Jan Elizabeth Watson biography

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Jan Elizabeth Watson

Jan Elizabeth Watson

Jan Elizabeth Watson Biography

Jan Elizabeth Watson is a writer who lives and teaches in Maine. A graduate of Columbia University's MFA program. her first novel, Asta in the Wings, was published by Tin House Books to critical acclaim in 2009. An Italian edition of the novel, Le Prigione di Neve, was published by Fazi Editore shortly thereafter. Her anticipated second novel, What Has Become of You, was published wordwide by Dutton in the spring of 2014.

She once rather famously described herself as being "one part Shaft, and two parts Emily Bronte." A fundamentally kindhearted and tender soul, she has been known to identify actors by their cause of death and checks out suspicious quantities of true crime books from her local library. She feeds stray cats and chases purse-snatchers, all while maintaining a ladylike demeanor from days gone by. She enjoys discovering neglected should-have-been classic novels and shuns modern should-not-have-been-invented technologies (while still gamely using some of them– i.e., websites, computers, and the electric toaster).

Jan Elizabeth Watson's website

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Interview

Jan Elizabeth Watson discusses Asta in the Wings and how she went about writing this luminous first novel.

Asta in the Wings is your first published novel. Is it the first novel you wrote?
When I was about twenty years old, I wrote a twelve hundred page novel called Tresunder Manor, which was sort of a cross between a Victorian “cozy” mystery and a novel of psychological suspense. (I think I was reading a lot of Ruth Rendell at the time.) My writing in this early novel was earnest but mostly turgid—unreadable, really-- and the files on which the manuscript was kept were lost long ago—which is no great loss, all things considered. But it was useful to attempt a sustained narrative and to learn from all its mistakes.

Asta was your thesis when you were an MFA student at Columbia. What did you gain from pursuing an MFA? Did you receive feedback that helped you bring the novel to its completed state?
I submitted a prototype of the first couple of chapters of Asta to my MFA workshops and noticed right away that the story elicited a mixed response; people either loved the writing or were baffled by it. I figured that any novel that draws such polarized responses couldn’t be all bad, so that gave me the impetus to forge ahead and turn it into a thesis-length work, which eventually became a springboard for the ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jan Elizabeth Watson at BookBrowse
What Has Become of You jacket Asta in the Wings jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jan Elizabeth Watson but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Chris Adrian

    Chris Adrian

    Chris Adrian was born in Washington, D.C. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he received his MD from East Virginia Medical School. "Every Night for a Thousand Years", the New Yorker story from which this ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Asta in the Wings

    Try:
    A Better Angel
    by Chris Adrian

  • Peter Bognanni

    Peter Bognanni

    Peter Bognanni is a writer currently based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His first novel, The House of Tomorrow, is out now from Amy Einhorn Books (Putnam). He attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop not long ago, and his short ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Asta in the Wings

    Try:
    The House of Tomorrow
    by Peter Bognanni

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