Friday, February 1, 2008

Jana Richman

Jana Richman is the author of the memoir Riding in the Shadows of Saints: A Woman's Story of Motorcycling the Mormon Trail and the novel, The Last Cowgirl.

Jenny Shenk interviewed her for NewWest Books & Writers.

The opening exchange from the interview:

NewWest: One aspect of The Last Cowgirl that struck me was Dickie’s age when she has what might be described as a midlife crisis, prompted by her brother’s death. In the present portions of the book, she’s 52 years old, and through the flashbacks, she’s confronting issues and experiences from her childhood and teenage years that she hasn’t fully dealt with yet. Why did you choose to have Dickie this age when she has her moment of crisis and introspection?

Jana Richman: Part of this is simply circumstance. I was more concerned about Dickie’s age in 1968 — she needed to be young enough that the entire family would still be together at the ranch but old enough to really grasp the impact of the event — and I didn’t have any reason not to set the present portions of the book in, well, present time as opposed to 1998 or some year that would have made her younger, so she ended up being 52. She could have been 42; she could have been 62. There’s no magic age where we finally begin to unravel the complexity of the life we’ve made for ourselves, figure out exactly how much we’ve messed up our lives with the decisions we’ve made and what can or cannot be done about it. For me, it was my late 40s. Some more enlightened than I might figure it out in their early 40s or even their 30s; some never figure it out at all. I think Dickie might have been one who never confronted the truths of her life — or may have done it much later in life — if the death of her brother hadn’t forced the issue at that particular time.
Read the entire interview.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Cowgirl.

--Marshal Zeringue