Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Jane Watson – Part Two

Jane Watson visited this blog back in November of 2011, gave us a great interview, and made us want to read her first novel, Hindustan Contessa.

Today, I’m proud to welcome Jane back for an interview that gets deeper into her writer’s mind and sheds light on the Process of Writing


Jane, what are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel about literary theft—at least that’s what I tell myself it’s about,  but often, as I write, it does seem to me that the story I am making can often develop into something else.  I believe in a process of gradual linking of relevant parts of a story until the real story takes shape. OK, this is arduous, but what I’m trying to do in this process is to find the real story I want to tell, the authentic one if you like, which I may be doing my best to cover up.

It’s my experience that many writers have a wonderful story that they could tell but they go out of their way NOT to tell that story. I believe this is because we are often fearful of recognising our own true authentic self that the story contains; i.e., we are fearful of accessing our own Inner Worlds.

I’m telling this story of literary theft because I actually went through the experience of having an idea of mine—an image, specifically, in a photograph—used by someone else. There is no copyright of ideas but it was a betrayal of trust. In releasing this story, I am hoping that I’m accessing my inner fears and thoughts about this experience.

In my two readings of  Hindustan Contessa, I realized you go deeply into the different states of mind of your characters. What about the different states of mind you visit when you’re preparing to write and during the actual writing?

Interesting question. I do not think my grasp of words has changed much since I was about thirteen, (and, I suspect this is the same for most people) but I truly believe the *way* I think about those words has changed dramatically. Many people believe that writing is about getting down the right words I disagree. For me it’s about getting the right thinking going, specifically about accessing the Inner Worlds I mentioned before. To go into those worlds the writer has to be fearless and determined; but, above all, at peace with oneself in that moment. I believe anything a writer can do to help them leave the real world behind and make that peaceful meditative journey is beneficial—listen to music, meditate, drink tea, you name it… :-)

Please, Jane, tell us more about your conception of the Inner Worlds of the writer?

Well, I believe the most important task facing a writer is to access those worlds.  In his book, The Craft Of The Novel, the writer Colin Wilson says: “A story or a novel is a writer’s attempt to create a clear self-image” He also says “Socrates argues that each human soul already contains the knowledge of all things.” In other words, a writer, when they attempt to access those Inner Worlds, is also attempting to access their own true self and to explore that. This is probably why some writing teachers say: write about the thing that you would most like *not to reveal *—because in that process you will probably have to look inside in a deep and meaningful way :-)

Jane, your novel certainly used symbols in highly creative ways. Would you share your view of symbolism in your writing and, especially, in your preparations for writing?

To me writing, the telling of a story or narrative, is held together not by “plot” but by a network of images and metaphors. These provide the underlying emotional and organic structure of my ideal work. I suppose this is a rather architectural approach to story. My preparation for writing often involves pages and pages of mind maps of connected  images and lists of events with their corresponding symbols and images.

What’s your process of revision like?

Read it, throw some out, read it, throw some out Read it again, put some back, read it again, put some back You get the idea, lol. But seriously, for me, revision is about finding where the story connects with the underlying symbolism. I look for areas where I’ve been too general in my description, to improve it, and areas where I have no underlying image or symbolic connections. I do a lot of restructuring—juxtaposition of various parts of the text are critical. The work is like a collage in motion and it’s the connections in the collage I’m trying to create. E.M.Forster himself once said: ‘Only connect

Care to share some of your current feelings about publishing?

Probably unprintable But, I truly believe that if many of the famous names in the history of writing were trying to get published today [by traditional publishers] they would be ignored. Nowadays, the process of putting out a work of art, which may be a novel,  seems to have become less and less nurturing and more and more commercial and yet creative projects often have to go through a lengthy process before they are ready to be born—I think there’s a contradiction there. Initially, novels are not commercial products, they are creations, which are then merchandised. However, nowadays, I feel the first stage is often not encouraged because the conveyor belt is waiting for the product ;-)

You give us much to ponder………

Jane, thanks, so much, for coming back and sharing your hard-won writer’s wisdom—looking forward to your next book :-)

Synopsis of Hindustan Contessa

An Australian couple, Milan and Tillie, travel to India. Kidnapped by robbers and incarcerated in a cave, Tillie tells their story. Captured by her sexual jealousy and suspicions of Milan, Tillie nevertheless endeavours to help him come to terms with his own childhood spent with grandparents who held him hostage while his parents travelled overseas. Family intrigue and crises of identity follow the couple as they travel across India. Against the colourful backdrop of India and Venice, this novel tells a story of loss and rediscovered identity amidst magic, obsessions, goddesses and misconceptions in a land where reality and illusion seem to merge. Not just a tale of India but a story of people who try to exist in the global melting pot and for everyone who lives on the edge.

Jane’s Novel at Amazon US
At Amazon UK
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

11 responses to “Author Interview ~ Jane Watson – Part Two

  1. Jan December 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I have heard about writing what you are uncomfortable with, that’s hard. It takes me longer to dig deep and writing in a journal for myself first seems to be more personal and brings things out I wasn’t expecting. The same with symbolism, that comes out of the writing and surprises me. I don’t consciously try to place them into the story. Thanks for the interview.


  2. Jane Watson December 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Jan -:) I think journal writing is one of the greatest ways to access inner worlds and I agree, usually my symbolism also does emerge when I am first writing at the ‘coal face’ – the inward looking stage. Then I look at what has come out (and surprised me too!) and at that point I begin to mine for more of that symbolic meaning in the writing to come. It is not conscious initially, as you say. So some placement, but more surprise!


    • Jan December 15, 2012 at 4:23 am

      Man created a system of symbols, alphabets, and placed symbols to represent, to stand for, mythology. There is a felt magic in symbols. Man feels an inherent awareness of them. I wish I could explore them more to use them better to communicate that magic in story, without explaining. Have you any resources that you would recommend? I have books with symbols from around the world and their meanings, I would like to know the value placement in story structure to bring that magic in.


  3. Jane Watson December 16, 2012 at 1:15 am

    I also recommend Jung. I watch movies and visit art galleries for symbolic inspiration. I also read about structure and symbolism. I like these books, which you may have already read:
    Christopher Vogler, “The Writer’s Journey”. California: Michael Wiese Productions, 1998.
    James Bonnet, “Stealing Fire From The Gods – A Dynamic New Story Model For Writers And Filmakers”. California: Michael Wiese Productions, 1999.
    James Frey, “The Key: How To Write Damn Good Fiction Using The Power Of Myth”. New York: St Martins, 2000.
    I love the work of Haruki Murakami, especially his novel, ‘Kafka On The Shore”. He seems to have a quirky surreal symbolism. There is a fascinating documentary on him available from the BBC:
    “A Wild Sheep Chase: In Search Of Haruki Murakami” :):)

    As I mentioned in the interview I often explore the use of symbols in mind maps using pictures… I like to draw very *visual* mindmaps of networks of symbols :):)


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