The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Diamond in the rough

Photo by || Kimberly Washington || [email protected]

Life hasn’t been all that kind for  Josh Fernandez. Then again, maybe it’s turned out OK for the writer who once struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

A former City College student and now acclaimed local writer and poet, Fernandez describes his passion for writing as, “Frustrating, infuriating, depressing, maddening, insane and horrible—but it’s not hard.”

Fernandez, like most students, didn’t know what else to do but to go to school. He grew up in Boston, Mass., moved to California at age of 13 and says he didn’t like school. He spent most of his time at libraries. He was disruptive and got kicked out of school for fighting.

Fernandez says he never regretted his decisions and at the same time maybe he regretted everything. All he wanted to do was use his life experiences to his advantage, and that is why he writes. His most recent published book is a collection of original poems called “Spare Parts and Disbursement”.

“I’ve been able to write about my life in a way that might help people figure out what they’re doing with their lives,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez is a freelance writer and is currently working with multiple organizations such as Spin Magazine, Sacramento News and Review, San Antonio Current, Boulder Weekly and Hartford Advocate. During his first two years at City College in 2001, Fernandez interned with a skateboarding magazine called Heckler.

At the start of his career, he put together a clipbook and had the opportunity of landing a job at the Sacramento News and Review. After building up his portfolio, he was offered a chance to write for Spin Magazine.

“That helped get my name out there,” said Fernandez. “Once you have bylines in big enough publications, people start to pay attention.”

Fernandez says he is intrigued by realism and reading the works of “old, Russian authors, the dead ones” such as Dostoyevsky.

“Sometimes I write ridiculous fiction or surrealist poetry. I just write because it’s fun and part of that fun is knowing that there are no rules,” Fernandez said.

The first class he took at City College was English 1A, now known as English 300, with English Professor Jan Lee.

“She took me from being an addict to a student just by keeping me interested in writing,” Fernandez recalls.

“He really, already knew how to write because he read, read, read,” said Lee, who has known Fernandez since his first semester at City College. “One time I did say to him, how is it that you’re such a good writer and he said because I read so much growing up.”

Lee remembered thinking that she always knew she would one day be going to one of Fernandez’s readings.
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“He had the drive, he had the desire, he had the raw material at being such a good reader, [a] prolific reader and he’s very smart,” Lee said. “I was completely happy for him but I wasn’t completely surprised. I had faith that he was going to be published writer.”

“I hated school and didn’t really go to classes very much,” Fernandez said. “I never planned on going to college [though]. When somebody like me realizes that they actually have a shot at academia, it’s really a surreal moment.”

Though he’s doing quite well, Fernandez says that he’s bad at giving advice.

“Even though I’ve been a drug addict and an alcoholic, I’ve never been good at telling people what to do or how they can get clean. So I just write my stories and hope that people read them,” he says.

Fernandez enjoys a good run on his spare time. So far, he has run in five marathons, the San Francisco Marathon, the Big Sur Marathon and the California International Marathon.

“Running keeps me fit and it allows me to go for long periods of time where I’m with myself—no phone, no computer, no technology,” said Fernandez. “It’s important, especially for a writer to be without distractions for extended periods of time.”

Fernandez’s many publications include, “In The End It’s a Worthless Machine,” a chapbook of poetry published by Rattlesnake Press in 2009 and “Spare Parts and Dismemberment,” was published by R.L. Crow Publications this year.

Fernandez, 36, is currently finishing up his master’s in creative writing at the California State University of Sacramento. He described his next novel “Stickup Kid” as being the “modern Karate Kid”, where a boy wanders away from a class field trip and meets a man who teaches him how to rob from the unsuspecting suburban citizens of Boston.

For a man who came so far based on his rocky start, Fernandez says his outlook on life is gratifying.

“I loved my time at SCC, so I was really happy to go back to share my work,” Fernandez said. “I never thought I would publish a book…. everything is surprising to me.”

For more information on Fernandez and his works visit his website at

Join Fernandez and Sacramento writers, Shirley Posh, Richard St.Ofle and Jesssalyn Wakefield at Bows and Arrows 1815 19th Street Midtwon, Sacramento at 8pm Dec. 10  for free readings.

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