John Dufresne teaches at FIU and is a realistic fiction novelist. His novel No Regrets, Coyote reads as a crime mystery throughout south Florida where Wylie “Coyote” Melville works as a therapist as well as a crime consultant for the police department. Dufresne describes his main characters as Coyote the Trickster.
In between teaching he writes poetry for magazines or newspapers, none of it has been collected or published in a book as of yet. He has written five novels, two short stories and three chapter books on creative writing. John has participated in many of the Miami Book Fair International as an author, “I love it, it’s great, a highlight of the year!”
What inspires you to write (generally)? “I became a writer because I was a reader first, I especially loved reading fiction… I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. When I read a good book I felt like I was carried away into another world, and I wanted to do that for our readers.”
How do you enjoy teaching? “I love it, I teach graduates and undergraduates in a creative writing program… every class is always a whole new experience. Every class has a different dynamic, every class is a whole new show. Because I’m always reading their work…. all of that goes to me being a better reader and writer as well.”
What have you learned from your students? “How important writing is, that it’s something a lot of people aspire to that think it’s important. That reading is important, that if you’re going to be a writer you need to be a reader. A lot of my students bring books to me that they love, it opens worlds to me. I never read much fantasy or science fiction… and what they’ve done is bring me the good ones and it’s opened my world in terms of fiction too and it hasn’t quite effected my writing yet but it will, once I understand it a little bit better. I’ll still write realistic fiction but I might let other elements seep in.”
About the book from John: “Coyote the trickster…what I did was in that one is that’s the first crime novel/thriller I’ve written. With people interested in crime novels I thought I’d give it a shot, so I tried it, and I just wrote the second one. I’m getting the notes back from my editor today, it’s a sequel.”
What do you hope your students take away from you at the end of class? “That if you’re serious about writing you need to make it a priority in your life, you have to write every day and read all the time. Some days it might just be five mins, that’s okay it counts. You’re keeping your antenna up, for the rest of the 23 hrs and fifty five mins and you’re telling the world that you are a writer, and that you’re looking for material. Don’t expect too much from your first draft, that’s when people get frustrated, oh it’s too hard! Yeah it’s hard, but if you keep writing and you being to understand the writing process it’s the first draft the tenth draft, and once you understand that you’ll stick with it. Write about what’s important to you, if you do that you won’t stop writing.”
What was collaborating on Naked Came like, as one of 13 authors? “It was kind of fun, it was number 11 I think, I was on a book tour that summer. I asked for one at a later date, that way I was able to read. It was published every week at the Miami Herald, in Tropic Magazine, that’s not around anymore. I was able to read and take notes for ten weeks, to formulate an idea. We had two weeks to write our section, by then I had an idea of what I wanted t do. It was very pleasant to see how other writers brought in their characters from their books, I played around and killed off a few.”
How does someone, who had never considered writing get into the mindset to become a writer? “Don’t start out wanting to write a book, it’s to daunting. Read a lot of stories, read them twice. Let them happen the first time, and then if you liked it go back and find out how the author got you to feel that and try to figure out how or what the narrative techniques were, how they got you to love that character. I also used to write out the stories that were published, I’d read the Hemingway story and I’d be writing it out just to feel what it was like to do that, just to imitate. Then I’d just write my own story along with their story, if they changed something I’d change something, if they switched point of view I’d switch POV. Eventually you start writing your own stories but it comes from imitating others.”
For anyone wanting to know more about his works check out his website, created and maintained by his lovely wife.
His works can also be found on amazon as well as thriftbooks.com
A big thank you for John sitting down with me for a short Q&A at the Miami Book Fair International 2014
He was such a sweet man, very easy to talk with and I look forward to taking his creative writing class at FIU should I transfer there in 2016.