CC Standish is a Seattle based author and musician who grew up in the Twin Cities. As a college dropout and blue-collar worker, CC has learned a lot about the importance of a work/life balance, using his spare time to write on the side. Born into humble Minnesota beginnings in 1977, at an early age, the arts were CC’s chosen path over school and sports. Oddly enough, ’77 also marks the year that Elvis died, Star Wars was born and punk rock shook the world.
Fun fact: “The Customer” contains several characters and titles named after streets, parks, landmarks, bands, folklore and politicians from around the Twin Cities.
The Customer Is Always Wrong is the first book of a planned three-part trilogy focusing on protagonist Conrad (CJ) Jacoby coming of age in his late teens and evolving into his early twenties. Stay tuned for the sequel—“Ramprats”—which is sure to entail more wild and wacky misadventures from America’s new working class hero!
Tell us a little about yourself.
When I’m not writing, I’m typically either working or playing music (another of my interests). I’m a blue-collar guy, so most nights after working 9 to 5, I’m too wiped out to write. Weekends are mostly when I get the spare time to sit down with my laptop & pound out a few pages.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I had a terrible job working at the airport in Portland, OR (PDX) fueling airplanes. The job paid just above minimum wage, which I found strange considering the amount of responsibility the job carried. There was a lot of downtime in between flights, sometimes up to 2 or 3 hours if a plane was delayed, etc. This gave me a great opportunity to read a shit ton of books from authors I had never delved into: Vonnegut, Bukowski, etc. As a college dropout, I never had the opportunity to read all the lit 101 stuff. All I really had to go off of was books I read in high school, like To Kill A Mockingbird & whatnot. I took a few creative writing classes in high school & an intro to comp course in college, so I knew the basics about how to structure a story with a beginning, middle & an end, then I just built off of that using inspiration from the various authors I had read at PDX. Even though “The Customer is Always Wrong” is my first novel, I’ve been writing songs, poetry & short stories since I was 17 or 18. Nothing was ever published, but it kept my interest enough where whenever I have a spare minute, I can sit down with a pen + paper & get it out of my system, whether I had a bad day or if I’m simply inspired.
Is there an author or book that influenced you in any way?
Growing up I never read all that much. I think I might’ve had a mild form of ADD that went undiagnosed, because I could never just dive right into something like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. I was more into music & art. I remember my father had this cool art book with awesome paintings by Dali & the surrealist movement. I would flip through that & admire works like “Soft Construction With Boiled Beans” & “The Invisible Man” & just get lost looking into those pages. It wasn’t until high school when I read To Kill A Mockingbird & Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana that I finally started making connections with what I was reading & how I felt inside.
Where did you get the idea for The Customer is Always Wrong?
Much of what I write is fiction loosely based on my life experiences. In “The Customer” I very much modeled the protagonist Conrad after my 18 year-old self, then build on that. As the saying goes: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I find it’s best to root myself in something plausible, that others can relate to, whether it’s a weird situation or a crappy job. This puts the reader right in the book, because they’ve been there at before. I’ll leave the fantasy writing up to someone with more of an imagination.
What was your favorite part to write?
This book was so much fun to write that it’s tough to narrow down a favorite chapter or part. But if my feet were held to the fire, my favorite would have to be Chapters 18 & 19. This is where Conrad is a day away from moving out of his parents house after working all summer after graduating high school & saving up to leave the nest. On his way to work, he’s daydreaming about his apartment, about his freedom, about his life on his own when out of nowhere, he gets blindsided by some old lady, totaling his father’s car. I’m not gonna give too much away, but this sets the table for a showdown with his father on the eve of Conrad moving out. I get chills every time I read those chapters. It’s such a definitive moment in the book, but there are many more to come after that.
Is there a character or theme you’d like to revisit?
The core characters: Conrad, Minnie & Bryant will definitely all be in the next book. Beyond that, I’m not so sure. Like Stephen King says, “leave out the boring parts & kill your darlings” . . . heh heh heh. Guess you’ll just have to wait & see.
What drew you to this genre of writing?
New Adult is a magical age: it’s not too innocent, but it’s not old hat. Most people can think back to that age where you strike out on your own, or you go off to college. You have the world in your hands. You feel indestructible & open-minded. The world hasn’t crushed your soul or chewed you up & spit you out, so there’s an invincibility that I resurrect in the readers mind, which hopefully translates into the characters. At that age, you have so many possibilities & paths to go down. It’s naïve & curious, but confident at the same time.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m beginning a rough draft of the second book, “Ramprats.” Conrad is a little older, a little wiser, but still as much of a smart ass as ever. He’s feeling out new jobs & possibilities, maybe a new relationship here & there. He’s expanding his boundaries & taking more chances, building on his past experiences. I’m really excited to watch how this one unfolds!
Any advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
My only advice to anyone who has the ambition to become a writer is to be patient. This is a long life! Don’t feel the strain of competition, just go at your own pace & the words will find you. The Customer Is Always Wrong took me 4 years to write, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of that time. My favorite author, Charles Bukowski wrote his first novel, Post Office, in 3 weeks. He was also 50 years old at the time. Don’t join the rat race – pace yourself & never stop creating.
Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
I have a facebook page with only one like. For the love of god, please be my friend!
Now for a few fun questions…
Favorite TV show?
Favorite place to write?
My dining room table
If you had to choose just one book, what would it be and why?
Either “Factotum” by Bukowski or “Youth In Revolt” by CD Payne. These are the only two books on earth I could read from cover to cover, again & again without ever getting sick of them. They have so much influence on my writing & just me as a person.
Last book you finished?
Starvation Heights by Gregg Olson. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for the last decade, along with flannel shirts & coffee, serial killers tends to be a topic that continues coming up. This based on the true story of a self proclaimed doctor in the early 1900’s who believed the cure for everything was fasting to the point of starvation. Well, there were these two English (or were they Australian?) hypochondriac spinster debutantes who were obsessed with spanning the globe in search of new medical practices. As the story unfolds, the starvation doctor sets her trap & lures the spinsters, brainwashing them & nearly taking them for everything they had. It was a fascinating read! 5 stars, for sure.
Kim Gordon: Girl in a Band. When Sonic Youth disbanded 5 years ago, like many ’90s kids, I was pretty heart broken. Shortly after, indie rock power couple Thurston Moore & Kim Gordon (who formed the nucleus of Sonic Youth) divorced after 25 years together. This is a really fascinating read because Kim was so influential on female musicians, especially in bands. Now, it’s almost commonplace to see women in bands, but before the ’90s, rock’n’roll was a boys sport. Sure, there were random bands like The Runaways or The Slits, but nothing like it is in 2016. She writes in a way that you really get to know her. The first half of the book is more guarded, but as you turn the pages, she loosens up, making the reader do so as well. It’s not super pretentious either, like autobiographies tend to be. I’m about 3/4 the way through & I’m really enjoying it! She could’ve really bashed Thurston for their break-up, but she lets what’s unspoken haunt the readers imagination. Perhaps him living with his own cheating heart is all the justice that there needs to be.
Last question and possibility the most important…what brand of cereal best describes you and why?
Lucky Charms – because “they’re magically delicious!”
Don’t Miss The Customer is Always Wrong, Available Now!The Customer is Always Wrong by C.C. Standish
Published by Self Publish on 2016-01-15
Length: 271 pages
'90s grunge kid Conrad Jacoby is on the verge of graduating from Hiawatha High. Eager to leave the nest and his alcoholic Vietnam veteran father behind, Conrad joins the workforce where he tests his luck at minimum wage jobs in food service and retail, building his savings and his backbone with the goal of moving out. Although Conrad is determined, he quickly finds that his sheltered Minnesota upbringing has not prepared him for the life challenges and difficult personalities he will encounter in this coming of age comedy.