Monday, January 25, 2010

An Interview with Anna Jarzab, Part 1

Here's part one of my interview with Anna Jarzab, the fabulous author of All Unquiet Things.

Why did you decide to tell the story from the points of view of both Audrey and Neily? Why did you also decide to have the two narrators have a hundred or so pages before switching, unlike many other multiple POV books that switch every other chapter?

The first version of All Unquiet Things was only told from Neily's point of view, because Audrey didn't exist then. When I was rewriting it, I added her in, and I was still planning on only telling the story from his POV. Then I got to the end of Part 1 and I didn't know how to continue. I told my thesis adviser (I was writing AUT for my master's thesis at the time), "I think I need to do alternating POVs," and he said, "Are you sure you're not just being lazy?" I laugh every time I think of that now, because I know he was half right--I'm sure I could've found a way to do it, but I didn't feel like it, so I was being lazy, but then again I think alternating POV is the best way to tell the story.

Having Audrey's POV is really important for a few reasons. First, Audrey is such a huge part of the story--a much bigger part than I originally intended--that she needs her own voice. I think the book and the character would suffer without it. Audrey and Neily are such fundamentally different people--he's very open and forthcoming, and she's very withholding. If she didn't have her own POV, all you'd know about her is what she says to Neily, and that's just not enough to understand her. Second, I knew that there was going to be a point where Neily and Audrey's paths diverge and they would stop sharing information with each other, so Audrey would be in possession of knowledge and perspective Neily wouldn't have, which would mean that the reader wouldn't have it. There's ways around that, of course, but I prefer it this way. Plus, it allows you to see each of the two principle characters from someone else's perspective, which I find interesting. Even Carly, who is dead, gets a voice in the novel. I wanted to give them all a shot at telling their own story.

I read that it took you over six years to write All Unquiet Things. Yay for it finally being out! Did the storyline stay relatively the same (same narrators, same ending, etc.) throughout most of the rewrites and edits, or did it go through a lot of major changes?

The book went through what I consider two phases: Version 1 and Version 2. Version 2 is the version you'll see in the finished book--it has generally stayed the same throughout the revision process, although I've added, deleted and altered things, of course. Version 1 was entirely different than Version 2. It was all from Neily's POV, Carly died at the end, and it was super melodramatic. It was also awful. Basically, all I kept from Version 1 was Neily, Carly, Neily's parents, Carly's father (Carly's mother was added in Version 2), the school principal (whose role was much larger in Version 1), and the title. Every other character--including Audrey--was added and the plot is entirely different. I don't even think I have a copy of Version 1 anymore. Maybe somewhere on an old harddrive, but if it's lost for good I'm not too torn up about it.

Cross-posted at: The Frenetic Reader on 12 January 2010.


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