Several months ago, I did this interview but had to take it down due to Miss Doe’s family. As it was a good interview, I decide to add it again.
A few weeks ago I met the winner of Writers Activation short story competition, Jane Doe. The title of her story is ‘The Quiet Strength of Winter’. Upon meeting her, I had a distinct impression of someone who akin to my history. To quote Miss Doe, ‘You have to own it’, and her story reflects this. As soon as she entered we were swept up talking about everything, all though the interview we were both guilty of moving off on tangents, but we are here for her story.
As The Quiet Strength had some personal reflection in many people’s lives, I had to ask what drove her to write this short story. Jane started to talk about her Bachelor of Communication, and in one of her classes she had to write something real and about a family member. As she went on, the narrative split into two parts, one in the mind of a six-year-old and the other in the mind of the adult dealing with a family event. In both parts, it reflected the abuse she suffered in the past and her now dealing with the abuser as an adult. Writing the first section as the child, made her weep as it brought the memories of these past events. As I can relate to this from the child’s mindset to the adult’s, it is hard to admit that these things happen. She replied that it had inspired her to use it as an example to the other six-year-olds, that they too have a voice, and it is okay to tell people about it. Writing this causes me to tear up. If she does go off to help the young children from this sort of horror, I will support her in any way I can.
Leaving the story aside for a while, I asked her how she became a writer. Five years ago she had a terrible car accident due to a guy looking at the restaurant Hooters, which caused her to become slightly paralysed on her left side and to lose muscle strength. On the same day as the accident of her becoming accepted in the police force, and this accident meant that she would not have the strength to hold a gun. Being a police officer was her dream due to what happened to her as a child. Her counsellor at the time suggested that she should write a journal, and this would help. Jane recounted this in a very shrill voice, but she did write a diary and wrote more and more; three months later it was a crime novel. She then sent it off to Grandfather who is a professor at an Australian University, with a PhD in Creative Writing (so the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). Receiving it back, and there was more red than black ink, but he said ‘you had found her path, and to go off and do something about it now’. Since that time she has self-published a romance novel, and is currently editing another crime/romance novel aptly named Crimance.
She reflected about the female characters in romance novels; most are of need for that ‘knight in shining armour’ to come and save them. She is creating her Crimance novel, as the main character is strong and driven to find out the perpetrator of said crime. Of course, there is a little sex in it, as it still has a reflection of romance but the ‘man’ doesn’t need to save her main character.
We talk more about her novel and what she was going to do, then we move off that tangent and came back to her interview. I asked about her reaction to the other contestants; she was surprised one that she made the short list and was gobsmacked that she won, remarked that her neighbours might have called the cops because of the ear piercing scream. The excitement was an understatement! Her mother said it wasn’t because the other stories weren’t bad, it was just hers was better.
It was excellent meeting Jane Doe, and finding more about her life and insight into her as an author. One of the lecturers at her university would now like to put her charming piece into the annual book, an anthology of students and staff pieces of literary work. She would again be involved in another competition as she has had so much growth in this one. I am looking forward to her work in the future.