Interview with J.P. White, author of 'Every Boat Turns South'

In the last 35 years, J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College in Fine Arts. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Jay. Can you tell us how long you've been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Every Boat Turns South?

I've been working as a professional writer for over 30 years. I've written journalism, movie and theater reviews, as well as book and magazine promotion and everything in between including poetry. About ten years ago, it dawned on me that poetry would not allow me to tell all the stories I had in me -- so I took my skills as a writer and started learning how to write

Q: I love your title. Can you tell us why you chose it?

South is direction we all find sooner or later. The body turns south. Life turns south. And in my story, the boat turns south. Matt Younger, the protagonist of my novel, is hired to deliver a boat south from West Palm Beach to St Thomas in the British Virgin Islands. Matt's own life went
south, literally and figuratively, years ago and now he has returned north to make a confession to his dying father. And finally, as the body wears out and dies, it too goes south.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

My story has been called a cross between Ordinary People and Body Heat, but at its core it's very much a story of guilt and redemption and that one pivot point gives Every Boat Turns South more of a universal appeal.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, The Permanent Press, have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

Lon Kirschner is a wonderful designer and has worked with The Permanent Press for years, maybe since the beginning thirty years ago. He had several ideas, but when I saw the that showed stormy clouds above an angle of sail, I knew his art would strike a chord.

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

I've worked with a couple of publicists, but mostly I've found that you just have to dig in and make something happen yourself.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

One reviewer has compared me to John D. Macdonald and I'll happily accept that comparison, but frankly I didn't set out to write a mystery. I intended to write a good novel that had a mystery in the middle of it.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Matt Younger, the protagonist, has just made a very poor decision to steal $2 million dollars worth of cocaine from a drug pilot named Jimmy Q.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

There will be three other books in the Matt Younger series, but at the moment I'm working on an historical novel set during Prohibition entitled, Whiskey and Hard Water.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Jay. We wish you much success!

J.P. will be on virtual book tour May 3 – June 25. Visit his official tour page at Pump Up Your Book to find out more about his exciting new book, Every Boat Turns South. Amazon or Barnes & Noble are the best way to obtain your copies, although it will be available to order in most bookstores. You can visit J.P.’s website at for more information about the book.
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