did you also embed a message or two in the story?
Joshua Braff: I believe strongly in one’s ability to bring all of themselves to parenting. There is adequate parenting, detrimental parenting, a sort of “dial it in” vibe that comes off the American dad, etc. I am not perfect but I work at and construct ways in my mind to connect with my kids, now teenagers. I know they love me but are also in the process of finding their independence. This definitely involves rolling their eyes at me. My openness to being told, “You’re wrong, Dad,” is at the core of an ability that is lost on certain parents. People too caught up in the “life lessons” they feel must be imparted to attain decent citizens. Life is messier than that. Without the ability to forgive and be able to apologize, you’re just going to end up clashing. Because I’m a writer, home, I raised them both, hands on. I am a much richer person for the experience of raising my kids.
Parenting and marriage are not classes Americans are required to learn. P.E. is. Chemistry. I think people marry quickly to assuage their parents. I think people see weddings as a big-old-queen-for-the-day party but not the beginning of all that much. The parachute for getting out of marriage is as easy as getting out of bed. So, the institution of marriage reads as solid as our country’s infrastructure. Brittle at best. So, I’d say, there’s work to be done in appreciating that childhood is fleeting and culminates in adults that represent us as a people. Do better when they’re very young. Sew your oats so you’re not in competition with the babies you brought here with your loins. And yes, I Iove entertaining my readers.
Q: What tip[s] would you offer to ‘Dads’ about their role in the family?
Joshua Braff: Be both the alpha, the guy who takes the reigns when the lights go out. But also be the child you remember being. Join in on the silliness of our existence, the amazing and unique path of your children as they look to you for answers in your every move. Go easy on yourself, it’s very hard at times. But it’s one of those miracles that never stops to amaze. You and a once stranger made these babies. They stay babies for about 3 seconds. Now you’re looking at someone who may or may not be your friend. It’s up to you. It’s an opportunity to forge a life long relationship. Many people mess this up. Let the child grow to know she’s safe and always in a routine of unconditional love.
Q: You write for the Huffington Post as well as contribute to anthologies. What else have you written? Do you prefer writing articles, short stories, novels, fiction, non-fiction?
Joshua Braff: I love writing essays. The Huff Post likes my work so they post everything and then I use the links to reach anyone out there with an internet connection. I haven’t tried a short story in years. They are so fulfilling but there’s a strong sense, these days, that it won’t be read. The attention span is rough for pieces that open on a porch in Georgia. A question then arises, who cares? One day I will write creatively without the intention of posting or publishing. It will be for me, my friends and family. There will be something so freeing about it. It all began as an artistic outlet.
Q: What’s next?
Joshua Braff: Excited about the next novel. Haven’t ever been this excited to write. It’s related to my age, I think, and my success in taking control of the business end of my career.
Q: Tell us about Joshua Braff. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Joshua Braff: I paint large canvases with acrylic and oil. The genre is known as Color Field, Abstract Expressionism or The New York School. Pollock, Rothko, Christenson, Noland, Newman, Motherwell are some of the heavy hitters. I’ve sold pieces, had two studios and for months at a time have forgotten about writing completely. It is a respite from words. A very rich respite. I am also way into photography and music. I play guitar, drums and some piano.
About Joshua Braff
Joshua Braff is the author of three novels, THE UNTHINKABLE THOUGHTS OF JACOB GREEN, PEEP SHOW, and THE DADDY DIARIES, published May 5, 2015. THE DADDY DIARIES is a memorable take on contemporary fatherhood and a clear-sighted look at how the upending of traditional marital roles can affect the delicate balance of familial love. Braff's work can also be found in The Huffington Post and in multiple anthologies. He has an MFA from St. Mary's College and lives in Northern California with his wife and two children. Visit his website for more information.
About THE DADDY DIARIES
THE DADDY DIARIES is a humorous and poignant novel about a relationship between a stay at home dad and his two preteen kids. When his wife goes to work full time in a beach town in Florida, Jay must acclimate to life in the south. With a rich but stupid older brother, a lunatic townie friend and a teen son who’s ready to know what a “threesome” is, Jay’s world is thrown about as far as California to Florida.
1st Prize: Kindle Paperwhite plus ebook or paperback copy of The Daddy Diaries
2nd Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Daddy Diaries
3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Daddy Diaries