Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jan Elizabeth Watson

From a Q & A with Jan Elizabeth Watson about her debut novel, Asta in the Wings:

What was the inspiration for Asta in the Wings?

A: At the time when I began writing Asta in the Wings I had been reading a lot of Victorian fairy tales. I found their moralizing overtones fascinating. And I was collecting old primers—school reading books—from various lawn sales and garage sales, and I wanted to incorporate the feeling of those as well, in a contemporary way. The first scene of Asta that popped into my head was the scene where Asta and her brother have that first conversation on Orion’s cot, pushing the can lid back and forth; I saw that very clearly in my mind, overheard their dialogue and wrote it down.

In Asta’s home life with her mother and brother, there is a strong theatrical life. Asta’s mother wanted to be a movie actress, as her mother was. Asta and her mother and brother reenact movies and plays. Were you ever involved in theater or acting?

A: I was always the writer, never the actress. However, I’ve always been fascinated with old movies and cinema history, and I wanted to channel this enthusiasm into the novel somehow. A few of my acquaintances have pointed out that I live my life as though I were a character in a movie or a novel, so maybe it wasn’t such a stretch for me to write a book in which the theatrical life and the day-to-day life are as one.
Read the complete Q & A.

Learn more about Asta in the Wings.

--Marshal Zeringue