Joseph Chinnock: The Business of Being a Writer

Joseph Chinnock understands that in order to tell tales for a living, you need to have fully experienced life. You can’t sit back and watch it go by from a windowsill. He has done much more than watch it, pressed up against the windowpanes. Chinnock is a freelance journalist who has written about sexuality, culture, the arts and Asia. His love of Asia began early, during his sophomore year in college while he traveled solo to Nepal and finished both the Annapurna and Everest treks. He then took a one-day course on Buddhism at Kopan Monastery. A monk graciously invited him to stay for several weeks and Chinnock spent his time intently studying Buddhism, meditation and yoga. He was deeply touched by the kindness and openness of the monks, and when he returned to the USA Chinnock changed his major to South East Asian Studies. He went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude.

Joseph Chinnock Writes The Alchemy of Nourishment

Chinnock’s most recent book, The Alchemy of Nourishment certainly is inspired by his own personal spiritual journeys exploring Buddhism. It is the story of a post-Catholic, B minus Buddhist who joins a cooking class in “new age-y” Boulder, Colorado. The teacher is a Wise Woman who is quite charismatic but has a dark past and a precocious teenage daughter. The story soon stirs up a love triangle that pushes the ultimate limits of deep hungers, food, love, the meaning of betrayal, the descent into madness and the desire for revenge.

While this is a first novel, Joseph Chinnock is an experienced fiction writer who has been published in well-known and highly respected literary journals including The Gettysburg Review, The Santa Clara Review, The Southeast Review and The Dirty Napkin. Chinnock was awarded a month-long Colorado Art Ranch residency. He is the director of A Writers’ Collective, a consortium of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates.

He is an accomplished short story writer. Joseph Chinnock’s stories are filled with multidimensional characters who confront deep emotions and must often make serious decisions. These tales, while not “morality tales” in the strictest sense of the word, do remind the reader of the value of reaching for the greater good, even when faced with the most difficult of circumstances or the darkest of days.

Legally Ted is one of those stories and was published in The Dirty Napkin. It is the story of a parole who has trouble keeping his cool ’til he meets Ted in a group and must face some of his true emotions, including guilt, regret and rage, all while facing up to his own fears of a lack of eventual redemption.

Grinding Machines was published in The Gettysburg Review and is the story of a man who is quite desperate. Joseph Chinnock tells the take of a man offered freedom by someone he cannot quite trust and of the conversion of the great Tibetan saint Milarepa – in a modern way.

The Great Game is the story of an Indian Sherlock Homes like character called Sonam Singh. Singh uses Hindu to help solves crimes in the timeless city of Varanasi. His assistant and his long-suffering wife, Parvati assist him as well. Chinnock tells a tale about Indian culture as his character Singh works for the post office and travels far and wide to help solve crimes. This character also learns about the nature of the British culture which colonized so much of the East and the Indian culture which attempted to rally the challenge.

Bottleneck is a story about a polyamorous female orinthologist that collects male specimens as she travels. She is researching the Bottleneck hypothesis. The Bottleneck hypothesis is the thought that the human race was narrowed to just a few thousand people following a tremendous worldwide catastrophe. The survivors underwent an incredible experience, as they used ingenuity, fertility, aggression and mobility to survive. But as the pressures of the ornithologist’s work deepen, her own “bottleneck” becomes quite likely.

Break is the story of 2 men in deep conflict. One who fights for his future and the other who is attempting to escape his past. They discuss truth, the past and the best way to cook roast beef among other things.

Jordan is Joseph Chinnock’s story about a man who is on the run and who is stopped by his car crashing. He is confronted with his own failings and is helped by people who care about him – from people who know him well such as his maternal grandmother to those who don’t such as an inn-keeper and a couple while his life is in jeopardy.

Chinnock’s stories put people in conflict or serious circumstances who then must decide what is the best thing to do. While admittedly they don’t always choose the right action, the reader can see the hero’s dilemma as they work diligently towards the solution they think will be “right.” In reading one of Chinnock’s stories, one could easily be reminded of any hard choice they have had to make, or could be making at the time. His studies in spirituality and Buddhism are never far behind when exploring each of his tales. And his never-ending sense of adventure, exploring different worlds in his fiction is easily reflected in his own life, when after graduating from college he rode a motorcycle to New Orleans and then on to Belize City. He then sold the bike for a one-way ticket to Thailand. It is clear when turning the pages in a Joseph Chinnock story that you are being taken on an adventure – by a true adventurer!