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Jae Watson Interview

Posted on 14 March 2007. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Jae Watson

Tell us something about your background.

I remember at the age of nine spending rainy days with my friend during one school holiday writing novels. Mine, Anneís Secret Wardrobe, was heavily influenced by The Chronicles of Narnia and The Time Machine. Fortunately this first attempt at novel-length fiction is safely buried at the back of my own rather ordinary wardrobe, but I continue to be fascinated by the idea of journeying into other worlds. My first grown-up novel, to be published on 31st March, is not surprisingly called Journey. It is set in India and explores the themes of physical and spiritual journeying, discovery and self-discovery. Hopefully, it is also a fast-paced and gripping story.

I am currently in the field of adoption social work and have previously worked in child protection and therapeutic services. I am continuously surprised and fascinated by human behaviour and psychology and by the way our early experience has such a profound impact on our adult selves. While my day-job is often draining, making it difficult to come home and write creatively, it also offers a wealth of material and insight into human nature. (Wow that sounds serious!)

How did you start writing?

I have scribbled in diaries and written anxty poems from a young age. Writing has been a kind of compulsion since adolescence when I realised it was a private and relatively healthy way to deal with my teenage hopes and fears. We were a family of readers and so there were always books around to inspire me.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

This question makes me panic because there are so many books that I love and so many writers who have influenced me that not to mention them all is like forgetting to thank your parents at the Man Booker Prize awards (Chance would be a fine thing). So, to name but a few: Wuthering Heights was one of the first books I read that haunted me for years afterwards, the fact it was Emily Bronteís only published novel somehow makes it more poignant. She created such vivid characters and mood. I love Thomas Hardy and George Elliot for similar reasons. Possession by A.S Byatt contains all the elements of a good novel for me. John Fowles creates great mystery and illusion, especially in The Magus where things are never quite as they seem. Graham Greene has such beautifully observed characters and The End of the Affair is one of my favourite books. I love Milan Kunderaís ability to write about complex ideas simply. Margaret Atwood is superb all round. Siri Hustvedt in What I loved writes in that sharp and economic East-Coast American way that I really envy. Most recently I found The Time Travellerís Wife by Audrey Niffeneger and The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai both moving and thought-provoking booksÖ

How did you get your first agent/ commission?

After several failed attempts to entice agents with the first three chapters of my novel, I was extremely fortunate to read about Legend Press in a local magazine. I approached Tom Chalmers, the Managing Director, with a sample of my work and, yippee, he liked it.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Never being as good as I want to be

And the best?

It is the only time I feel totally absorbed in the moment with the sense that Iím where Iím meant to be, doing what Iím meant to do.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

So far Ė apart from the publishing team and my partner - I have only shared my work with the Writerís Club at City Lit College, London. It is quite an exposing experience but I have learned so much by allowing my writing to be analysed and criticised. Fortunately it didnít lead me into despair and I was able to make changes and finely-hone my writing, a process which Iím sure eventually led to publication. I would highly recommend this process to other writers. I now have to prepare myself for the response from a slightly bigger audience. (Yikes)

What was your breakthrough moment?

Realising that I couldnít not write and that I would probably go mad if I didnít make time for it. Thatís when I reduced my working week to four-days and tried to think of myself as a writer.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

Nik Perring at 14:26 on 14 March 2007  Report this post
Best of luck with the book, Jae.

Thanks for sharing.


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