Jan Elizabeth Watson was born in Washington DC and spent nearly a decade in New York City, where she received her MFA from Columbia University. She has worked extensively as an editor, copywriter, and adjunct professor of creative writing. Asta in the Wings is her first novel. She lives in Maine and has one child, a daughter.
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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 turgidunreadable, really-- and the files on which the manuscript was kept were lost long agowhich 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 couldnt 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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