Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Five W's of Jillian Medoff

Jillian Medoff author of three books: I Couldn't Love You More, Hunger Point and Good Girls Gone Bad is here today at A Novel Review! I just finished her new book I Couldn't Love You More and I'm so excited to get to know the author a little bit more. 

The Five W's Jillian Medoff

I am the author of three novels: Hunger Point, Good Girls Gone Bad, and now I Couldn’t Love You
More. Although my books are all first-person, with a female narrator, they're more literary than genre fiction. By this I mean, I work hard to create three-dimensional characters (often flawed, always vulnerable) and fully realized stories. I've never been afraid of taking on complex themes or risky subjects--I like to write about the things that people think but never say aloud--and over the years, I'm tackling even more ambitious material. If a book has a predictable storyline or familiar situations, there's no satisfaction in writing it. A woman deciding which man she will spend her life with? I’ve read that story a million times, but a stepmother deciding which of her children she'll save in a freak accident? Now that's a challenge. 

 I didn't make a conscious decision to write in a first-person female voice. It was just the voice that felt most natural. I've written books in other voices, but they weren't as successful, partly because I was trying too hard, partly because I was imposing the voice on the story rather than allowing it to evolve organically. The good news is that after decades of failed attempts, I'm more agile and less hesitant a writer. My natural voice has become more honest because I'm not afraid to cut closer, to go deeper, regardless of gender.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
I have a career, a job-job, in corporate communications, and I work four days a week at a very traditional, very buttoned-up consulting firm. I also have a family—a husband and three daughters, parents and two sisters. So there’s constant drama. I’m a huge reader—I read everything and anything—and I watch a lot of crime shows. I’m busy, busy, busy, but at the center of the madness is the desire to write, the need to write. Everything else revolves around that.

WHEN? When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Almost all my life—definitely since I was eight. I’ve always been writing—moody stories when I was a moody adolescent, moodier stories when I was an even moodier teenager then novels when I got to college.

WHERE? Where do you write?
When I’m on my lunch hour at work, I write in my office at my desk. I also rent space in an artist’s loft in New York City—right on Broadway near Astor Place called the Writers Room. I’ve been a member for almost twenty years, and I’ve written all my books there. It’s basically a huge room with a bunch of cubicles, some lamps, no phone and no Internet. It’s an amazing oasis and surprisingly quiet (!) right in the middle of the city.

WHY? Why do you write?
I wrote an essay called “This is a True Story” that is available in both the print and eBook versions of I Couldn’t Love You More that describes, in great detail, the long, hard road that led to the book’s publication. It also discusses why I write. The gist of the essay is this: I Couldn’t Love You More, like each of my novels, was born of rage and frustration. Although the reasons for my rage differ from book to book, the underlying motivation is always the same: to have my say, usually about someone who has wronged me or someone else. (To clarify: nine times out of ten, the people who wrong me have no idea. Although I burn with the heat of ten thousand suns, I do this silently. I am painfully shy and overly nice (too nice, sometimes), but only my closest friends know that I can also be opinionated, competitive, and when it comes to writing, very critical of myself. But because I rarely articulate my truest thoughts (not out of fear but because it’s not nice), I need some way to express them.) I also feel very sympathetic toward people who have been mistreated, marginalized, and under-represented in our culture. My husband says that I carry the sorrows of the world, but someone has to speak up for those who can’t. I realize this sounds as though I write novels about migrant farm workers or early 20th century factory workers when in fact I write tragicomic domestic dramas. Give me time, though. I’m just warming up

The truth is that I'm not inspired to write as much as I'm driven, I need to write. That desire, that need, is as palpable and relentless as any junkie's craving, and it will possess me all day until I can park myself in a chair and do my work. I love it, I hate it; it's ecstasy when I'm writing well, it's despair when I'm not. I wouldn't wish this life on anyone, nor would I, could I, ever give it up.

I always love hearing authors say they knew since they were in grade school they wanted to be a writer. I know I'll never forget when I was in grade school and had the same thought! How very cool! Thank-you so much for joining us here today at A Novel Review, Jillian! We want to wish you the best of luck and success!

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